Iraq’s Bullets and Ballots

When the Iraq war started in 2003, the Bush administration had very ambitious plans: as in post-1945 Germany and Japan, a long and peaceful occupation was envisaged, during which expanding oil production would assure rising prosperity as democratic structures were built piece by piece. The foundation was to be a liberal, even post-modern constitution, complete with a guarantee of 25% of parliamentary seats for women. 

In today’s Iraq, there is no peace and no prosperity. The constitution that will be voted on October 15th includes that 25% rule, but otherwise is far from liberal. The key provision (article 2) that no law may contradict “the undisputed rules of Islam” violates the basic principle of parliamentary sovereignty, and will prevent legislation from meeting international standards.

For example, the age of sexual consent for girls cannot be set above nine, because Muhhamad himself had a nine-year-old wife. It follows that nine-year-old girls are also adults in criminal law, and subject to capital punishment for, say, converting to another religion. More broadly, the Shias can use this provision to place their ayatollahs over the elected parliament, as in Iran, because they alone are authorized to determine the “rules” of Islam.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/Gi5mzRB;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.