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The Reactionary Utopian

 The Iraqi Constitution 

August 23, 2005 
We Americans are very proud of our Constitution, though we don’t use it that often, and we want Iraq to have one reasonably like it. Today's column is "The Iraqi Constitution" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.It should be democratic, with women’s rights and stuff, but beyond that we’re giving them a lot of latitude. After all, the whole reason we invaded Iraq is to give the Iraqis self-government.

Anyway, that’s the reason now, even if it wasn’t the reason at the actual time of the invasion. We invaded at the time because the White House had determined — determined in the sense of decided, not necessarily discovered — that the tyrant Saddam Hussein possessed weapons like ours and was apt to use them.

These included, or would soon include, nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons are terrible things when they fall into the wrong hands. In the right hands, such as our own, they do a lot of good, such as shortening wars. Nuclear wars don’t drag on and on and become quagmires; they’re over before you can say “Jack Robinson,” or for that matter “Pee Wee Reese,” or “Gil Hodges.”

But let’s get back to the Iraqi constitution. How they write it is pretty much up to them, within limits. One difference between theirs and ours was that ours was written after we got the foreign troops out, whereas theirs is being written under the supervision of the foreign troops, which in this case are us. Another difference between Iraq and us is that we have a Monroe Doctrine advising foreigners to stay in their own hemisphere, and they don’t.

If you stop to think about it, it would put a severe crimp in U.S. foreign policy if everyone had a Monroe Doctrine, wouldn’t it? We like to help people, after all. Just as the French export wine and cheese, we export self-government. It helps keep up the balance of trade. But you can’t export self-government unless you have someone to take it where it’s needed, a rather obvious point that Casey Sheehan’s mother seems unable to get through her head.

[Breaker quote for The Iraqi Constitution: But will it have penumbras?]Not everyone agrees. Some Americans, called isolationists, think Americans should stay home and “mind our own business.” That’s what a lot of foreigners think, too. They want us to consume their exports, but they don’t want to consume ours.

Exporting the blessings of liberty can be difficult when the natives refuse to accept them peacefully and those blessings have to be inserted anally, as it were, like an enema, which is no fun, maybe, but is good for you. Again, if everyone had taken the view that Americans should “stay home and mind their own business,” as the tired cliché has it, we wouldn’t have been able to win World Wars I and II. In fact, we wouldn’t even have been able to fight them. Or shorten them. Or give the aggressors — that is to say, the losers — democracies and constitutions.

When you fight a war with the United States, you are by definition the aggressor. As Lincoln warned the Southern states before invading them, “You yourselves will be the aggressors.” And the pattern could hardly be clearer: history shows we only invade aggressive countries, such as the Philippines.

It’s a good thing the aggressors always lose, or today all Americans might be speaking with Southern drawls, even in Brooklyn and Boston. Imagine Ted Kennedy saying, “Y’all come now, heah?” and you’ll appreciate what a close shave we had. The so-called Civil War might better be remembered as the War of Southern Aggression.

When you lose a war with the United States, democracy and a shiny new constitution, right out of the showroom, will be your consolation prizes. And we will even help you rebuild any cities it has been necessary to carpet-bomb or nuke. Our friendly troops will distribute candy to your surviving children. Yes, war is hell, but we try to make losing a war a little bit of heaven.

Of course there will be the inevitable questions. Will the new Iraqi constitution be a living document, like ours, with lots of penumbras formed by emanations? The news reports are inconclusive on this, but we can hope for the best. We can only do so much; the rest will be up to the Iraqi judiciary.

Joseph Sobran

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