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[casi] In "Black Coffee" mood: The Future of Iraq

In "Black Coffee" mood: The Future of Iraq

Excerpts re Iraqi constitution from :,eventID.642/transcript.asp


The Future of Iraq
Black Coffee Briefing

October 21, 2003

Transcript prepared from a tape recording

      8:45 a.m.  Registration
      9:00  Panelists:  Karlyn H. Bowman, AEI
      Danielle Pletka, AEI
      Gary Schmitt, Project for the New American Century
     Moderator:  Reuel Marc Gerecht, AEI
     Keynote Address:  Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
      11:00  Adjournment


"... And, Danni [meant: Danielle Pletka], on the constitutional question, is
there any merit in the idea of an interim Constitution? You talked about the
stasis in trying to move the Constitution forward and about how the U.S. is
not putting a model forward very assertively. Should the U.S. and the
Coalition put into the hands of the Iraqis as good a Constitution as we can
propose, but put a three-year sunset provision on it and say, in the
interim, the elected Iraqi Government can revisit this and amend it?

Our own revered Constitution of 1789, after all, is the second draft, and so
it makes sense that one would want to revisit it after a few years. "

ANSWER by Ms "oomph" Danni Pletka:

" The Constitution, gee, I'm not a big fan of that idea, and I'll tell you
why. If we give them something, it'll be immediately suspect and a lot of
the good ideas will end up being thrown out because they were ours.

There's been a lot of work done on the old Iraqi Constitution, the 1924
Constitution, and I think that a lot of that interim work can, in fact, be
moved into place. But the truth is that the problem is not the crafting of
the Constitution per se. There will be a lot of wrangling about the usual
things that you would expect, that were wrangled over in Afghanistan, that
will be wrangled over, in addition, in Iraq. Whether it's the role of Islam
or it's the role of women or it's ethnic versus geographic federalism, there
are just a whole variety of issues that are going to be fought about, and
there's very little that we can do to pre-cook that.

The real point is process, and it's a rarity when I'll say that, but the
real point here is how do we get from here to there in expeditious fashion,
but not so expeditious that we end up cementing the wrong things in place.
And there's a lot of "to-ing and fro-ing" about that, and our biggest
problem is that the U.S. Government's desired outcome, which I think is this
sort of middle process of not having a grassroots election, but on the other
hand, not having a totally appointed group of conveners who really have no
mandate from the people and having some sort of hybrid of the two.

The problem is that I don't know how much oomph we're willing to put behind
it, and if we're willing to put that oomph behind it, how much we're working
with our Iraqi partners to try and sell that across the board. In fact, I
think that the process of "sell," if you will, is a very weak link. If it's
a good idea, then Iraqis should be selling it throughout Iraq, and right now
I think they're sort of sitting, and kind of talking, and not getting that
done, and that's the biggest problem. "

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