On Sunday, the Shia- and Kurdish-dominated Iraqi parliament decreed that the threshold for rejecting the constitution would be raised from two-thirds of the voters in three provinces to two-thirds of registered voters in three provinces, while the approval of a simple majority of those who turn out to vote for the constitution would be sufficient for ratification. Yesterday, under extreme international pressure, the parliament abandoned the change. But most significant is the fact that the ruling factions in the parliament felt unconstrained by any law in the pursuit of their sectarian advantage. The U.S.-brokered interim constitution establishes a daunting parliamentary super-majority to amend its provisions. But instead of embarking upon such a daunting course, the parliament ignored what counts for law: The referendum decree was merely a "clarification," according to its parliamentary advocates. Moreover, after the decree was scrapped, Shia leaders threatened to challenge any rejection of the constitution; and Sunni leaders remained embittered and defiant by the scheme. As a result, all that the constitution represents is the triumph of a zero-sum sectarianism that the Bush administration is desperately portraying as the march of freedom.
Cheap parliamentary tactics in the pursuit of partisan advantage, only bowing to severe outside pressure, all ending in the complete embitterment of the minority party? Sounds like they may be learning too well.
I wonder if we can extradite Tom DeLay to run the Iraqi parliament? He is well-suited...though he'd probably make the civil war go nuclear.