Charles Krauthammer

     That might establish de facto self-governing entities within the shell of a weak Iraqi central government. So what? The only major objection is that the neighboring countries would vigorously reject a fully sovereign Kurdistan or Shiite  ``south Iraq.'' However, maintaining the shell of Iraqi sovereignty might mollify the Turks and Saudis and others who would resist outright independence. It might even turn out to be the best possible solution for Iraq's deep religious and ethnic divisions. After all, as one wag said, Iraq was not created by God, but by Winston Churchill. And it was not one of his most blessed creations.

     Moreover, a Basra-based Shiite super-region was not enshrined in the constitution. It is permitted, but not mandated. That question will be left to future parliaments. As it should. Again, the cosmic problems of identity and the distribution of power should be deferred to legitimately elected parliaments as they develop the habits of democracy over time.

     In the end, the Sunni representatives walked out. It would have been nice if the Shiites and Kurds had been more accommodating, though to expect such niceness from a majority population that had suffered 30 years at the hands of a Tikriti gangster regime rooted in the Sunni minority, is perhaps to expect too much.

     Nor have the Sunnis acted in a way that might encourage such niceness.  First they boycott the elections that would have given them a real say in the constitution-writing process. Then they support a murderous insurgency that is killing dozens of Shiites and Kurds every day, to say nothing of coalition troops. Then they demand a veto on the proposed constitution. Chutzpah.

     We went into Iraq knowing that we were going to overturn the political order. The introduction of democracy would inevitably take power away from the former ruling community -- the 20 percent of the population that ruled with uncommon brutality -- and transfer it to the other 80 percent. That the previously victimized 80 percent should not wish to be held hostage to the political demands of their former oppressors should hardly be a surprise. Nonetheless, they still managed to produce a perfectly reasonable constitutional document that deserves far more respect than it has received from the knee-jerk critics here at home.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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