Sharia's adherents, of course, would disagree. In a January article about the Governing Council's family law decision, every judge and lawyer the Los Angeles Times interviewed in Baghdad insisted on the superiority of sharia law to civil law.
"Sharia is from God, the law is man-made, and sharia is better because what comes from Allah is fixed," said Kadhim Jubori, 55, who has practiced family law for 33 years in Baghdad. ("I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you" is fixed?) Fixed or not, U.S. efforts to tend democracy's roots in Iraq would wither under any sharia-based constitution.
This would bode ill, but not just for Iraq. The fact is, as columnist Charles Krauthammer said recently in a magisterial address to the American Enterprise Institute, "You win by taking territory -- and leaving something behind." We won Iraq by taking territory -- and now must leave the basis for democracy behind. Not sharia.
Such a policy -- Krauthammer calls it "democratic globalism" -- combines realism with an idealistic commitment to human freedom, tempered, he cautioned, by "strategic necessity." That means that the United States commits blood and treasure only in "places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom."
Fifty years ago, that described Germany and Japan, vortexes of fascism. Both nations, Krauthammer noted, "were turned, by nation-building, into bulwarks against the next great threat to freedom, Soviet communism." Today, he continued, the new global threat to freedom is "the new existential enemy, the Arab-Islamic totalitarianism that has threatened us in both its secular and religious forms for the quarter-century since the Khomeini revolution of 1979." He continued: "Establishing civilized, decent, non-belligerent, pro-Western polities in Afghanistan and Iraq ... would, like the flipping of Germany and Japan, change the strategic balance in the fight against Arab-Islamic radicalism."
Krauthammer admits we may fail even as he insists we must try. Certainly, the first thing to do is for Bremer -- and the American people -- to be prepared to veto a sharia-based constitution in Iraq.