Tipping Point: Something Becomes News?
Over the last two weeks in these pages there has been a bit of discussion of how the government we established in Iraq, to replace the one dangerous one we removed, has been aligning itself with the government next door, Iran - cross-training troops, the new Iraqi PM laying the wreath at the grave of Ayatollah Khomeini on a visit to Tehran and all that. (See One Man's News Is Another Man's Tedium from July 17, 2005 and Non-Stories from last week.)
As you recall, the original Axis of Evil was Iraq, North Korea and Iran. The obvious question that came to mind was did we fight this war to install a government in Iraq that will join up with Iran in all sorts of military agreements? We created, possibly, a new client state of the worst-of-the worst, Iran? It seemed curious that that the government we brought into existence - to replace that of the former guy now in jail and awaiting trial - is aligning itself with Iran, who we have been told since the days just after 9/11 is just as bad (same axis) - and this was not all over the news.
Even more curious is the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein was quite secular, until some opportunistic Koran-thumping in the last weeks before the war. Iraq had one of the most progressive sets of laws protecting women's rights, they fought a long and costly war with the Shiite theocracy of Iran, and al Qaeda denounced Saddam as an enemy for his refusal to join the religious fanatics. They saw him as corrupt and worldly.
But now the Shiite fundamentalists have the power, the Sunni Baathist folks are out of luck, and the guys running this new fun house, like their Shiite counterparts next door in Iran, take their religion very seriously. Iran and the new Iraq have a lot in common.
But all this wasn't yet news, per se. It was quite startling, and made the whole war seem a tad pointless in a deeply ironic way - but to make it "news" there needed to be a tipping point.
That happened this week.
Wednesday, July 27, the Los Angeles Times, among others, reported on the draft of the new Iraqi constitution now in circulation (they're supposed to have it complete by August 15).
As the Times reports, it seems there are a few issues -
Did Iran win this war? We won't get a unified county, women's rights will take a bit hit, and we get strict theocracy?
As for what it all means, Alex over at Martini Republic ("Lead, follow, or have a drink") sums it up this way:
What's the line? "Rats! Foiled again!"
The Times also runs an item on all this upsetting folks. The guy Cheney and Rimfeld and that crew hand-picked to run the news Iraq, Ahmed Chalabi, did promise the new Iraq would be friendly to Israel. That didn't work out, and he didn't work out (or hasn't yet) - "Chalabi also promised his neoconservative patrons that as leader of Iraq he would make peace with Israel, an issue of vital importance to them. A year ago, Chalabi was riding high, after Saddam Hussein fell with even less trouble than expected."
As this Alec fellow had pointed out before, the Iraq draft permits Iraqi-born exiles to regain their citizenship - unless they are Jews. He notes draft Iraqi Charter also contains the following provision: "Any individual with another nationality (except for Israel) may obtain Iraqi nationality after a period of residency inside the borders of Iraq of not less than ten years for an Arab or twenty years for any other nationality..."
Oh well. And you might want to go read what he has to say about how the new plan takes away the rights of women.
That's about right.
And for a full, careful analysis of the document, you might want to read what the University of Michigan professor, the Middle East expert Juan Cole, has to say in Draft Constitution Enshrines Islamic Law - but be prepared for a bit about the ambiguities particular Arabic phrases. It's rather academic. (No pun?)
Moving away from the academic, our columnist Bob Patterson listens to right-wing talk radio regularly, so we don't have to, and comments on Michael Savage.
Savage is hard to get. When he goes off like this he says later that he's just mocking the left - it's parody - and to others he says he really means it. He's needs his medication.
The larger issue is cognitive dissonance. How will the Bush side assimilate all this?
We shall see.
Unfamiliar with Michael Savage? You might want to checkout this from Paul Mulshine from the Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ).
Yeah, but PhD or not, he's a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work. MSNBC gave him a show a year or two ago, and that lasted only a few weeks. The final straw was when one caller raised the issue of rights for gays and Savage told him to just get AIDS and die, and hung up. So I'll let Bob listen all he wants and report back to me. I'd rather not listen to the guy.