Call for a Do-Over?

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Noah Feldman’s New York Times op-ed on the Iraqi constitution lays out all the well-tilled reasons why the document may just lead to further bloodshed down the road, but this part near the end brought on a bit of head-scratching:

Although things look bad today, the game is not yet quite over. Should the constitution be rejected on Oct. 15, everyone can head back to the negotiation table and try again.

In an ideal world, everyone would get behind this option. Do the whole thing over, this time with the Sunnis fully included. On the other hand, I have serious, serious doubts that re-electing the Iraqi National Assembly all over again would fundamentally change the outcome. The Sunni provinces are still as violent as ever, and turnout, while perhaps better than last January, would still be quite low. Meanwhile, Shiite militias like Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army and SCIRI’s “Badr Organization” pretty much run southern Iraq at the barrel of a gun, and the potential for ballot tampering, or intimidation, is high. The odds seem pretty good that re-doing everything would only bring back to power the same cast of characters, with the same set of demands, only this time, the U.S. military would be even closer to the breaking point, and the Iraqi people would be even more impatient with a constitutional process that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. “Head[ing] back to the negotiation table and try[ing] again” may end up being one of the few options that can avert a civil war and seek out that much-discussed “political solution” for the Sunnis, but is it even practical?


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