Monday, May 31, 2004

Power Games At The Top, Real Governance At The Bottom? 

Wow this Iraqi interim government thing has totally gone off track.
Council member Mahmoud Othman told reporters in Baghdad Monday that U.S. officials requested the one-day delay. Mr. Othman complained about what he described as "interference" by the United States and the United Nations in the selection process.

(Emphasis is my own)
So that we don't forget, the whole idea was to have the UN select the "technocratic" government. And there are more interesting political undercurrents beneath all this.
Mr Allawi's lack of widespread public support may indeed have helped him to win the job as prime minister. Rivals reportedly believe it will require him to be a consensus builder as Iraq progresses towards elections scheduled for early next year. But he is already seeking to expand his clout.
In all honesty, my opinion that this shouldn't (not wouldn't) be an issue at all. Since a prolonged occupation obviously isn't feasible, I've been a convert to Mark Steyn's asymmetrical federalism concept. Most of us proponents of invading Iraq have supported a federal structure with a weaker central government in the first place.

Without much report on what is happening at the prefecture level and lower, it's impossible to say exactly how self-governing the local authorities are doing or are capable of at this stage. Unfortunately, the US, UN, and IGC all appear to be apathetic or antipathetic to the idea, lest the people of Iraq actually get a say in their own affairs. Fears of civil war are understandable, but a heavily centralized government is probably even more likely to create resentment and anger.

Can't say I'm optimistic or pessimistic at this point. Your average Arab is, relative to the average Canadian, armed to the teeth. That could mean all hell will break loose if the new central government pushes too hard, or the government could hold back, fearing the breaking loose of all hell. Federalism at gunpoint? Who knows: maybe the Second Amendment of the US Constitution will be the First Amendment of the Iraqi one. Or maybe there won't be a constitution at all.
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