Monday, October 03, 2005


I can't have strong opinions about this either way, but let's recognize it for what it is:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 3 - Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish leaders quietly adopted new rules over the weekend that will make it virtually impossible for the constitution to fail in the upcoming national referendum, prompting Sunni Arabs and a range of independent political figures to complain that the vote was being fixed.

Some Sunni leaders who have been organizing a campaign to vote down the document said today that they might now boycott the Oct. 15 referendum, because the rule change made their efforts futile. Other political leaders also reacted angrily, saying the change would seriously damage the vote's credibility in Iraq and abroad.

Under the new rules, the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters - rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots - reject it in at least 3 of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The point is to get something in place which is perceived as being sufficiently legitimate to satisfy enough people. There's nothing intrinsically magical about the process which was originally put in place, but certainly changing the rules along the way makes the universal acceptance of the legtimacy of the process a bit difficult. On the other hand, if the whole thing falls apart and has to be rebooted it's hard to see that there will be a better outcome. And, if those ungrateful Sunnis pipe up we can always send the Mustache of Understanding in to take care of things:

That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind.