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Another Alternative - Far-Fetched?

Reader comment on item: A Strongman for Iraq?

Submitted by Ilona Melstrads (United States), Apr 28, 2003 at 13:37

Dr. Pipes may be absolutely right. But as far as the good strong-man precedent for Muslim countries is concerned, Kemal Ataturk probably succeeded in his policies because he was the brilliant military saviour of Turkey. Not only did he win at Gallipoli, but also over the 1922 Greek-English invasion of Turkey's mainland itself. A comparable Arab leader in Iraq is missing.

Another alternative may be this: to take the current Iranian constitution and modify it. During Garner's tenure, the parameters can be announced for discussion.

The Iranian Council of sharia scholars would be merely advisory, without veto power. Furthermore, it would not be a self-appointed council (the "Supreme Leader" no longer apppointing the other members, who in turn now re-affirm the position of the Supreme Leader, etc. The members would be either elected locallly or in some old-fashioned electoral college way.) The sharia council would also not be allowed to veto the government candidates for office, as is now the case in Iran. The main function of the council would be educational, and to advance Islamic law for modern times. (Two councils might be desirable, one for the Sunni law and the other for the Shia.)

Currently the "Islamic" govenrment of Iran functions like some self-selected and self-appointed U.S. corporate board. While this can often work for corporate profit-making boards, it is bad and inefficient if the self-selected board also rules a country with the help of a large secret police!

Also, a different approach to religious tolerance would be needed. Currently the Iranian constitution apparently only allows the Zoroastrian, Judaic and Christian religions. This could be expanded to include such world-religions as Buddhism. Or the constitution could be written to simply exclude totally aberrant sects. (Who really wants Branch Davidians?) The main problem of course would be to make clear that a Muslim can change his religion without reprisal. Ideally, the minority religions should also have their advisory councils of religious scholars, for commenting on government-proposed laws or administrative structures, but that is perhaps too much to ask.

Other needed modifications of the Iranian constitution would address the federalism issue, a different approach to internal security, and a clear forswearing of international terrorism.

As for direct democracy, the constitution can include a schedule from going to an electoral college type of administration to direct elections. As you noted, it took time in the U.S. to get to democracy.

There seem to be two advantages to starting with the Iranian constitution. It has many good features (even if they are just unreachable goals, such as universally high personal and social ethics). But it will show the Iranians how to adapt their existing constitution to one that is not dictatorial. They will not accept something totally different from what they have. So by rewriting the Iranian constitution for Iraq, you will have also written one for the younger Iranians. And the Iraqi Shiites will have something similar to what the Iranian republic now has.

As for such good Iranian constitutional goals as improved ethics of the population, while we may not like the idea of a constitution or a government stating it as a goal, it makes sense when you use some principles of Islamic law in the constitution. For the Iranian constitution also hopes that modern science will flourish and be applied. But if a central bank has to be monitoring interest rates in the country, the government and the law has to call the interest by its right name in economics, and not fudge it to superficially conform to some interpretations of Islamic law by calling it an administrative fee. The government would then be encouraging lying, which is in contradiction to its constitution if it requires high standards of behavior!
Submitting....

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