Monday, August 29, 2005

A First Step

"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried"

--Winston Churchill

Just finished reading the draft of the Iraqi Constitution. (Okay, so I have some free time on my hands.) The preamble begins:

We the sons of Mesopotamia, land of the (messengers), prophets, resting place of the holy imams, the leaders of civilization and the creators of the alphabet, the cradle of arithmetic: on our land, the first law put in place by mankind was written; in our nation, the most noble era of justice in the politics of nations was laid down; on our soil, the followers of the prophet and the saints prayed, the philosophers and the scientists theorized and the writers and poets created.

What really strikes me is that this is the "Cradle of Civilization", the birthplace of written law, and this is the first Constitution they have had. Is it remotely possible for everyone in this country, for or against the war, to take a moment and consider what is happening in Iraq right now? Our Founding Fathers are in some ways remote; men from 230 years ago in leg stockings and powdered wigs, part of elementary school memorization, carved from marble. (Or granite.) The success of our country subsequent to its founding seems almost inevitable even if, as recent scholars have taught us, it wasn't. The creation of a country is fraught with peril if it is in the 18th Century or the 21st.

As challenging as it will undoubtedly be, I look forward to seeing the birth of a new hope of freedom. Today, the arguments for and against the war are held in abeyance. In a cynical time let's just watch civilized men and women work to form a democratic government. They may stumble and fall, only to rise again. There will be disagreement and rhetoric. Those hostile to a representative government will assuredly shed blood in a desperate attempt to hold back the tide of history. And yet for all its challenges, for all its faults, it is still a thing of beauty to behold.



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