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August 18, 2005

On Constitutions, as in The Land, Law of, Basic, 1 ea.

Pardon me if I have trouble understanding the current angst over the difficulties the Iraqis are having in establishing a satisfactory Constitution to govern the basic operational principles of the nation.

Hmmmm. They've just been through a period of despotic tyranny, which ended by war.

They struggled through getting an interim government established, to handle basic needs, while they set to the task of designing a more permanent, and hopefully durable system of government that takes into account the needs of a disparate population, while emphasizing certain common cultural elements.

Hopefully this will result in a less abusive and corrupt, if in comparison inherently 'less stable' government than that extant prior to the war.

Where have we seen something similar? Not an exactly parallel, granted with major, major differences, not least in cultures and cultural approaches to problem solving, but still, similar.

Hmmmmmm. Why does the date 1781 keep floating up.

How about The Founding?

Even though it seems to not be covered in basic high school education anymore, given what I read from college student ramblings at places like DU and Kos, the United States has had two different bodies of law to lay out governance at the Federal level.

The first, interim set, was called The Articles of Confederation and went into effect March 1, 1781, when ratified by Maryland.

We then replaced the Articles with the Constitution on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire ratified the document.

The two were generally drawn up by the same people, allowing for natural attrition and politics, yet they *are* fundamentally different documents, with the second reflecting the results of a long period of discussion leading to a generalized consensus, informed by the lessons learned from dealing with the weaknesses of the original, interim document.

Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, anyone?

Even with the Marvels of Modern Communications®, is it really reasonable to expect that we are going to arrive at a perfect document so fast? And remember, going into the period of the Articles, we had had the period of the colonies working together from 1775-1781 as a prelude to the difficulties of working together. Anyone remember the travails of getting the Declaration of Independence written? And that, in order to succeed, left intact the near-fatal fruit of slavery, which was to bedevil us for almost a century, and a great Civil War, beyond the Declaration?

What? Nations spring fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus, like Athena? I think not. It is both the rank arrogance of the politicos, pundits, bureaucrats, combined with an appalling lack of historical perspective that leads anyone to expect that what we are trying to do with Iraq is going to be all cool and rosy once they get this document established.

It will be, at best, an interim document. And it is going to take them every bit as long to come to a more-smoothly functioning system of governance than they have now. We should just be happy if it keeps them so busy they don't have time to engage in mischief.

I add myself to the list of arrogant pundits. But I think I've at least got some historical perspective...

I ramble on in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry, if anyone cares.

Heh. Do they even ask kids to memorise the Preamble anymore, much less *think* about it? Gad, in the eyes of the academics of the Education Industry, the schooling I had may have sucked, but I can still remember, and could write ya a paper on, things like the Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Then there's this,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Granted, in the age of Google, simple rote memorization is somewhat pointless... without the concomitant requirement to thoughtful discourse on the subject...

Whew! Am I a pompous windbag today. Shut up, don't say it. I know what you're thinking....

And is it just me - or is Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (wondrous speech that it is)...:

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who died here that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have hallowed it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

...really not just a better-written and much edited version of Pericles's Funeral Oration?

John | Permalink | Comments (8) | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Politics
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