Parliamentary Procedure

A Window of Opportunity,” by Spencer Ackerman, Iraq’d, http://www.tnr.com/blog/iraqd?pid=2515, 25 January 2005.

Another statement of a bizarre, counterfactual reality from out of touch Iraqi Sunni Arabs?

Certainly because we withdrew from the elections, that doesn’t mean we won’t be part of the drafting of the constitution,” said Sheik Moayad Ibrahim al-Adhami, a senior member of the Muslim Scholars Association, which says it represents 3,000 mosques and is the most influential Sunni group to call for an election boycott. “The elections are one matter; the constitution is another.”

“All the Sunnis must take part in drafting the constitution,” added Sheik Adhami, who is the imam of Abu Hanifa Mosque, possibly the most anti-American mosque in Baghdad.

Nope.

As Wong writes, there’s a possibility that the Sunnis will transfer their rejectionism to inside the constitution-drafting, using the prospect of uniting three Sunni provinces to veto ratification to press for their interests.

The Basic Law says that a veto by three provinces vetoes the new Constitution. This was inserted into the Basic Law to appease the Kurds, who feared that a pan-Arab movement could crush their aspirations. But with the Sunni Arab-based Salafists-Ba’athists becoming much violent and vile rejectionists than the Kurds ever where, this may present a serious problem.

Could this prospect be the reason for calls to dissolve Iraq? Might we see the surreal prospect of an overwhelmingly popular coup by the Badr Organization, the Peshmerga, et al, if Sunni Arab rejectionists sink a popular constitution?

(This is at least the second time my understanding of an issue has been smashed by a fellow blogger. This time it’s Iraq’d, last time it was Zen Pundit.)

Our Free State

Smoking,” by Chad M. Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, http://www.cleancutkid.com/index.php?id=189, 25 January 2005.

This Just In…,” by John Lauck, South Dakota Politics, http://southdakotapolitics.blogs.com/south_dakota_politics/2005/week4/index.html#a0003351530, 25 January 2005.

Good news from the Mount Rushmore State.

In spite of efforts by health mullahs to regulate private commerce

Some would say this is a matter of public choice and an area where the government should not be involved. I am guessing protecting citizens’ health is not among the functions or priorities of government in the opinion of those who hold this view.

I disagree. The paramount issue here has to be public health, and that public health can be protected and improved through the enactment of this legislation.

freedom won, and regulation went down in flames

This Just In from a state legislator who is instant-messaging to SDP. The proposed smoking ban has met its Waterloo on the House floor, failing 31-39. As I said on Mt. Blogmore, I just couldn’t see this thing passing.

Hurrah! I love my state!

The efforts to band second-hand smoke are not based on science or evidence. It is built by a puritanical impulse than can exist on the left or the right. From the drug war to smoking to international yoghurt scandals (tame, but not safe for work) there is a philosophy that says “if someone is enjoying life, it must be wrong.”

Besides insulting personal freedom, puritanical laws seek to undermine true decency. If we socialize uprightness, then we de-individualize it. The same thing works with religion. Francos’ Spain and the Khomeini’s Iran were states based on faith, and both succeeded in destroying the faith of the people.

If you want a free state, fight for a free state. If you want a decent culture, fight for a free state.

Iraq, Kurdsitan, The Blasted Lands?

U.S. wants Iraqi government to maintain ‘unified state’,” Kuwait News Agency, http://www.kuna.net.kw/Home/Story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=699593, 25 January 2005 (from Roth Report).

Is there serious movement among Shia to allow both Kurdistan and the Sunni Triangle (what’s the word for “The Blasted Lands” in Arabic?) to seceed, forming an overwhelming Shia state?

Serious enough to for us to decry it, at least

Responding to reports that Shia provinces in southern Iraq want to form their own political entity similar to the Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Tuesday said the United States wants the Iraqi government to organize within “a unified state.” Asked by KUNA how concerned the United States would be if Sunni turnout in the Iraqi elections on Sunday was so low that Iraq might eventually splinter into three separate political entities, Boucher said the United States has always supported “Iraq’s territorial integrity, and for the ability of Iraqis to work out their politics and their government organization in a system that allows the participation of all Iraqis of different ethnic backgrounds or religious backgrounds — but always within a unified state.”

As long as a unified state is the aim of the Iraqi government, fine. But if the elections on January 1st give a governing party that does not wish a unified state, we should not stop them. Iraqi is their country, and if the Shia do not wish to rule over the Kurds or deal with murderous salafist violence, they should not have too.

I trifurcated Iraqi state would be a success. It would represent a victory for local democracy. It would improve connectivity. And it would prove a valuable warning for future regimes.

Iraq was not democratically created. There were no founding fathers or great constitutional convention after the end of the Great War. It was merely one of four new states (along with Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq) carved out by two victors. Of the original four, one has already disintegrated (Transjordan into Jordan and Israel, which will soon splinter into Israel and Palestine) and another (Lebanon) has lost territorial integrity. Allowing local sovereigns that represent the will of actual peoples would be a step up, if they wish it so.

Iraq has not been connected. Before Saddam Iraq was poor, illiterate, and backwards, and after a brief rebrith it sank almost all the way back again. Even though they were the original Westernizers, it appears that a significant fraction of Iraq’s Sunnis are hostile to globalization and connectivity. No people can be pulled ahead unwillingly. Even if modern-term strategy requires us to abandon the Sunni Triangle, hooking Kurdistan and Shia Iraq to the rest of the world is a tremendous victory. A free, democratic, and peaceful Kurdistan shows a future worth creating to both Turks and Turkish Kurds. And a non-authoritarian Shia Iraq is a bright light for Shia Iran. The Sunnis represent only 20% of Iraq. 80% victory is not 100% victory, but it is still victory.

And last, Iraq lost a war. In war, victors have to punish the losing nation to dissuade future aggression. Fiscal punishments do more harm than good, but there are concrete ways to dissuade patriots from fighting on the wrong side. While we gave fortunes to Germany after the Second World War, they lost Prussia and Silesia forever. In East Asia, Japan will never regain Taiwan or Korea. And if Iraq falls apart, the Sunnis will never regain Kirkuk, Baghdad, or Basra. The threat of losing forever is valuable. Pyongyang will be waching. Korean patriots in the North have to realize that one possible future is the annexation by the DPRK into China. Showing them how the Iraqi Sunnis lost forever would be instructive.

I do not favor forcing Iraq to break up. But it would not be serious set back. And it would have its uses.

Cobuyitaphobia

“Thoughtful” posts coming soon. For now, two personal links.

Brendan is a good friend of mine from years back. His latest post is on “Cobuyitaphobia,” and other problems of corporate life.

John is a Soldier blogging from Iraq. I understand why his sort-of-views aren’t published by the media more, but they should be. Not pro-war, not anti-war, but realistic on war. He is the best friend of my younger brother, and it is the closest knowledge I have of Iraq.

That’s all for now.

Update: No Cobuyitaphobia for Sekunjalo

Bush, Author of Korean Good News

China Asks N. Korea to Admit Uranium Program,” by Jung Gwon-hyeon, Digital Chosunilbo, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200501/200501240020.html, 24 January 2005.

Opposition Pushes for NK Rights Act,” by Reuben Staines, The Korea Times, http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/200501/kt2005012517072410220.htm, 25 January 2005.

Good news from Korea, via One Free Korea.

The Chinese are stepping up pressure on Pyongyang to tell the truth

The paper, quoting multiple officials connected with the six-party talks about North Korea’s nuclear issue, said the change in the Chinese position was the result of the U.S. presenting Beijing with persuasive evidence of the uranium program. China is asking the U.S. for energy assistance to North Korea conditional on Pyongyang admitting to and abandoning its nuclear programs.

With the second Bush administration signaling that it wants to tackle the nuclear issue through dialogue, Beijing has been keen to restart the six-party talks, the Nihon Keizai reported. China mediated the U.S.-North Korea contacts in New York last November and December.

While in South Korea, the Grand National Party (South Korea’s center-right party) is getting on the human rights bandwagon

The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) is pushing ahead with a South Korean version of the controversial North Korean Human Rights Act enacted by the United States late last year.

The bill, which calls for Seoul to take a leading role in assisting North Korean defectors, was put forward by Rep. Hwang Woo-yea and is cosponsored by all 120 lawmakers from the conservative GNP, party officials said Tuesday.

Hwang said the party will seek to pass the legislation by the end of the year, but it will need first to win the backing of at least 30 other lawmakers in the 299-seat National Assembly.

A GNP policy analyst said the legislation is designed to complement the U.S. human rights act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in October.

“The bill starts from a premise that our country has the most interest in North Korean issues,” a GNP policy advisor said. “Some elements overlap with certain provisions of the U.S. law, but our country should have enacted the law first,” the policy expert said.

The legislation would make it easier for North Koreans who have fled their homeland to seek asylum and safe passage to South Korea, other GNP officials said

If enacted, it would allow defectors to apply for refugee status by contacting officials at any South Korean diplomatic missions worldwide, they said.

Under the bill, the South Korean government would issue passports to defectors upon request, the party officials said, arguing that this is in line with the Constitution which recognizes North Koreans as citizens of the South.

Japanese lawmakers are also reportedly moving to introduce legislation targeting Pyongyang’s human rights. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has begun drafting a bill in the same mold as the U.S. act that would ban aid to the North until it improves its human rights record, including the dispute over Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents during the Cold War.

What’s the thread in these two stories, besides the good news? That both rely on U.S. diploamcy. In the debates Senator Kerry advocated unilateral talks with the North. Fortunately, President Bush’s wise multilateralism is laying the groundwork for an Asian NATO.

President Bush is a master at great-power diplomacy. I doubt that our country has ever had relations as good with India, China, Japan, and Russia as we do now. This, at least as much as Bush’s “unilateralism” in the Iraq War, is the cause of Old Europe’s hostility.

Bush works with great powers — the world capitals that shape the future. Any future worth creating begins in Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Washington. Cities like Paris and Berlin, while having something to contribute, are not world powers (if even regional powers for long). Paris and Berlin are in the same category as Warsaw, not Washington