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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Legislative Progress in Iraq

Critics have been crying out for the Iraqi legislature to accomplish something. Our own Congress has criticized the Iraqi body for not "getting anything done." They're a fine group to accuse anyone of any such sort. The critics can sit down now, unless they now want to complain about what has been done. The Iraqi legislature has passed three important pieces of legislation today that have required a lot of hard work and compromise on the road to making history.

Good for them!

Using old-fashioned behind-the-scenes politicking, Iraq’s Parliamentary leaders pushed through three divisive laws that had been delayed for months by bitter maneuvering between factions and, recently, threats to dissolve the legislative body.

More than any legislation approved so far, the three measures have the potential to spur reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites and set the country on the road to a more representative government.

The three measures are very important legislatively for Iraq. They cover the Iraqi budget, provisional powers with the country, and amnesty for thousands of detainees held in Iraqi custody under suspicion of belonging to al-Qaeda. The release is crucial to Sunnis, as a majority of the detainees are of that sect. The provisional powers section is important to defining Iraq's status as a federal state. The budget section covers issues important to the Kurds, which ensures their region 17 percent of the nations revenues, minus the cost of providing for the operations of national ministries within the region.

The combining of the three pieces of legislation into one enabled the government to establish a quorum necessary for the passage of any one of the three items. This ended a deadlock that had been ongoing for days, with nothing being accomplished. By combining the three pieces, each faction could come to session and walk away claiming that they had won on their issue.

The one issue of contention that remained was the selection of a date for national elections. Both Sunni and Shiite factions stand to lose seats in the legislature, something both parties have been seeking to avoid (wouldn't the Democrats and Republicans in this country do the same, if in the same circumstance?), but the issue was forced and a date set for the 1st of October.

Critics and naysayers often complain that it is taking "too long" for the Iraqi's to begin the establishment of their own government independently of the involvement of the United States. It is easy to sit back and demand and insist, from the armchair politician standpoint, or even from the opposing party standpoint within our own government, that they move along more quickly.

Our own system of government, as we know it today, took years in the undertaking to come into being. Our first system of national government, the Articles of Confederation, were abolished ten years after their inception in favor of our current Constitutional, representative republic form of government. Great minds of law, philosophy, and political thought came together to discuss and formulate our government. Iraq doesn't have the benefit of that sort of talent. The brightest and the best political thinkers in Iraq were either executed by the Hussein regime or members of it.

It is going to take time.

But this, today, is progress in the right direction.

Once and Always, an American Fighting Man