Monday, August 29, 2005

The Philadelphia Experiment


The Iraqi constitutional "process" (now careening towards a bitter and divisive referendum) has already inspired one of the silliest historical analogies I think I've ever heard, at least since Ronald Reagan shuffled off the stage. Hardcore supporters of the democratic transformation of Iraq -- i.e. the deadenders -- have taken to comparing the political camel market in Baghdad to the American constitutional convention of 1787.
The men who met in Philadelpha in the summer of 1787 were the winners of a protracted revolutionary struggle for national independence -- not the leaders of a collection of squabbling ethnic and religious factions, many of whom spent years in exile and then rode back into their native land on the backs of foreign tanks. The framers of the U.S. constitution expelled an occupying army. The founders of the New Iraq are guarded by one.
That said, though, as a student of American history it's hard not to be contemptuous of anyone who would dare compare what the framers tried to do in Philadelphia to the deal that just went down in the Baghdad bazaar. Whatever you think of their politics -- or the utter hypocricy of slaveowners and slave merchants posing as champions of liberty -- the men of 1787 were giants.

The boys of 2005 (and their American sponsors), on the other hand, are just pygmies pretending to be giants. And the Iraqi people are going to be footing the bill for those pretensions -- in blood -- for a long time to come.

Damn, he's good! Don't miss this one.

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