August 29, 2005

Iraq Constitution or Peace Treaty?

Over at ParaPundit, Randall Parker quotes professor Karol Soltan that the "constitutional convention" in Baghdad is actually more like a peace treaty negotiation:

"It's not like Philadelphia. They're not 13 relatively homogeneous states at little risk of fighting a civil war. They're trying to prevent an early-stage civil war from exploding. They've spent a lot of time trying to settle borders and generally diminish the potential for violent conflict. In effect, they're working out key provisions of a peace treaty. Constitution-making is much more difficult."

In some ways, that's an encouraging perspective. The Iraqis don't have to work out rules for governing that they'll all abide by. For purposes of the U.S. getting out of there, theyl just have to work out how to stay out of each other's hair.

The problem, as always, is oil. It's relatively easy for the Swiss to get along with each other because individuals are highly productive and the country has few natural resources to squabble over. In contrast, Iraqis aren't very good at producing good and services, but the territory is loaded with oil.

On the other hand, Iraq has so much oil that it might be possible to divvy up the pie in such a way that everybody gets at least a moderate sized slice. A reader writes:

Your item about Ahmad the Thief set off an epiphany: with the rise in oil prices, Iraq’s oil wealth is now worth over $8 trillion. (If the price hits $100/barrel, that # goes to $10 trillion). Since there are roughly 27 million Iraqis, that amounts to a per capita wealth of about 300 grand. So the potential for a happy ending is there.

Two questions remain:

1) Will the new leadership be honest and wise enough to distribute this wealth fairly (or will it end up in the Chalabi family Swiss Bank Account?). Will they invest in their future?

2) Can the grassroots realize that they have a potential windfall coming and refrain from killing each other?

There two questions are the whole shooting match (perhaps not the best cliché to use here!). I’d only give it a 10% chance of working. But six months ago, I would have said it’s less than 1%. So perhaps Wolfie’s idea of (to borrow Pat Buchanan’s term) “starting a fire in the world’s gas station” had some wisdom after all. Let’s see: the rest of the world has to undergo a recession and energy crisis to fulfill Wolfie’s vision. Talk about sacrifice!

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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