Hurry Up Please It’s Time

In a surprise visit to Iraq today, Donald Rumsfeld told the drafters of the new Iraqi constitution to get a move on: “We don’t want any delays. They’re simply going to have to make the compromises necessary and get on with it.” Well, sure, but a constitution needs to be done right or it won’t be worth the scrap of paper it’s printed on. Reports indicate that former Afghan ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is now exhorting the Iraqi leaders to draft a decent constitution, something along the lines of what South Africa created in 1994, to end apartheid. Well, fair enough, but let’s not overlook the fact that Mandela, de Klerk, and other groups had been negotiating over that constitution as far back as 1991. Hashing all the relevant disagreements out can take time, and it seems unnecessarily foolish to hold the Iraqi framers to an artificial deadline if they’re not yet ready. Otherwise, any unsatisfactory compromises now, glossed over in haste, will resurface as armed disputes later on.