So Iraq's National Assembly may succeed in approving something called a constitution by tonight's midnight deadline, and the White House will trumpet it, like so many purple fingers, as proof positive that the war on Iraq was a wonderful idea after all.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
If the Shiites and Kurds in the National Assembly succeed in getting a draft constitution adopted tonight, it appears that they'll do so over the objections of their Sunni colleagues. Sunnis are complaining that they've been frozen out of the negotiations, and they're vowing to fight the constitution when it goes to a vote of the people. If they can muster two-thirds opposition in just three of Iraq's 18 provinces, the constitution will fail and the effort to form an Iraqi government will begin again.
But even if it succeeds, will that success really be something to celebrate back in the U.S.A.? Probably not. The problem in Iraq today, for the United States, at least, isn't that the country lacks a constitution. It's that the insurgents are killing U.S. troops. The adoption of a constitution won't stop that any more than the war itself stopped terrorists from attacking London.
The Bush administration would say -- has said -- that the insurgency will die down once a stable Iraqi government begins to make life better for Iraqi citizens. But will the constitution help to do that? It depends on which Iraqi citizens you mean. Under the draft constitution that will apparently be presented to the National Assembly tonight, the Kurds will get what they want and the Shiites will get what they want. The Kurds get formal recognition of an autonomous Kurdish state. The Shiites get an opening to carve out much of southern Iraq into a Shiite-dominated sub-state.
For women? For Iraqis who crave religious freedom? The constitution is less of a cause to celebrate. As the Washington Post describes it, the constitution will turn Iraq into a "loose federation" of states with a central administration run by Islamic law. The constitution will prohibit the adoption of any laws that contradict the teachings of Islam, and Islamic clerics will apparently serve on the court charged with interpreting it.