The Iraqi Governing Council

Apparently the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) has an alternative to waiting for a constitutional convention to draft a constitution for a new Iraqi government: skip writing the constitution and make the IGC a provisional government, which could then take care of constitution-writing when and if it decided to get around to it. The occupation authorities are apparently so panicked by the worsening security situation, and so eager to have something that looks like an Iraqi government in place, that they’re taking the idea seriously.

Not writing a constitution now would have the additional advantage of avoiding the likely clash with the mullahs, both Sunni and Shi’i, about just how theocratic the new document is to be.

[Or maybe that’s not an advantage: it’s possible that only a government that gives the mullahs a big share of power would be able to mobilize sufficient muscle within Iraq to hold the Ba’athists at bay after our army leaves. Replacing a secular tyranny with a religous one wouldn’t be the regime change we hoped for, and it sure as hell wouldn’t be the “democracy” the President is promising, but it might well be the last bad alternative looking out from where we are now.]

Perhaps if the IGC had some real power, its members would show up for meetings from time to time. The Guardian reports they are often absent now, a detail I don’t recall seeing in American newspapers. Dr. Zeyad, who writes the “Healing Iraq” weblog, and who seems eager to have the reconstruction succeed, thinks he knows why:

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I read today in the local papers, that an American National Security official has arrived in Baghdad to discuss the future of the GC with Ambassador Bremer and to meet representatives from the Council.

Funny thing is he might not find any of them. Iraqis have been joking among themselves lately about GC members, and how only a handful of them are actually in Iraq, while the rest are back in their London apartments or too busy following their own personal agendas and making deals with huge corporations on the expense of Iraqis. Yes, we hear many rumours about such ‘under the table’ transactions by some GC members, pressuring cabinet ministers to pass these deals especially on Electric power and water projects. I say the shit has hit the fan, this is becoming serious and not so much different from the ‘Oil for Palaces’ programs. And people ask why Iraqis distrust the council, well thats why.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: