Write Iraq’s Constitution!

A contest inviting readers to tackle what the Iraqis cannot.

Negotiators representing Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish populations yesterday blew their deadline to write a constitution. Iraq’s National Assembly has given them one more week to come up with a document that resolves the interests of these three groups to everybody’s satisfaction. This won’t be easy. What do you say we give them some help?

Here are the three major points of contention:

Federalism. The Kurds want a great deal of autonomy. So do the Shiites. The Sunnis don’t want autonomy for these groups. Their motto is E Pluribus Unum. It worked under Saddam, it can work again!

Sharia. The Shiites want to establish a theocracy. All parties, being Muslim, agree that Iraq should be an Islamic state, but the Shiites seek a larger role for religion, including the subjugation of women. Example: Under Sharia, a man may institute divorce proceedings, while a woman may not. Enslaving women: How much is too much? Today on Oprah.

Oil revenues. The Kurds (in the north) and the Shiites (in the south) want to keep a lot of the revenues from oil on their land. The Sunnis (in the middle) don’t have much oil of their own and therefore want oil money to be distributed nationwide. The Iraq war may not have been fought over oil, but the coming Iraqi civil war sure as hell will be!

Readers are invited to resolve these conflicts in 500 words or less. Although the tone of this column is flip, only serious submissions will be considered. Please send entries to under the subject line “Iraq constitution.” Entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. Aug. 16. I tried to get Noah “ After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy” Feldman to judge the results, but he begged off (“we just had a new baby”), so the judge will probably be me. Good luck.