The U.S. Constitution, quoted with reverence today by politicians, wasn't treated with much respect at the time of its adoption.
It was an imperfect document, at best. There was no Bill of Rights in the original document. The difficult question of slavery prompted an unwieldy compromise that deemed slaves be counted as three-fifths of a person when population counts were required. Patrick Henry campaigned against the document because he opposed granting any more power to a centralized government. Three respected members of the constitutional convention refused to sign it.
These flaws and criticisms of our now-hallowed Constitution are worth noting as we assess the interim constitution adopted Monday by the U.S.-picked Iraqi Governing Council. Criticized by many because it has not been approved by an elected national assembly. Others speculate the awkward compromises regarding the influence of religions and the rights of women will doom the document.
Still, there's something inspiring when a fledgling republic takes its first steps in a land that's been brutally ruled by a dictator for decades. If the new Iraqi government can hold together the fragile unity it's formed since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the new constitution might provide a framework for a stable government. A revitalized Iraq might someday be a model for other Mideastern states to emulate as their people seek the type of personal liberties that are afforded citizens in many Western nations.
Iraq's interim constitution is criticized by many now but perhaps Iraqis will someday line up to view it just as Americans do to see their Constitution at the National Archives in Washington D.C.
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