08 March 2004

As an interesting exercise in captive nation-building, consider the interim Iraqi constitution (HTML, badly translated from Macintosh). The most important stuff is, as usual with controversial documents, buried at the end and in the middle. The end (Articles 61 and 62) establishes deadlines for a new permanent constitution. It allows one failure-to-ratify rewrite, but is silent on the procedures to be followed if the second attempt also fails. Presumably, that means more UN troops.

Then there are interesting provisions like this one:

Article 16.
(A) Public property is sacrosanct, and its protection is the duty of every citizen.
(B) The right to private property shall be protected, and no one may be prevented from disposing of his property except within the limits of law. No one shall be deprived of his property except by eminent domain, in circumstances and in the manner set forth in law, and on condition that he is paid just and timely compensation.
(C) Each Iraqi citizen shall have the full and unfettered right to own real property in all parts of Iraq without restriction.

What do we call this—the Halliburton Clause? Or maybe just the "ignorance clause"—because nowhere does it define "real property." In the West, we mean land and fixtures on the land; depending upon which interpretation one follows, though, that's not necessarily congruent with Islam.