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Philadelphia 1787 vs. Baghdad 2005

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Excerpts from an excellent Slate article:

"When things go particularly badly in Iraq—anarchy, insurgency, and now the delays in crafting a constitution—President George W. Bush and his top aides point reassuringly to the turbulence surrounding our own Founding Fathers' exertions to forge a republic...

In other words, so this argument goes, the United States of America took 11 years to go from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution; therefore, don't be surprised that Iraq is still writhing a mere two years after the fall of Saddam—or that the delegates to its constitutional convention are experiencing difficulties.

There's something to this, of course, but why does Bush keep bringing it up? Far from easing our concerns about Iraq (ah, well, this is just how things go in the transition to democracy), comparing its plight with that of late 18th-century America—and likening the roundtable in Baghdad's Green Zone to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia—should only intensify the hackles and horrors.

The real inference to be drawn is that the American colonies were as well-fit for a democratic union as any society in human history—and they took more than a decade to get their act together. Today's Iraq enjoys almost none of their advantages, so how long will it take to move down the same path—and how long will we have to stay there to help?"
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