Okay, wait a minute, let’s get this straight: The media is dutifully touting the latest deal brokered by U.S. impressario Zalmay Khalilzad as the breakthrough that will bring the Sunnis to the polls. Essentially, it involves getting them to vote Yes to the constitution on the grounds that it isn’t really the constitution, after all, but will be changed by a parliamentary committee in December. Of course it helps, probably, that hardly any Iraqis have actually seen the constitution on which they’re supposed to vote on Saturday, because the one printed by the UN was available too late (and now seems to be not the final word, anyway). This is not unlike the voters’ first experience of democracy, which was the January election in which the electoral lists between which voters were asked to choose were never made public in order to protect the lives of the candidates. Having voted for secret candidates, the electorate will now be asked to vote for a secret constitution, on the say-so of their leaders. (Kind of like the Harriet Miers scenario).
But if Sunnis are being asked to vote for a constitution simply because they have been guaranteed the right to reject it some months from now, the obvious, Daily Show question would be: Why would they bother to vote at all, now?
Of course the Sunnis who cut this new deal may not exactly be representative, and already various other parties have branded them traitors. No matter, the spin machine will claim victory regardless.
And the precise nature of the deal is the surest sign that far from creating a new political consensus, the constitution has simply once again postponed dealing with the intractable differences. Why do I think this vaunted Sunni “reversal” is not going to pan out and that most will still stay away from the polls? Just a hunch.