Former American Official Compares Writing of Iraq Constitution to America's in the 18th Century

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Noah Feldman, a professor at New York University School of Law, who helped the Iraqis write their interim constitution, argues in an article in the NYT Magazine that the current drafting of a new constitution in Iraq is comparable to America's in the 18th century:

The less the constitution says about controversial issues, the greater the likelihood that it will be ratified. Even in peaceful Philadelphia, after all, the framers kept the word ''slavery'' out of the Constitution, preferring euphemistic denial, as in the provision stating that ''the Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight.'' Guaranteeing the slave trade for 20 years was a classic instance of the constitutional punt. Such dubious compromises bought the United States more than 70 years, even if they ultimately failed to avert civil war.

He goes on to say that"the specter of a national breakup bedevils the Iraqi negotiators, just as it did the drafters in Philadelphia."

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