A compromise

The interim Iraqi government now being formed was preceded by two months of bickering among political factions. The Iraqis became impatient with the National Assembly that 8 million voters had elected Jan. 30 to sculpt the new Iraqi state. Iraqis who expressed at the ballot box their abhorrence for both Saddam Hussein’s police state and the barbarism of the insurgents want to be safe and secure, and want an economic revival.

Frustrating as the politicians’ delay in apportioning posts may have been, however, the very haggling that made them take so long augurs well for Iraq’s future. Hemmed in by an interim constitution that requires a two-thirds majority to approve a three-person presidential council needed to choose a prime minister, Iraqi politicians were compelled to inaugurate the new era with a bout of intensive deal-making. It took as long as it did because the forging of compromises in a democracy is intrinsically inefficient. It will take great patience for compromise to keep disaffected Kurds within a federated Iraq, to persuade the Sunni Arab minority to participate in politics despite losing their old ruling privileges, and to resolve the vexing debate about religion’s role in a permanent constitution. Iraqis will have to muster that patience, and so will the US, which must learn patiently to refrain from meddling in Iraqi politics. — The Boston Globe