[MacArthur] said that he had issued no orders or directives, and that he had limited himself merely to suggestions…. He stated that it was his belief, that it was his conviction, that a constitution, no matter how good, no matter how well written, forced upon the Japanese by bayonet would last just as long as bayonets were present, and he was certain that the moment force was withdrawn and the Japanese were left to their own devices they would get rid of that constitution.
—Recorded on January 29,1946, by Nelson T. Johnson, Secretary-General of the Far East Commission
In spite of the storm surrounding its first appearance, the cumbersomely named “Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period” (TAL) has been surprisingly immune from criticism in the West since its initial signing on March 8, 2004. American officials, anxious to declare victories where they can, as well as journalists seeking newsworthiness have insisted on the more accurate and revealing term “interim constitution.” Its technocratic name, designed to neutralize (or hide) its constitutional significance, may partly explain why it has received little critical attention, but a more likely explanation is that many of its readers have rightly or wrongly viewed it as offering better protections for rights, including those of minorities and women, and more safeguards against newforms of authoritarian rule than other constitutions in Islamic countries, especially those in the Arab Middle East, including Iraq's own constitutional past. Commentators are apt to overlook the imposed character of the production of the document, perhaps because they suspect that a more genuinely negotiated and consensual product would very possibly have included fewer supposed protections for rights and safeguards against dictatorship, or at least the “tyranny of the majority.”