The Iraqi people have overwhelmingly approved the new constitution via Saturday's referendum. Initial reports indicate that Anbar and Salahuddin , Sunni strongholds rejected the constitution by overwhelming majorities.
Both the US government and the Iraqi government ascribe the minimal violence that occurred on Saturday to improved efforts by Iraqi security forces. I would suggest that it is possible, if not probable, that the lack of violence was instead directed by Sunni leadership in an effort to provide a plausible rationale for continued resistance by Baathist deadenders operating from the two provinces. The referendum provides irrefutable proof of two things. 1)The vast majority of Iraqis approve of the new constitution and therefore, the government that will be elected as a result of its approval. 2)Two governates representing less than 9% of the total Iraqi population overwhelmingly reject the constitution and may very well refuse to be governed by those same elected officials.
While the Sunni may regard the rejection as providing a rationale for continued violence, the government coming into being will have every right to treat the two governates as being in de facto rebellion from day one of its existence. Pacification of a governate in rebellion occasioned some of Saddam's most vicious crimes against the Shia and Kurds. They are now taking over governance, the Sunni are (or will be) in rebellion and the Shia and Kurds may choose to deal with that rebellion with a degree of harshness that is commensurate with their own treatment at Saddam's hands.
Should the unfortunate scenario outlined occur - what would an appropriate response on the part of the US entail? Are we going to wind up fighting the new Iraqi Security Forces in order to protect Baathist thugs? How can the rebellious governates be brought to heel without the use of force and, if force is necessary, what right has the US to govern its application upon the Sunni in rebellion?