A Modest Proposal

An Iraqi Vote on Troop Withdrawal

Over the years, we’ve seen various “exit strategies” proposed for withdrawal from Iraq. The best proposal was made by a Baghdad man on his way to a demonstration just a few days after that city fell. A US reporter asked what should happen now. The man turned to the reporter and said, “Thank you for getting rid of Saddam. Now please leave our country.”

That advice was probably the best input that United States policy makers ever received (if they even noticed). It was freely offered and no one died in the process.

Why not give democracy a chance?

The Iraqis have a right to a direct vote on the options for U.S. troop withdrawal.

The ballot would be simple.

Should US troops leave Iraq? Yes No

If you answered Yes, how soon should they leave?

Immediately __ 6 months __ 12 months__ 18 months__

Iraqis have wanted the U.S. out of their country almost from day one. Various surveys show that a solid majority of citizens want coalition troops to leave within a year. In 2004, 86% of Iraqis wanted U.S. troops out — 41% immediately and 46% after a new government was established. At the start of 2006, 94% of all Iraqis supported their government setting a timeline for US withdrawal from immediate departure to a timed departure over two years. A few months later, even a poll by the US Department of State showed nearly 70% of citizens wanted US occupation to end.

Polls in 2007 and 2008 conducted by a variety of organizations demonstrate that a majority of Iraqis want foreign troops to leave.

Here’s why they’re upset. Over a million Iraqis have died in sectarian and other forms of violence kicked off by the US invasion. For the most part, this has been Iraqis killing other Iraqis, an outcome of the extensive civil strife that was predicted before the invasion.

In addition, the quality of life in Iraq is dreadful and the citizens do notice. Since 2007, large segments of the population describe a “declining quality/availability of (the) electricity supply, water, fuel, education, local government and medical care.” Harm to an immediate family member was reported by 17% of Iraqis.

But the Iraqis are no fools. They’ve lived with the darkest expressions of the Bush-Cheney White House since March 2003. Nearly 80% of all Iraqis believe that coalition troops won’t withdraw even if they’re asked.

Just a month after the citizens of the United States saw the neoconservatives and their dreams of empire leave power, a new plan was announced. Most US troops will be withdrawn by within 18 months. Thirty to fifty thousand will remain to help with security and the never-ending process of training Iraqi security forces.

Aren’t we missing a step?

Who asked the Iraqi people about the withdrawal schedule? As the self-proclaimed proponents for democracy and human rights, shouldn’t the United States inquire as to the will of the people before initiating any policy changes? Failing to do so means we’ve skipped a critical step. How democratic is that? It’s their country after all.

Did someone forget to raise those questions when the new plans were developed?

Relying on the ever-shifting positions of a very unpopular Iraqi government is useless in assessing the will of the Iraqi people. The only way to determine their will is through a national election. Should U.S. troops stay or go? If they should go, what is the preferred timeline?

Those who speak the language of empire might say that this modest proposal, democracy for Iraq, allows Iraqi citizens to determine US foreign policy.

The answer to that is simple. Right now US foreign policy trumps Iraqi domestic policy and democracy. Denying the vote to the Iraqis on this most vital matter denies their rights to self-determination and belies the role of the United States as a proponent of democracy.

A 2003 Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Iraq stated that:

“Iraqis remain a proud people. Gratitude over the removal of Saddam mixes with a strong strain of nationalism. Military occupation elicits complex reactions, and Iraqis, citing their long history of civilization, believe that they are capable of running their own affairs.” Committee on Foreign Relations, July 2003

That statement was made in 2003. It’s 2009.

Do we believe in the right of self-determination for the long-suffering people of Iraq? If so, at long last, let’s prove it by letting them chose their own fate.

Michael Collins writes for Scoop Independent News and a variety of other web publications on election fraud and other corruptions of the new millennium. He is one of few to report on the ongoing struggles of Susan Lindauer, an activist accused of being a foreign agent, who was the subject of a government request for forced psychiatric medication. This article may be reproduced in whole or in part with attribution of authorship, a link to this article, and acknowledgment of images. Read other articles by Michael, or visit Michael's website.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on February 25th, 2009 at 9:52am #

    in ’94 clinton may have realized that it wld be easier to control serbia and croatia if nato wldn’t help them get chunks of bosnia.

    around that time, nato must have opted for break up of yugoslavia. by that time, it became known that the serbs were waging wars for an expanded serbia and not for preservation of tito’s yugoslavia.

    iraq and yugoslavia are empires. iraq had been dysfunctional ever since it was established and today may be more dysfunctional than ever.
    how to make it to function? but first, let us consider how wld have US functioned composed of three peoples: ‘jews’, anglosaxons/brits, and french?
    and with three cults: judaism, catholicism, and other christians?

    it wld be, i deduce, a chaotic situation just like in iraq and afgh’n.
    so, is US toying with the idea of de facto break up of iraq?
    giving iraqi kurds what they want makes iran more vulnerable.

    there is no question that nato/US/isr want also to destroy iran. nato/US, by establishing numerous new states in the region, can much more easily control all of them.

    and by merely favoring one over others and changing favorite pets from time to time. not much troops wld be needed- just advisers. thnx

  2. Barry said on February 25th, 2009 at 10:09am #

    Of course, break-up of Iraq is something Israel likes to see. Playing off regional non-Arab states against Arab states has been their policy all along. On the other hand, it is far past time the Kurds had their own state. But Turkey, Iran and maybe Syria will not be happy about that – and are/will be weighing in with Uncle Sam on that.

  3. rg the lg said on February 25th, 2009 at 10:30am #

    Modest proposal?
    Just when has the US ever tolaerated a situation we could not control?

    An election in Iraq, while we pump gillions of dollars into groups we create via the CIA to manipulate the results, as in the 40 plus countries we ‘influence’ in Latin America … Africa … Asia … Europe …

    Some proposal …

    Empires like ours do not allow their surrogates and their lackies … those thay daunt and control … to have a real voice. It would be just another exercise in blatant hypocrisy … something akin to pretending that there is one iota of difference between an O’Bama and a McCain …

    RG the LG

  4. Michael Collins said on February 25th, 2009 at 12:48pm #

    RG the LG, I’m not holding my breath that the Iraqi people will ever be given a choice, whether it be through an election or through insight by the U.S. government. Why is it that the 1.2 million dead civilians are never mentioned domestically except in forums like this? The rest of the world knows. It’s because our government does not think of the people at all. They’re barely an afterthought if they are outside the country and for citizens here, being a feint after thought is doing well.

    I would like to see people ask this question – Why not let the Iraqi people vote on withdrawal? – and ask it frequently enough so tha tit bubbles up to become part of the dialog.

    It’s like having a abunch of relatives show up for a visit, stay years, and then announce they’re taking possession of a bedroom or two. Get the heck out! NOW.

    As far as breaking up Iraq, that’s pretty much in place now. The Sunis have been chased out of Baghdad for the most part, the Kurds are enconsed, and the Shias are wide ranging enough to now have internal conflicts. What holds things together? The payments that the Army is making to various factions to stop them from fighting or turn in others. What a total mess.

    They want us out, they think they’d be safer. What’s our problem? Dreams of empire gone wrong and an inability to admit a huge mistake.