Monday, June 12, 2006


As an observer, I'm necessarily bothered by the hopelessness of the Iraq situation. Our continued presence is not making the situation any better. At the same time, we don't want to leave. We certainly don't want to see a vacuum in Iraq; most appalling, however, is the message sent by "cutting and running." There's no net positive escape.

Here's a suggestion: why not hold an Iraqi referendum on the continued presence of American troops? This should be an obvious step: if we're in the business of promoting democracy, we're obligated to let Iraqis themselves decide whether our military should remain in their nation. More importantly, such a referendum can't make the situation worse. If the verdict is "yes," we will possess considerably more legitimacy. There will inevitably be claims of vote-rigging, but we can't possibly appear less credible than we are now. If the decision is "no," then we're provided with the best remaining exit: we can effectively "cut and run," but we'll be honoring the will of the Iraqi people. Best of all, this instantly dissolves ubiquitous Arab conspiracy theories about American imperialism.

Why not?

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