Over at Reason, Steve Chapman rather sneeringly suggests that we should have the people of Iraq vote on whether to continue our military presence in their country.
I think this is a fantastic idea, because I know exactly how they will vote.
Opponents of supporting Iraqi democracy like to forget several key facts:
- Iraq has been a sovereign nation since 2004
- Iraq’s government is recognized by the UN
- Iraq’s government is a democracy elected in a massively observed free election
and, oh yes…
- The duly elected representatives of the people of Iraq have repeatedly voted to authorize the Coalition presence in their country.
People opposed to Iraqi democracy like to harbor delusions about how the people of Iraq believe that they would be better off if we packed up and left tomorrow. For some strange reason, Iraq-democracy opponents often seem to believe that the most extremist, authoritarian, vicious and violent members of the polity represent the majority. Chapman, for example, bizarrely quotes the street gang members of Sadr’s militia as evidence that the majority of Iraqis don’t want us to help them.
More objectively, we can expect the people of Iraq to vote to have us continue to assist them, for the simple reason that they have already repeatedly voted through their representatives to have us do so. We have no reason to believe that a plebiscite will produce a radically different outcome.
Having a plebiscite before the U.S. election would serve to protect the people of Iraq from the dreaded Cambodia scenario regardless of the outcome of the U.S. election. A positive vote might prevent Obama from winning in the first place, and even if it did not, it would make it difficult for him to throw the Iraqis to the wolves when he assumed office.