Let the Iraqis Decide

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.

44 thoughts on “Let the Iraqis Decide”

  1. “…it would make it difficult for him to throw the Iraqis to the wolves when he assumed office.”

    I think Obama has to make sure that the United States suffers an unambiguous military defeat in Iraq, “the full 1975” with our embassy on fire, and helicopters off the roof, cheering mobs burning the US flag, and our allies being massacred in the streets.

    It is an article of faith that Iraq is a disaster and it is Bush’s fault, and that American meddling in foreign places is imperialism and evil. The only conceivable outcome, morally and practically, that his supporters will tolerate is a pullout. I have no reason to think he won’t give it to them. The ensuing massacres, destruction of people who trusted us, etc. is what is expected and desired by Obama’s supporters. Like Cambodia, it will be blamed on our intervention, we “drove them mad” by our invasion.

    Lots of people on the isolationist/paleocon/Libertarian Right want this to happen, too, so that the USA never does anything like this again.

    With such a broad constituency for defeat, the well-being of the Iraqis is a non-issue. We are not a sentimental people, when it comes to the tradeoff between American lives and foreign lives. The Democrats are going to win the next election and the Iraqis are truly screwed. As Zenpundit recently reminded us, being America’s “friend” usually means you are going to be tossed under the bus sooner rather than later.

  2. I agree with Lexington Green about Obama and his traitor pals. However, Unlike South Vietnam Iraq has significant income from oil exports. I recently read that production now exceeds 2.5 million BPD. At 125 dollars per barrel, that’s over 300 million dollars a day.

    It may well happen that by the time Obama gets around to stabbing them in the back the Iraqi government will be strong enough to last without US troops or support.300 mil a day can quell a lot of discontent and buy a lot of heavy weapons.

    In other words, there might be a lot of disappointed traitors in Washington in 2009.

  3. The “defeat” of 1975 was preceded by the “Vietnamization” of the war, we had withdrawn most of our troops and the South Vietnamese were doing the majority of the fighting. It actually wasn’t going to bad. Then the Democratic controlled Congress cut of the US funding of the South Vietnamese military, which wouldn’t have been too bad, but somehow they neglected to cut off the outside support for the North Vienamese. The South Vietnamese morale plumited and the North Vietnamese figured they had Ted Kennedy’s permission to Move the heavy divisions south, and so they did.

  4. Lex,

    I think you underestimate how important it is to leftist that they view themselves as rescuers. They claim the liberation is a horrible thing because the people of Iraq prefer physical security, indignity and hopelessness of despotism to the physical insecurity, dignity and hope that the struggle for self-determination brings.

    A plebiscite would force them confront the actual wishes of the people in whose interest they claim to act.

  5. Shannon, I hope you are right. I think the Leftist as “rescuer” thing is ending. It was one of the few things they had in their favor, their commitment to human rights. Christopher Hitchens talks about this. That seems to have died in Iraq along with a lot of other stuff.

  6. Toad,
    I’ve been asking people if they’ve ever heard of the North Vietnamese Easter offensive of 1972. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has. Generally, their knowledge of the Vietnam begins at Hamburger Hill and jumps to the helicopters dripping the soon-to-be-murdered.Everything in between is missing.

    Now since the South Vietnamese army successfully held off the huge NVA Easter invasion force (with US air and logistical support) I don’t think this an accident. If the American public knew that the South Vietnamese army could stand up to the North mano-a-mano, then the idea that the Vietnam war was always unwinnable would be severely shaken. And the left and their pet media can’t have that or maybe the public would asking other questions too- like why was was the South abandoned and how the hell was that any way justifiable if you were really interested in protecting American interests or even preventing mass murder.

    I’m sure Obama wants a repeat this scenario for Iraq- he cuts them off, the government is erased along with a few million of the most pro-American inhabitants, and “progressive” media in the US spreads the lie that the war was doomed from the start.

    However, as I noted above Obama can’t cut off Iraqi oil money. My hope is that by the time Obama and co. take over the Iraqi government will have sunk roots deep enough and armed itself well enough that it won’t matter that US troops are gone. If nothing else they could use some of the money to keep Blackwater around.

    This may be a forlorn hope but it’s more than South Vietnam had

  7. I don’t know how all of this will play out, but I think that if we willfully repeat our Vietnam debacle in Iraq, the people in our political leadership who are responsible are much more likely to be held accountable this time around. There was no Internet in 1975, and leftist media and academics controlled the narrative and protected blameworthy leaders long enough for the latter to enjoy, in most cases, full and tranquil careers. I doubt that will happen this time around, if Iraq goes TU because President Obama and the Democratic Congress abandon it. Some people will always be foolish enough to believe spin about how it was all Bush’s fault, but most Americans, I suspect, will eventually come to see things clearly. This is especially likely to be true if a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq leads to more problems for us in the world, as I assume it would.

    It is also possible that Obama, if he is elected, will decide that the safest political course is to stay in Iraq. And of course he is far from certain to be elected.

  8. Xennady
    Ayup, Most people don’t know what a Saigon Commando is either. They were the equivalent of the current Green Zone Hotel Bar Lizzards who got all their news from Bathists stringers.

    As you say this time around their is the Internet, mil-blogs, and talk radio. Also their is a suppresed rage amongts some that if the MSM and the left does what it did in the Vietnam Era some lamp posts are going to get decorated.

  9. I can’t see a very successful blockade given modern technology but Belmont Club’s describes a congressional ban on US “military propaganda”. Of course, while it was Bush who was charged with a lack of intellectual curiosity, certainly Obama’s claims about Iraq seem to reflect little curiosity about the real place nor the real war. It remains static in his mind, a place where, apparently, he always demonstrates good judgment and wisdom.

    Between 1972 and the last few years a generation has grown up, but in most minds, in most reports, in most histories, the take shown in these comments is not even considered. Most of us only came slowly to realize that Vietnam was not the way we saw it portrayed. Indeed, I suspect few Viet vets could assemble a differing understanding. I don’t think we have the kind of time (this time) it is taking for these reassessments.

  10. No, we do not have the time. Our political class is re-arguing Vietnam in slow motion, our mass-media are vapid and corrupt, and the attention of many of our most public-spirited citizens is occupied by marginal controversies about wiretapping and airline security. Much of the debate is being framed by people who are far behind the times. Thank God for the Internet, but we have a lot to worry about.

  11. I won’t engage in The Dems lost the war and they will lose Iraq. The American people decided that the Nam war had to end. Not the GOP. Not the Dems. That war now over, look, back: what had we lost when we left? we trade with them. We visit.
    Iraq? more and more reports via Congress and those working in and for the administration now tell us what the “left” has said all along: the war was based on a lie and 4 thousand troops died. Now you will argue that we have done a good thing in getting rid of Saddam. But we bolstered him and supported him from the beginning! and now Iran is the major force in the region whereas previously Iraq kept Iran in check.
    as for Viet Nam: the cliche that the Dems and liberals pulled out etc is sheer nonsense. it was ended under NXON and furthered under LBJ. the Ameican containment policy told lies etc to enter the war and to reject the Geneva understanding that would have voted for peaceful union of the Viet Nams. Washington refused to accept a vote!
    for a fair and truly balanced view;


    and I am not excusing the left or the right, the Dems or the GOP…
    No draft in America and that war would still be going on.
    We as a nation did many questionable things during the cold war. There are those who say it was justified. But those who say such things are at least willing to admit what we had done. then there are others who think whatever we did was ok but whatever failed was the fault of–the liberals. If JFK and LBJ are liberals, then they were very much involved in Viet Nam war.

    magical thinking does not change things

  12. The failure of Congressional Democrats to provide incremental assistance to South Vietnam, at a time when the South might have prevailed had it been able to hold out for another year or two, was a gratuitous betrayal that lead directly to millions of deaths and to many years of setbacks for American interests and for freedom worldwide. That is the least of what we can expect if we abandon Iraq anytime soon. You and the Democratic leadership continue to avoid acknowledging the fact that our abandonment of South Vietnam led directly to catastrophe. In the case of the Democratic leadership, this attitude is profoundly threatening to our national interest.

    Yes, we trade with Vietnam. We trade with Germany too, so why get bent out of shape by negative thoughts about the Second World War and the Holocaust? Because history matters, that’s why. How a country gets from Date A to Date B matters. The lives of ordinary people in little countries that get turned upside-down by the caprices of ignorant fools who elect feckless leaders in big countries matter.

    We made many mistakes in Vietnam. By far the worst of those mistakes was Congress’s final decision to cut off aid to the South. Yet somehow the lefty geniuses who continually point our our failings in Vietnam never focus on this point. It’s always something else — 1954 or Diem or Nixon or whatever.

    It is extremely important that we not repeat Congress’s great abandonment of 1975.

  13. Jonathan & Toad,
    It’s certainly true that it isn’t 1972 or 1975 and the media environment has changed. I think this is one reason Pelosi et al haven’t been able make us lose already is because they sense that too many Americans know the truth despite their best efforts.

    I expect after the next election they’ll make an attempt to shut down conservative talk radio by any means necessary and I wouldn’t put it past them to try and censor the internet too.

    They may or may not succeed and it may or may not matter for Iraq but that’s what I see coming.

  14. “and now Iran is the major force in the region whereas previously Iraq kept Iran in check.”

    How the hell did Saddam’s third world army keep Iran in check? That is laughable. The only way Iran could become the major player in the region is if the Iraqi government falls because Saint Obama cripples them.

    Too much caffeine today? I’m surprised that ignorant little rant wasn’t written in all capital letters.

    Lies, huh? I’d say literally every word and letter in what you wrote is either a baldfaced lie or a blatant distortion designed to mislead. Now I’m not saying that they’re your lies. I’m saying that you don’t know the difference between what really happened and the leftist traitor version the media spat out to fool the American people and cause our defeat.

    That’s one reason I’ve been asking people about the Easter offensive. As Toad and Jonathan note above it’s different now but back then your media was about the only media to be had, bad and disloyal as it was. The answers I’ve received have told me a lot about just how malign of a job the press did.

    Do you really think anyone commenting here or even reading this site isn’t familiar with the leftist traitor cartoon comic book version of world history, including the chapters on Vietnam? Maybe, but I suspect not. So spare me the attempt to educate me.

    What did we lose? Are you effing kidding? 58000 dead for what turned out to be defeat. Billions of dollars wasted. Millions murdered. And for a tiny fraction of what had already been spent, the failure could have been prevented.

    That matters to me and I don’t want to see it happen again in Iraq.

  16. Fred Lapides,

    The American people decided that the Nam war had to end.

    But they decided based on what information? How could the people make any other decision based on the information they received from the media and academia? They decided to give up because the gatekeepers of information only let the see the cherry picked information that showed them inevitable defeat.

    The Democrats do have a special burden because they betrayed the people of South Vietnam and Cambodia. In 1974, Tom Harkin and Ted Kennedy both sponsored legislation that cut off military, financial and even agricultural support for all the non-communist forces in Indochina. The Soviets and the Chinese by contrast, poured in material and personnel. The communist won due to overwhelming force, not popularity. Had the Democrats provided the support that Nixon had negotiated today South Vietnam would look like South Korean and Cambodia would look like Thailand and would have never suffered the greatest proportional democide of the 20th century.

    The betrayal permanently damaged U.S. national security. Since then every street gang with an RPG thinks they can take on the U.S. and win. Based on Osama Bin Ladins own words, 9/11 happened because he believed he could attack with impunity because the U.S. would not risk another Vietnam-like conflict in Afghanistan.

    The choices politician make matter. Yes, we won the Cold War but millions needlessly suffered and died just to satisfy the political ambitions and the self-righteousness of the American Left. We are struggling to make sure that grim history does not repeat itself. A plebiscite would help that along.

  17. “They decided to give up because the gatekeepers of information only let the see the cherry picked information that showed them inevitable defeat… The communist won due to overwhelming force, not popularity. Had the Democrats provided the support that Nixon had negotiated today South Vietnam would look like South Korean and Cambodia would look like Thailand and would have never suffered the greatest proportional democide of the 20th century.”

    Amen. I worked in refugee settlement in 1975 – those Vietnamese who came out in 1975 in the main were good and decent people. Our political and intellectual elite left them hanging in the winds of the new socialist order, I never saw Hanoi Jane or any of her ilk working to resettle all those people who fled Vietnam or Cambodia in the 1970s. I’m amazed that any of them have the brass to show their faces in public.

    We cannot let what happened to the South Vietnamese happen to the Iraqis. We cannot – we’ll have no honor left as a nation. Especially since they seem on the verge of being able to manage things for themselves, very effeciently. How dare it be suggested that we just throw the Iraqis to the wolves… how bloody dare they!?

  18. “We cannot let what happened to the South Vietnamese happen to the Iraqis.”

    Watch. Obama is going to make it happen.

    “…we’ll have no honor left as a nation.”

    We are supposed to have no honor as a nation. We are supposed to have nothing “as a nation”. We are supposed to discard everything we have and everything we are “as a nation”. People like Obama, and most of his supporters, and most supposedly sophisticated people despise America “as a nation”. America “as a nation” is the enemy of everything they believe in and hope for. Bringing America “as a nation” to an end is what they want to see happen.

  19. Iran started it’s current build up once it witnessed the American political system turn against Bush. Iran got the confirmation it wanted that Bush’s tough no-nonsense policy post-9/11 was only temporary.

    Democrats should be the last people to complain about enabling our enemies.. with every attack on Bush, the Democrats transmit the signal to our enemies.. push the US and the Dems will cause us to cave.

  20. The Vietnamese refugees and their descendants who settled in my hometown of Garden Grove, CA voted for Bush over Kerry by a giant margin (90%?).

  21. * Iraq has been a sovereign nation since 2004

    It is not. For example they wanted Blackwater out, the U.S. wants Blackwater to stay so they are still there. The Americans have ultimate veto over anything in Iraq. The Iraqis are not sovereign, they don’t even have a functioning army.

    * Iraq’s government is recognized by the UN

    So whatever the UN says goes? Really? What has that got to do with anything? China recognizes Iraq! Chewbacca is a Wookie! The UN said not in invade!

    * Iraq’s government is a democracy elected in a massively observed free election

    And since that government’s authority and stability comes from an occupying army the people’s votes are meaningless. All of the other candidates could have won and Iraq would still be in the exact same political shape; their policies can be overridden at anytime for any reason by the occupying force.

    That government also wants American gone

    >I think this is a fantastic idea, because I know exactly how they will vote.

    Me too.

  22. This may sound OT, but I don’t think it really is:

    The American leftist community and the media was shocked by 9-11 in a way that average Americans were not. They were confronted by the harsh reality that there really are deadly forces out there that are beyond the reach of reason and understanding, something that does not match their narrative of America as the source of the world’s ills. They have responded by going almost literally insane.

    In the process, the media has dragged nearly half the country into the loony-pit with it. While many in the media are actually insane, many others leverage this condition in a calculated effort to destabilize the US, something they believe would be a great virtue.

    I hope that McCain gets angry enough to run against the media, and I hope more Republicans do too. The majority of Americans, unlike some commenters above, are fully aware of how the media thinks of itself as a branch of government, but one that is not accountable to anyone, and is fully entitled to lie to the people in its estimation of the greater good.

    There is a tremendous undercurrent of anger and frustration in this country, and it is not with Bush and his policies as those who control the flow of information smugly assure us… it is in fact with those self-annointed gatekeepers themselves. Many Americans have succumbed to the media’s lunacy, but many more are fully aware of the terrible threat it poses to us.

  23. And since that government’s authority and stability comes from an occupying army the people’s votes are meaningless. All of the other candidates could have won and Iraq would still be in the exact same political shape; their policies can be overridden at anytime for any reason by the occupying force.

    Dream on. By that logic, the people of Europe still live under the thumb of “American cccupation” – an “accupation” that has continued since 1945. No doubt all voting in Europe since then is rendered meaningless by the American puppetmasters (maybe Europe even supplies the extra states in Obama’s 57-state America).

    Any other straw men you want knocked down? Line ’em up!

  24. That’s not what a strawman argument is, you should understand the term before using it.

    The nations of Europe that still have an American presence are not under occupation by any definition of the word, they have their own stand-alone military and police forces. The American government has no say on domestic issues. Furthermore there aren’t any American mercenaries acting as a shadow force.

    Are you really this confused that you can’t tell the differences between Germany and Iraq? One of the big clues is how many American soldiers have been killed in Germany in the last five years due to enemy action vs. how many in Iraq. The difference is quite startling, you should look into it.


    You are a well-trained leftist equivocator using carefully-selected facts and carefully-presented distractions to mislead unfortunately-ignorant listeners.

    1. Leftists Lied to Americans by claiming no military progress in Vietnam.

    2. Leftists then forced America to Abandon Southeast Asia to the communists (Case-Church Amendment, 1973)

    3. Leftists thus Enabled the resulting Southeast Asian genocides (Killing Fields, Boat People, Re-education Camps).

    4. Leftists know – but just don’t care – that communists always mass-murder the “enemies of the people” whenever they take over countries (Russia in the ‘20s; China in the ‘40s; Korea in the ‘50s; Eastern Europe after the war, etc.)

    5. Leftists are the moral equivalent of hyenas dressed in formal-wear. (No examples, just my
    – entirely accurate – opinion.)

  26. Salvage,

    For example they wanted Blackwater out, the U.S. wants Blackwater to stay so they are still there.

    No, some Iraqi wanted Blackwater out and as usual opponents of Iraqi democracy chose to hold those up as representing all Iraqi. The actual parliament voted to transfer the licenses of private security firms from the Coalition nations to Iraq itself so that Iraq can regulate them. As such, they have the legal right eject them at will.

    So whatever the UN says goes? Really? What has that got to do with anything?

    It merely shows that recognition of Iraq as a sovereign country extends beyond those countries in the Coalition.

    The UN said not in invade!

    No, it did not. The UN never voted to oppose the liberation. Neither did it vote to rescind its previous authorizations to carry out military action in Iraq. Again a lot of individual members of the UN made a lot of informal comments and you chose to regard those statements as the legal will of the UN.

    And since that government’s authority and stability comes from an occupying army the people’s votes are meaningless.

    No, the government’s authority comes from the people. Threats to its stability come largely from external actors like Iran and the Jihadist. By you standards, Federal troops in the south during reconstruction meant that African-Americans did not a true vote or that Japan and Germany have not been sovereign for the last 60 years. We didn’t interfere with the vote so the vote is valid. A lot of people won office that we would have preferred not to.

    That government also wants American gone.

    From your own link:

    Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) released a letter today from 31 Iraqi legislators asserting that the proposed agreement is opposed by a majority of the parliament if it does not include a specific timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. military troops.

    So 31 of (IIRC) 295 Iraqi legislators sign an informal letter requesting timetables for withdrawal and you interprets that as a formal statement that the elected Iraqi government wants us to withdraw. Wow.

    Me too

    Poll are not votes. Polls produce widely varying results depending on the wording. Polls in Arabic face cultures are notoriously inaccurate because Arabs have a cultural bias against reporting their honest opinions to strangers. You will recall that in the last election something like 40% of those polled claimed they would not vote but in the end 80%+ of the electorate voted.

    You clearly suffer from classic confirmation bias. You cognitively distort information to fit your preexisting conclusions. That is another reason I support a plebiscite. It’s the only mechanism I can think of whose results people like you could not distort.

  27. salvage June 7th, 2008 at 11:27 am said:

    “Are you really this confused…”

    You are the one who is confused. Snotty responses are not intelligent comment.

    Although intelligence and snot both come from the head, “the difference is quite startling, you should look into it”.

  28. I usually save this ’til just after they’ve blown their last truth gasket (about 9.11 seconds into the ‘debate’)…But whenever I ‘debate’ some fool, who fancies themself a “progressive”, I like to point out how I recon they’re full of sh*t.

    What I mean to say is that if they actually believed the hacktastic party rhetoric claiming George W. Bush “stole the election” and/or was somehow responsible for the terrorist “Reichstag” attacks on 9-11-01, they are either an ignorant sheep-like-thing, or an outright lying bastard – either way they and their komraden are certainly little more than cowards.

    They prove this by essentially ‘tolerating’ what they claim was a Coup d’état by the hated “Zionist” “Neocon” “Cabal” (i.e. lefty/islamist coalition code for “Der ewige Jude”).

    Anyway, it sometimes feels as if the world clock has been rewound to 1932 or thereabouts, however in place of an FDRish [chicken]hawk, the copperhead American left decides to elevate a slightly repackaged version of Carter.

    Good luck with that.

  29. Strangely, I can’t seem to find the poll that Steve Chapman refers to when he says “A February poll found that 73 percent of Iraqis oppose the presence of foreign troops in Iraq…” The lack of cidirect citation is notable–if we are supposed to consider that poll you would think Chapman would actually supply some traceable reference–but he does NOT.

    What I did find was a March 2008 poll [PDF] that showed only 1% of Iaqis wanted us to NEVER leave, but also showed that 62% of Iraqis do not want us to leave now. Chapman says:

    Americans spend a lot of time debating the question of whether we should remain in Iraq. What never seems to occur to us is to ask the Iraqis the same question.

    But the poll, sponsored in part by the AMERICAN Boradcasting Company, does exactly that, and it showed that at least 62% of Iraqis want us to stay until security is sufficiently restored, the Iraqi government is stronger, and Iraqi security forces can operate independently.

    More commentary on the poll can be found here. It does not say what Mr. Hcaapman seems to want us to think it says.

  30. Is this article a joke? I notice there’s no reference to actual polls of the Iraqi people, in which case you will discover that they think the surge has failed and want us to leave. The “elected” government doesn’t even represent large portions of the electorate because rightly or wrongly, many parties boycotted the elections. Here’s some reading for you freedom fighters:


  31. SusanaSanJuan,

    I notice there’s no reference to actual polls of the Iraqi people, in which case you will discover that they think the surge has failed and want us to leave.

    I did not refer to polls because polls are unreliable. You can manufacture a poll to get whatever results you wish especially, with a naive 3rd world population. If you actually cared to challenge your own beliefs you could find polls that do show that the majority of Iraqi support us staying to help.

    In the end, only elections really reflect the will of the people. I am willing to put my beliefs to the test. Are you?

    The “elected” government doesn’t even represent large portions of the electorate because rightly or wrongly, many parties boycotted the elections.

    The boycotts were mostly Sunni (20% and angry they had lost dominance) and the Sunni have since rejoined the government. The present government does reflect the will of the people. I suspect you are just one of those people who believe that any democracy that doesn’t decide as you wish isn’t really democracy (What’s the matter with Kansas).

    Instead of arguing amongst ourselves, we should ask the people of Iraq directly.

  32. I’m surprised that no one here seems to advocate the obvious position: that we should honor the request of the Iraqis, independent of what it is, and admitting that we can’t be sure how they should vote.

    Everyone here either believes that it is good for the U.S. to stay in Iraq, and that is how the Iraqis will vote, or it is bad for the U.S. to stay in Iraq, and that is also how the Iraqis will vote. They seem to just assume that their personal preferences would be reflected in what happens.

    The real test is this: for those who wish the U.S. would pull out, what policy would you recommend if the Iraqi people voted for the U.S. to stay for now? And to those who want the U.S. to stay there, what policy would you support if the Iraqis voted for us to leave?

    BTW this is from a recent poll, in March, the 5th anniversary of the invasion:

    Indeed, on a basic level, the presence of foreign forces remains unwelcome: Just 26
    percent of Iraqis support having U.S. and coalition troops in their country, up a scant 5
    points. But this doesn’t mean most favor immediate withdrawal. Well under half, 38
    percent, say the United States should leave now, down from a peak 47 percent in August.

    One reason is that Iraqis are divided on what might follow U.S. withdrawal; 46 percent
    think it would make security better, but the rest say it would make security worse or leave
    it as it is now. Those who think immediate withdrawal would improve security are twice
    as likely to support it.

    So this recent poll does suggest that a vote would recommend that the U.S. not leave at this time. However as noted above, polls are not votes, so I don’t think any of us can be confident of what would actually happen in an election. Indeed, no one in the world would be able to know the outcome for sure in advance.

  33. That’s not what a strawman argument is, you should understand the term before using it.

    Oh yes it is, Savage! You have set up a phony argument – America is in Iraq to manipulate the Iraqi government and people – and then try to knock it down it with dubious claims about the majority of Iraqis wanting us to leave.

    Your argument about Germany does not make sense. Why is “American occupation” in Germany somehow magically different from Iraq? If the fact that the Iraqi government wants us to say longer is simply a product of American pressure, why cannot the same argument be made that German government is also being manipulated by Americans? In fact, I know some Germans personally who have made the claim that America manipulates Germany and other European countries through military and foreign aid. You cannot have it both ways, Savage.

    Your comment about European countries having stand-alone armies is not accurate. The hard truth is that many European countries do not want to spend sufficient funds to defend themselves, and therefore “outsource” to Americans. That’s what happened in the Cold War. That is also why despite the anti-American posturing of some European politicians no European government is seriously suggesting that American soldiers leave their soil. Not exactly a case of “stand-alone” armies, I would say. By your own definition, Europe is occupied by America.

    I am still trying to decipher your weird comment about “American mercenaries acting as a shadow force”. Perhaps you mean Blackwater, but it is not clear. At any rate, Blackwater seems to serve the same function as mysterious black helicopters, fluoridation of public drinking water, detonation of skyscrapers and Area 51 do in this country – an outlet for wacky conspiracy theories.

    Keep the straw men coming!

  34. SusanaSanJuan wrote:

    “The “elected” government doesn’t even represent large portions of the electorate because rightly or wrongly, many parties boycotted the elections.”

    Au contraire, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

    The boycotting parties have the representation they chose.


    Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

  35. Hal,

    And to those who want the U.S. to stay there, what policy would you support if the Iraqis voted for us to leave?

    We should leave. The Iraqi people probably have a better understanding of the situation than we do. If they think they are better off without us they probably then they probably are. Even if they are wrong, trying to help a country when true majority of the people there do not want you to won’t work.

    On the other hand, if most Iraqi think we help then we should. The long term benefits would be enormous.

  36. I agree, a plebiscite on the next year of security agreement would be a good idea. I think it would pass about 60-40.

    Some lefties will point to polls that suggest the Iraqis want us leave. Most polling, however, generally breaks down thus: a large majority want us to leave eventually, a smaller majority want us to leave within a year, a minority want us to leave immediately. A majority want us leave when Iraq is secure.

    The Sadrists believe they would win such a poll, but they’re most likely wrong. Should such a poll actually be held, you can bet Iraq’s politicians will be warning people security may get a lot worse if we do leave.

  37. Chapman also cites the February poll in a similarly misleading fashion. He doesn’t link the poll, and for good reason: the poll finds only 38% want coalition forces to leave immediately (p4), down from 47% in August 2007.


    And in fact that number is likely overtstated, as it wildly oversamples Sunnnis (p44), who tend to be most opposed to coalition forces. The survey puts them at 30%, which is about 10% too high by most estimates, which place them at 10-20%.

    It’s also likely that number has continued to improve right along with the security situation, as it did from Aug to Feb.

    So yes, absolutely let’s have a poll of Iraqis on whether they want our help for another year. Let’s have Iraqis debate whether Iran and the militias or the U.S. really have their best interests at heart. And let’s have the result be binding on both Presidential candidates.

  38. Dear Ms. Love: Your Iraq post has certainly stirred up things. I’d like to address a subsidiary question, viz: the Vietnam war was needlessly lost, when the Democratic Congress cut off money. I hold that if Congress had continued funding, it would have been a disaster for the United States in the not-very-long term. The United States lost this war. It’s a hard, bitter truth. Because we lost, many evil consequences followed. Tens of thousands of people in Vietnam and Cambodia died because of this defeat. (almost surely this figure is wrong, but if so, it isn’t wrong on the high side. No.) Yet this outcome, however bitter, is preferable to holding on. Let me try to demonstrate why:

    OK, it’s 1975. The GOP in Congress has taken a hell of a beating, losing 48 seats in the 1974 election. Why did they lose? Watergate was a big factor, but I think Vietnam had something to do with the “throw the GOP bums out” mood. Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger tried and failed to get Congress to keep the money flowing. Let’s wave the magic wand and give them the capacity to persuade Congress. Remember, this means “air and logistical support” is still in American hands. What does this mean? It means that sooner or later, American servicemen will die a) by being shot down, or worse captured or b) by being attacked on the ground. After the joyous homecoming of the POWs in 1973, this slow resumption would have been a bitter pill for the American public to swallow. A nation with whom we are officially at peace (see the 1973 Paris treaty) would be killing and capturing our servicement. Grotesque. Two choices a) get back in with ground forces and get the job done or b) get out completely, just as happened in our timeline in 1975. I do not think anyone would make the case that the South Vietnamese were capable of conducting the war entirely with their own means, even if the US paid all the bills and supplied all the equipment.

    What happens in 1976. Ford lost narrowly to Jimmy Carter. I can’t see how an American presence in Vietnam, complete with casualties and POWs would have helped him. Assume it didn’t and Jimmy Carter marches in as he did on 20 January 1977. Who can doubt that he would have turned tail and ran? The man who amnestied all draft dodgers of Vietnam on 20 January would have had no problem following George McGovern’s 1972 comment of going to Hanoi “on his knees if necessary” to end the war. Unless you would argue that South Vietnam would have turned it around to stand completely on its own feet by 20 January 1977, I think Vietnam would have continued to poison American political discourse.

    OK, turn the clock back to 1976. Wave the magic wand again. Ford not only manages to persuade Congress to keep the money flowing, but wins the 1976 election. What happens next? The second OPEC oil embargo would have happened. All during his term, Ford would have had Vietnam bleeding him. Certainly the press would not have let it go. So what happens in 1980? If Ford had run again in 1980, he would have been slaughtered. OK, turn the clock back: Ford decides he’s had enough and says, let someone else try. Reagan gets the nomination. But instead of having to run against Jimmy Carter and His Four Years of Screwups, he has to defend the Nixon-Ford 1968-1980 record. Lincoln and Washington combined could not have won the election. So: Ronald Reagan never becomes President. Still think staying in Vietnam, however you plot Vietnam’s survival, is worth the price? I don’t. A Vietnamese could reproach me for dishonoring a commitment. I’d have to accept this reproach. The price of losing was high. But the price of staying in was even higher. Consider this: Reagan is widely given credit for winning the Cold War. I think he was the right man at the right time. Staying in Vietnam would have ensured that there never would have been a “right time” for Reagan. But even if you wave the magic wand at 3000 RPM, and get Reagan elected in 1980 (though how you’d bring in a Republican Senate if we were still in Vietnam is beyond even the magic wand’s power I think.) One other condition of the “right time” is that the United States was no longer distracted by Vietnam. No men, no money, no commitment there, and Caspar Weinberger is starting his great effort to rebuild the American armed services. He didn’t do it by himself, but not having Vietnam bleeding him was a huge help. What’s one final advantage Reagan had at this “right time”? This: he was not distracted by Vietnam. But Leonid Brezhnev was distracted by the Soviet Union’s Vietnam: Afghanistan. This bled the Soviet Union in ways we still don’t completely understand, and helped weaken it enough to have trouble facing down Reagan.

    Sum up: I think the American defeat in Vietnam was bitter with Americans paying a price, and the Vietnamese a ferociously high price. But trying to stay in and salvage it would have had catastrophic costs, with Reagan’s exclusion from the Presidency being just one cost that the nation would have had to pay. i deplore the “we coulda won” revisionist history. It attributes too much power to the press and the left in this country, and does not bring any deeper understanding of the awful price national interest can exact.

    Final statement: wave the magic wand at 6000 RPM at Ronald Reagan on the evening of 20 January 1981. Send him back in time to 20 January 1961. What advice would he have given Kennedy about Vietnam? Get in deep, fast, win nownownow? Or get out, accept the likely Communist takeover, hoping that it would not hve been as bloodthirsty as it became? Another awful choice to make.

    I know I can’t “prove” this thesis, but I hope it is persuasive or at least stimulates thought. Many thanks for the time and space. For the record I am a Republican, strong backer of staying in Iraq and fighting radical Islam, and will voet for McCain this fall.

    Sincerely yours,
    Gregory Koster

  39. Georgory Koster,

    Tens of thousands of people in Vietnam and Cambodia died because of this defeat.

    The low end estimate for deaths in Vietnam is 165,000. The number of deaths under the Khmer rouge was 1.5-2 million out of a population of 7 million. The vietnamese figures do not count the tens of thousands who died escaping Vietnam as the Boat people.

    We won Vietnam but then through it away. South Vietnam feel to a massive external invasion not to a popular uprising. South Vietnam could have fended off the invasion with American material support and air support just has they had a year and half before. That is tragedy.

    Would winning Vietnam have prevented the election of Reagan? I doubt it. Carter won because of Watergate. Not suffering the humiliation of Vietnam might have helped the democrats in 1980 but Reagan won due to a widespread rebellion against an overbearing, elitist and ineffective state.

    It’s important to remember that our abandonment of Indochina permanently damaged our national security. Every major crisis since then, the rise of terrorism, the first
    Gulf war, Somali, Kosovo, 9/11 and other lesser events occurred due to the widespread perception that we would not fight. Our adversaries believed that based on the example of Vietnam, we would not suffer casualties or have the fortitude to wage a long campaign.

    It is very important that we do not repeat the mistake.

  40. Chapman has been a knee-jerk about Iraq for years. Like Obama, he has his position and he’s stickin’ to it…regardless of the truth on the ground. It’s so painful when fact and truth get confused, and Chapman has been guilty of this for years on this subject. What are you gonna do? Some people are just small picture folks.

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