Thursday, January 20, 2005

Iraq: victory though democracy

I am one of those who has strongly support the need to go to war in Iraq. I expected a decision to turn toward the Iraqi theater from December of 2001, and strongly supported the key decisions that led to war in spring of 2003. While I have sometimes been disappointed in the management of postwar Iraqi policy, I have never waivered in my conviction that Iraq was the right war in the right place at the right time.

In the spring of 2004, as people were muttering about "exit strategy", I thought we needed to talk about "victory strategy". My belief was that we needed to do this: to put the decision to keep troops in Iraq before a referendum of the Iraqi people. I was convinced that a majority of Iraqis wanted to keep the Americans in Iraq as a defense against terrorism--and also some of their still-threatening neighbors. But the key point was that a referendum on American troops creates a win-win situation for the United States: if the Iraqis vote to send the troops home, that is a victory for democracy, and Americans can declare a democratic "mission accomplished". If the Iraqis vote to keep the troops--that too would be a devastating blow to terrorism in the Middle East. In either case, the decision to hold a referendum would be a crushing defeat for the forces of terrorism.

Precisely this policy is now being advocated in recent article by the Center for Strategic and Internation Studies.

I am consequently asking blogger--particularly bloggers from Iraq for comment on elections as a policy for deciding the future of American troops in Iraq.


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