If the surge fails in Iraq – and we should know the answer to that question by September – then America has several questions that it must ask before knowing how to proceed to conduct our war on terrorism.
First, are nations with overwhelmingly Islamic populations immune to the benefits of democracy? The idea of democracy is that people, given the choice, will almost never choose war because war means the death of their sons and daughters. The very fact that the war is unpopular in America is backhanded proof of this. It is easy for dictators like Hitler and Stalin and Hussein to send millions of others off to die or to place the lives of millions of innocent civilians in jeopardy, but it is very hard for democratically elected leaders to do this. But perhaps Moslem populations, with suicide bombers and a belief that dying in jihad do not feel that way. We need to know the answer to that question.
Second, if Moslem democracies are as inclined to peacefulness as other democracies, is the presence of non-Moslem forces enough to dilute that power of peacefulness so that the benefits of democracies – the deep desire for peace – is largely lost? Do the Iraqi people really resent American troops, who have behaved with remarkable nobility in this war? If so, then the example of the behavior of American troops, the benevolence of American forces as occupiers, decency appreciated by the Germans and Japanese, is lost. We also need to know the answer to that question.
Third, do the Iraqi people really have faith in the idea of Iraq? Do the Kurds want to be an independent nation, part of a greater Kurdistan, or do they want to be a semi-autonomous region within a nation supported by American help? Do the Sunnis really want to work with the Shia in creating out of a dictatorial empire a working and united Iraq? Do the Shia want to be a client of Iran or to live in an independent nation protected from the odious machinations of the mullahs by American power? We certainly need to know the answer to that.
We cannot answer those questions. Only the people of Iraq can answer those questions. If the surge is deemed a failure, or even if the surge is deemed a success, the American government must insist that the people of Iraq answer those questions. That answer must be in the form of a plebiscite – a direct vote of the people.
Because the government of Iraq, not the United States, now formally governs Iraq, we cannot compel a plebiscite upon the people of Iraq, but we can as a condition of our continued presence and support for the Iraqi government insist that our nation receive either a vote of confidence or a vote of no confidence in the way that we are trying to bring peace, democracy and liberty to their land.
This is a gamble. It is undoubtedly true that many Iraqis do want Americans to leave, or at least are willing to say that they do, but on sober reflection many of these same Iraqis do know that if our military left the bloodshed would not stop and that Iraqi could become a battlefield within the Islamic world, particularly if Iran tried to create a Shia hegemony. These same Iraqi know that the Kurds would leave a nation that was not dominated by the rule of law but by brute force. The government of Iraq, in which a plurality of power rests with the Shia, have stated that it does not want American troops to withdraw yet.
But it is a gamble that must be taken. If the people of Iraq do not want us in there country, then it is vital for America to be protected against the charges which will inevitably be leveled against us in the bloodbath that would follow our departure. If the people of Iraq do want us to remain in their country, a plebiscite that confirmed that fact would defang domestic opposition to the war within America. If the Iraqi people voted confidence our policies in Iraq, then it would be impossible to characterize as presence as an “occupation” or to consider that the Iraqi people had not bought into the dream of a free, peaceful and democratic Iraq. If the people of Iraqi wanted us to stay, then it would be clear that the enemies of those people wanted us to leave. It is gamble, but wars are won by gambles.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and MenÕs News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.