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October 13, 2005

Should the U.S. Withdraw? Let the Iraqi People Decide

By Abigail A. Fuller and Neil Wollman

Polls, so far, show Iraqis want the US out

::::::::

Give us three minutes and we can find an op-ed piece in a U.S. newspaper calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, or arguing that they should stay. The arguments are varied and numerous: If the U.S. leaves, anarchy will ensue. Occupation forces are a target for foreign terrorists. Bush should set a timetable for withdrawal. Setting a timetable would embolden those using violence in Iraq. And so on. What is missing from this picture? Any discussion of what the Iraqi people themselves want. The opinions of those most affected by this war count the most. And so a nationwide referendum should be conducted in Iraq on the question of whether U.S. troops should stay or go, in which every Iraqi can vote directly on this question.

What the U.S. public wants is much discussed in the media–nearly every week poll results are announced indicating how many people believe the United States should withdraw all or some troops from Iraq (63 percent, according to the latest USA Today/CNN Gallup Poll) and how many believe the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq (59 percent, from the same poll). As U.S. citizens we certainly have an interest in whether the troops stay. Our tax money funds the U.S. military presence, and our young men and women are being killed and injured there. So our opinions matter.

But what about the Iraqis? There are inherent difficulties in polling in an unstable, war-torn environment. Furthermore, most polls of Iraqi public opinion ask such ambiguous questions as, “Do you think the country is headed in the right direction?”–to which a “yes” answer could mean any number of things, from a belief that the insurgents are defeating the occupation forces and that’s a good thing, to a belief that a democratic government will be established soon in part due to the U.S. presence. Neither is it sufficient to simply allow the Iraqi government to determine whether or not U.S. troops stay: 37 percent of Iraqis, a significant minority, feel that the Iraqi National Assembly does not serve the interests of all Iraqis (International Republican Institute poll, July 2005).

Some polls have asked Iraqis specifically about the presence of U.S. troops, and guess what: they want us to leave. A February poll by the U.S. military, cited by the Brookings Institution, found that 71 percent of Iraqis “oppose the presence of Coalition Forces in Iraq.” This poll was taken only in urban areas, but others have found much the same sentiment. According to a January 2005 poll by Abu Dhabi TV/Zogby International, 82 percent of Sunni Arabs and 69 percent of Shiite Arabs favor the withdrawal of U.S. troops either immediately or after an elected government is in place.

But an opinion poll does not carry the weight of a referendum, in which all Iraqis could clearly and definitively vote on whether or not U.S. troops should remain in their country. This can be done: Kurdish activists organized a referendum on independence during the January national elections in Iraq, which found that over 90 percent of Kurd voters want independence for the region. On October 15 Iraqis vote, in another referendum, on whether to accept a new constitution.

It appears that we as a nation are so self-absorbed that both the hawks and the doves among us have forgotten to ask what those most affected by the war–the Iraqi people themselves--want. Let us remedy this situation by supporting a referendum and then abiding by the results. Let the Iraqi people decide.

Abigail A. Fuller is associate professor of sociology and social work at Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana. Neil Wollman is professor of psychology and senior fellow of the Peace Studies Institute at Manchester College, North Manchester, IN 46962; aafuller@manchester.edu, njwollman@manchester.edu 260-982-5009/5346.

Submitter: Rob Kall

Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect,
connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

Check out his platform at RobKall.com

He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity  

He's given talks and workshops to Fortune
500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered
first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and
Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful
people on his Bottom Up Radio Show,
and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and
opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 



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Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 400 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Or check out my Youtube Channel

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Rob was published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com for several years.



Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.



To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. 

For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. 

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To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.



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