If you wanted proof that the Iraqi/US government is not the least interested in “democracy,” the recent approval of continued American military presence by the Iraqi government is proof positive. This decision can only mean trouble for American troops as well as American contractors, and further delegitimizes an already shaky government in the eyes of its people.
Since the invasion polls have been conducted regarding Iraqi opinions of the US presence and the job the US military is doing in that war-torn region. Despite recent improvements in Iraqi attitudes toward American forces, the majority of Iraqis would much prefer American withdrawal. Depending on the poll, as much as 72% of Iraqis want American troops to withdraw. Around 40% of Iraqis support immediate withdrawal.
On the other hand, the American presence in Iraq has been viewed more positively in the last year. A majority of Iraqis would be satisfied if American troops remained until security issues in the country were resolved. However, over 60% of Iraqis believe that the US presence is making security issues worse, an interesting conundrum. Around 80% have little to no confidence in the US military.
It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis would rather American soldiers went home. Perhaps they want the opportunity to resolve their own, admittedly pressing, social problems.
Of course, what the opinions of the majority are only significant in a self directing democracy. Iraq is nothing of the sort. Iraq is, at best, a plutocratic vassal state with the vestiges of democracy, but none of its substance. And so long as control of Iraq also means access to Iraqi oil, its’ unlikely that the Iraqi/US government is going to turn to democracy any time soon.
Now, Iraqis have learned that democracy is not in the cards for them. Instead, a US vassal government top-heavy with Shi’a influence has demonstrated that it will make decisions without regard to the will of a majority of its people. Polls show that the Shiites view the US occupation most positively. Well, yes! That makes sense. It’s the Shiites who had the most to gain from American machine-gun diplomacy. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
That leaves discontented Sunnis and Kurds gnashing their teeth. In the past year the Sunnis have held the reigns against their more militant factions. The Sunni Awakening, a paper thin policy of detente and bribery, has resulted in marked decrease of violence. But Sunnis view the American presence most negatively. How will they respond to this Status of Forces Agreement? Some experts are predicting an increase in violence–a prediction that looks valid after recent suicide bombings.
Hopefully the Sunnis and Kurds will continue to curb their more violent elements in hopes that President Obama will make good his promise to withdraw US soldiers by 2010.
It is crucial that US troops withdraw from a sovereign nation. Democracy is not born under gun-scopes. Democracy is the result of the people of a nation getting together to resolve their problems. The possibility of social instability does not justify militarism. If democracy is the real goal, then we must allow the people of Iraq the opportunity to resolve their own issues free of a menacing foreign presence.