Iraq: just about time to go
The latest terrorist bombings in Iraq came closer than usual to home for Australia, with two soldiers suffering (reportedly) minor injuries in an attack on the Australian embassy, while 20 more innocent Iraqis were killed, adding to the tens of thousands already killed by both/all sides in this terrible war.
It’s pretty clear by now that Iraq has descended into something approaching full-scale civil war and that, as is usually the case in civil wars, the presence of foreign troops is only making things worse. But rather than arguing about this, it might be better to put it to the test. This NYT Op-ed piece by three researchers from the Center for Strategic and International Studies suggests a referendum on US withdrawal to be held soon after the forthcoming elections. They make a pretty good case that it would be hard for the insurgents to justify disrupting such a referendum, or for nationalists like Sadr to justify a boycott.
I expect such a referendum would lead to a majority vote for withdrawal. But a majority the other way would certainly be an improvement on the current situation. The only really bad outcome would be the case where the Kurds voted solidly for keeping US troops, reversing a majority vote the other way among Arab Iraqis.
fn1. Despite this event, Australia has suffered far less direct loss in Iraq than many nations who were far less deeply involved in the decision to go to war.