Yesterday, Atrios offered a blunt-but-accurate assessment of the U.S. presence in Iraq: “When an occupying force is seen by a sufficient number of the people as an unwelcome occupier to be opposed, then there’s no way that occupier can be responsible for creating and maintaining order.”
The NYT’s Nicholas Kristof fleshed this point out in more detail today, noting that about a fifth of Iraqis believes the U.S. troop presence improves security in Iraq, whereas 69% believe our presence is making security worse.
We simply can’t want to be in Iraq more than the Iraqis want us to be there. That poll of Iraqis, conducted by the BBC and other news organizations, found that only 22 percent of Iraqis support the presence of coalition troops in Iraq, down from 32 percent in 2005.
If Iraqis were pleading with us to stay and quell the violence, maybe we would have a moral responsibility to stay. But when Iraqis are begging us to leave, and saying that we are making things worse, then it’s remarkably presumptuous to overrule their wishes and stay indefinitely because, as President Bush termed it in his speech on Tuesday, “it is necessary work.”
As Kevin Drum put it, "Both the American public and the Iraqi public want us to leave Iraq. However, both the American government and the Iraqi government want us to stay. So we're staying. This is called 'democracy promotion.'"