Iraqi Referendum: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

Jonah Goldberg does some extreme noodling and decides that a referendum wherein the Iraqi people voted whether Coalition forces should stay or go would be a splendid idea. Kevin Drum likes it the idea and thinks the “Go” side would win easily. I don’t think that’s true since, as bad as the security picture is now, it would get even worse without Coalition troops to train and augment the fledgling Iraqi forces.

Either way, though, it’s a good idea. Goldberg enumerates eleven reasons why a “Stay” vote would be helpful. As to the alternative, “I can think of no more honorable and face-saving way for U.S. forces to exit Iraq than after a vote of this sort.”

Aside from achieving the aims that took us over there in the first place, presumably. But, certainly, the Iraqi people have the right to ask us to leave. We’ve long said we would do so if that was their wish.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The next question would it be a straight up popular vote, an electoral college version such as the constitution vote where 3 provinces could hold veto power (and is that veto for staying or going) or is it province by province where we can stay only in provinces that want us?

    I like the idea also and would love to see it proposed by the Iraqi Parliament.

  2. We should also hold these elections in:

    South Korea

    And the other half dozen countries we have troops.

  3. Boyd says:

    Well, it’s up to the host government (in each of the above cases) to ask us to stay or go. If they want their elected representatives to decide on their own, so be it. If they want to ask their constituents to guide them through a referendum, so be it.

    Nothing new here. This could be done now, as it could have been done any time in the past by the government of any country where we have troops stationed.

    It’s not up to us to dictate how they might go about making such a decision. These suggestions seem a bit presumptuous to me.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Perhaps we should review the arguments pro and con on direct democracy one more time.