"Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's cabinet is submitting a draft law to parliament asking it to authorize and fund a referendum on the bilateral agreement that regulates the presence of U.S. troops, the government announced.
The referendum would be held during January's national election.
U.S. officials have quietly lobbied the Iraqi government to suspend plans to hold the referendum, because they're all but certain voters would annul the agreement.
If that were to happen, U.S. troops would have one year to depart, moving up their targeted December 2011 withdrawal date by almost a year.
A simple majority opposed to the agreement would be enough to annul it, according to the cabinet's draft law, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.
When the security agreement was negotiated last year, some lawmakers demanded that its implementation on Jan. 1 be followed by a referendum. The referendum was supposed to happen in July, but the government took no action, leading American officials to believe it would never happen. " Londono
It is amazing how much we persist in not understanding the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Palestinians, the Israelis, etc.
As a nation, we Americans are so committed to the idea of the essential sameness of people that this phenomenon, that of our own "cluelessness," arises time after time to bite us in the arse.
A year or so ago I was at an alumni event at my BAM (beloved alma mater) and at the obligatory dinner was seated with some nice people. Among them was a classmate who offered the opinion that he had learned that "people are pretty much the same everywhere." This fellow had lived in various places, had served in SE Asia and he still believed this to be true. This event occurred in 2006, the absolute nadir of our experience in Iraq. He was looking at me as he said it and it was clear that what he was really saying was that people like me who have a bizarre interest in the un-sameness of people are just useless. People around the table understood the challenge perfectly well and sat looking at me, waiting. I ignored him. He said, "well?" So, I said that sadly he was wrong about this. He told me that I would see the truth in the outcome in Iraq.
OK. Now, I see the truth.
If there is such a referendum, the SOFA will be annulled and we will leave a year early. We won't? Just wait and see. We will leave because we will have no choice and all the oil in the world won't make the slightest difference in that process.
The Iraqis are a badly divided group of peoples, but not so badly divided that they will not vote to get us out of their country as soon as possible.
Why? Because their ways and our ways are too incompatible for them to tolerate us any longer than they must. Could we have softened this attitude toward us? Yes, but that would have required that we actually respect their ways, which we never did. pl