Dear President Bush:
\"Are we like the God of the Old Testament that we can decide, in Washington, D.C., what cities, what towns, what hamlets in Vietnam [Iraq] are going to be destroyed ... Do we have to accept that ... I do not think we have to. I think we can do something about it.\"
Robert F Kennedy
Are we like the God of the Old Testament that we can decide in Washington, DC, what a sovereign country must do Do the Iraqi people have to accept our dictates If sovereign, certainly not! We would not comply if roles were reversed. I think they can do something about it as they determine.
The United States, asserts President Bush, has created and is supporting a nascent democracy in Iraq. Is this only pretense
The election of the current Iraqi government is acknowledged as validating evidence that the democratic process is functioning. Yet, contrary to fundamental US ideals, the most basic freedom of the sovereign Iraqi people has been usurped...the right to democratically determine their own destiny. While professing the right to liberty, it is shameful, arrogant and hypocritical for American politicians and statesmen to commandeer the policymaking decision process...the process destined to determine Iraq\"s future. Because we have \"broken\" Iraq, does not give us the right to fix it. We do not \"own\" Iraq. The Iraqi people do, and only they have that right. Whether the fix includes the US or not, must be their decision. So it should be for a free sovereign people.
Issues debated in the US that should be decided by the Iraqi people include:
1. Continuation of US and coalition military presence in Iraq
2. Withdrawal of US and coalition military presence in Iraq
3. Governance of Iraq
4. Partition of Iraq
Therefore, to affirm our belief in the democratic process and a people\'s right to shape their own future, we propose that the United States (in conjunction with its Coalition Partners and the United Nations) request the Iraqi government to hold a referendum whereby the Iraqi people would vote on the issue of the US and Coalition military presence. The referendum, written by the Iraqi government, would give the Iraqi people the means to express whether there would be:
1. Immediate US and Coalition military withdrawal
2. Continuance of US and Coalition military presence with reevaluation by a future referendum if necessary.
If immediate withdrawal is the expressed will of the majority of the Iraqi people, it would occur with their consent and would be an expression of their acceptance of the potential consequences.
If, contrarily, the winning vote is for continuation of the US and Coalition military presence, we would do so based upon the will of the Iraqi people. In so doing, the continuing sacrifices of our soldiers would be given a new depth of meaning and recognition. Additional, the political will of the American people to remain in Iraq would likely be renewed.
Either outcome accompanied by the appropriate response would make evident the US commitment to freedom and self-determination at the most basic and substantial level--a sovereign nation deciding its own approach to its security and future. Our founding fathers risked their security, their lives, in order to attain the right to establish the destiny of a new nation. We should desire no less for the citizens of Iraq.
The expression of the free will of the Iraqi people by democratic referendum would honor the heroism of the courageous soldiers who have fought, been wounded and/or given their lives for Iraq. Our compliance would demonstrate to the communities of the world our commitment to freedom and rejection of hegemonic control in Iraq. The domestic and foreign divisiveness surrounding the issue of \"what to do militarily in Iraq\" would be alleviated, if not, resolved. Acting in accordance with our ideals and applying them in the emerging Iraqi democracy would hopefully improve America\"s image in Iraq and around the world and potentially help heal American domestic discord related to the Iraq war.
Cary J Stegman, MD
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