A reader writes:

Like many people, including yourself, I've been asking myself the question of whether to withdraw from Iraq or stay there until some hoped-for peace is achieved after an indefinite number of more years and deaths.

The other day I met a young Iraqi doctor studying on my Master's degree program. After some conversation about his life and his losses in the war, I described the uncertainty some Americans feel about what the best thing is to do at this point and asked him what he thought.  Until that point he had been very calm and matter-of-fact about describing his experiences, but this question obviously shocked him.  He regained his composure, laughed a little, and said, "you'll excuse me, but I think your question has such an obvious answer."

He proceeded to explain that there was no more need for Americans to fear leaving a vacuum behind; that the opportunity to avert that had passed several years ago, and that Iran had long since filled the vacuum.  Now, he said (to paraphrase), U.S. troops staying in Iraq only prolonged the killing and pain.  As an obstetrician, he likened it to labor pains that would eventually cease, but first the foreign body, as it were, had to leave the host.

Naturally one man's perspective shouldn't be taken as "the answer", but I was struck by how little we hear of the opinions of Iraqis themselves on the matter of whether or not we should continue to occupy their country.  Efforts to illuminate their perspectives, whether through interviews, Iraqi editorials, or references to Iraqi blog posts are conspicuously absent from the discussion I've observed.  Perhaps it's because it seems obvious to some that they'd want us to go, but still I don't see why they would be excluded from the conversation.

While some argue there are greater issues at stake, I'm inclined to agree with my colleague that we may no longer be (if ever we were) able to influence them.

By the way, the Iraqi doctor also felt that Sen. Obama was the candidate most likely to get the U.S. out of Iraq and as such supported his campaign.

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