In Wednesday’s Washington Post, reporter Amit Paley reveals what the Iraqi people want from their sovereign state: “A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.”

The State Department poll shows that 65 percent of Baghdad residents favor an immediate pullout. And polling by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland indicates that 71 percent of Iraqis want U.S. led forces out within a year. Even 57 percent of Sunni Muslims – who might fear reprisals from a Shiite majority – favor a U.S. withdrawal within 6 months.

According to the State Department report titled Iraq Civil War Fears Remain High in Sunni and Mixed Areas: “Majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas state that the Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) should withdraw immediately, adding that the MNF-I’s departure would make them feel safer and decrease violence.”

If we truly believe in democracy in Iraq and it is now clear that the Iraqi people want us to leave, why not allow the country’s citizens to vote on the issue? Perhaps a simple ballot proposition: “Should U.S. troops remain in Iraq or leave within a year?” – with a stay or leave option.

The new polling refutes the notion dominating today’s Washington Post op-ed page – and its editorials every week–that we have the right to stay in Iraq as an occupying force.