04/10/2007 04:08 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Message in a Bottle" from Iraq

Iraqslogger on Monday posted pictures from the demonstrations in Najaf against the US occupation of Iraq.

Check out the signs written in English:

"Yes, Yes to Independence"

"Union of Iraq Students demand for the speedy withdrawal of occupation forces unconditiolly"

Yes, that last one is not my typo - that's the sign as it appeared.

It's a colorful sign. Some folks went to a lot of trouble to make a sign in a language that they weren't very familiar with.

Some folks at the demonstration were not focused on rallying Iraqis against the occupation. Some folks were focused on getting a message out to people whose native language is English.


You know, like the Police song - "Message in a Bottle." Maybe some journalists will take a picture of our sign, and maybe the picture will go to the U.S., and maybe people in the U.S. will see our sign and get our message that we want the U.S. occupation forces to withdraw.

With so many Bush administration supporters and pundits bashing Congressional Democrats for trying to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, you'd think there would be a little more focus on what Iraqis want.

There is data on this, readily available. In September, for example, the Program on International Policy Attitudes published the results of a survey of Iraqi public opinion:

"A large majority of Iraqis - 71% - say they would like the Iraqi government to ask for U.S.-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less."

Obviously, regardless of the stated purposes of the U.S. invasion, this is a key fact. But one of the claimed purposes of the U.S. invasion was to establish democracy. All the more reason why the apparent desire of Iraqis for the occupation forces to leave should be a central fact in the U.S. debate. The only plausible explanation for treating this key fact as irrelevant would be that the word "democracy" has a meaning for the Bush Administration and its supporters that is very different from the understanding of most Americans and Iraqis.

The bottle has washed ashore and we've fished out and read the little piece of paper. What are we going to do now? One possibility would be to ask our Senators to support the Reid/Feingold bill cutting off funding for the occupation after March, 2008.