Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Winning hearts and minds

One of the multitude of reasons for the invasion of Iraq was that it would free the Iraqi people from the Earthly Incarnation of Satan Himself, Saddam Hussein. Yet the war is being run, and cheered on, by people who simply do not care about these people, and care only for how to ensure the "victory" of the United States.

So concerning the fact that four million Iraqis have fled their homes--and roughly half of those have left the country entirely--we hear either silence, or the claim that it is not our fault, and hence implicitly not our problem.
"What I find most disturbing," Bacon went on to say, "is that there seems to be no recognition of the problem by the president or top White House officials." But John Bolton, who was undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration, and later ambassador to the United Nations, offers one explanation for this lack of recognition: it is not a crisis, and it was not triggered by American action. The refugees, he said, have "absolutely nothing to do with our overthrow of Saddam.

"Our obligation," he told me this month at his office in the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, "was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don't think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war." Bolton likewise did not share the concerns of Bacon and others that the refugees would become impoverished and serve as a recruiting pool for militant organizations in the future. "I don't buy the argument that Islamic extremism comes from poverty," he said. "Bin Laden is rich." Nor did he think American aid could alleviate potential anger: "Helping the refugees flies in the face of received logic. You don't want to encourage the refugees to stay. You want them to go home. The governments don't want them to stay."

Since 2003, the United States has accepted only 701 Iraqi refugees. In the first four months of 2007, it took in 69 Iraqi refugees, fewer than the number it accepted in the same period in 2006.

The United States is really just beginning to grapple with the question of Iraqi refugees, in part because the flight from Iraq is so entwined with the vexed question of blame. When I read John Bolton's comments to Paula Dobriansky — the undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs — and her colleague Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, they mainly agreed with him. Sauerbrey maintained that "refugees are created by repressive regimes and failed states. The sectarian violence has driven large numbers out. During the Saddam regime, large numbers of Iraqis were displaced, and the U.S. resettled 38,000 Iraqis. We would take 5,000 a year at given points in time. After 2003, there was great hope, and people were returning in large numbers. The sectarian violence after the mosque bombing in February 2006 is what turned things around. The problem is one caused by the repressive regime" of Saddam Hussein. She did add, "We take the responsibility of being a compassionate nation seriously."

We are a compassionate nation--but this is all Saddam's fault. From Hell's heart, he stabs at the Iraqi people.

And on CNN, we have anchorman Rick Sanchez offering two "way[s] to win":
I'm just thinking that is there a way to win? And what is the definition of winning? Mine would be -- I'll share mine with you. Mine would be, A, stop killing them, thereby they'll stop hating you and wanting to kill you, or B, kill them all.

Either one, apparently, equally valid as they both result in us "winning." The rest of the world--and especially the Iraqi people we supposedly went in to liberate--simply does not matter.

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