Andrew J. Bacevich has an essay in the (otherwise usually reasonable) Christian Science Monitor arguing that we should let in massive numbers of Iraqi refugees: What America owes the Iraqis: Offering sanctuary is a good start.
Americans, wrote Robert Kagan and William Kristol in September 2004, "have a profound moral obligation to the Iraqi people." In this one instance, the two well-known neoconservatives got it exactly right. Today we confront the question of how best to acquit that obligation.
The correct response to all radical neoconservative claims: Figure out which false assumptions and errors in logic they used to get to their conclusions.
Bacevich assumes we have moral obligations to people who are very hostile toward us. Never mind that our attempts at help elicit mostly roadside bombs and sniper attacks.
How, if at all, can the US discharge its obligations not only to the people of Iraq but to our own soldiers as well?
Which people of Iraq does Bacevich speak of? The Sunnis who overwhelmingly believe that Sunnis should rule over Shias? Or the Shia majority who overwhelmingly believe that the Shias should rule over the Sunnis? And among the Shias do we have more obligations to? The Shias who follow Muslim cleric Sadr or those who follow the religious party SCIRI?
Perhaps Bacevich imagines there are massive volunteer Iraqi Freedom Brigades fighting to protect the religious rights of Christians and for the equality of women. How else can one conclude that there is a group in Iraq who we both owe something to and who would make good American citizens?
At various times, the Bush administration has described US strategy in Iraq this way: As they stand up, we will stand down. At present, a more apt formulation is this one: As we depart, they can come along. To Iraqis seeking to escape the brutality and chaos that we have helped create, the "golden door" into the New World should open. Call it Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
If freedom was important to Iraqis (i.e. if their moral code was similar to ours) then the Iraqis could conduct their own Operation Iraqi Freedom by taking up arms en masse to hunt down and kill the tribal and religious and criminal factions that are fighting for power in Iraq. But freedom does not move the Iraqi people to make sacrifices on the field of battle. No, they are motivated by their conflicting interpretations of the Koran and their family ties from the practice of consanguineous marriage. They are motivated by their desire to make each other submit to their will. Islam gives them the model of submission as core to all human relations and this idea is not compatible with Western freedoms.
Bacevich must really hate his fellow Americans.
How many Iraqis will accept this invitation is impossible to say. In all probability, they will number in the millions.
How lunatic. If millions of Iraqis are sufficiently ardent lovers of freedom that they are compatible with American society then why aren't they all out there in millions on the streets of Baghdad hunting down and killing the religious and tribal militias? If millions of Iraqis were ardent lovers of freedom then the forces of theocratic repression and tribal score settling wouldn't stand a chance and the civil war in Iraq would already be over. But the reality is that freedom-lovers are scarce on the ground in Iraq because the Iraqis have hierarchies of values that are radically different than our own.
The current Muslim population in the U.S. is about three million. So Bacevich is talking about, at the least, instantly doubling or tripling the U.S. Muslim population. To say, as Bacevich does, that the moral response to the ruin of Iraq is to ruin America is insane. Even if the Iraq mess were all our fault, we cannot as a matter of our national safety and survival afford to take these people in. We must not take them in. We must either find other homes for them in the Mideast, or lead a plan to partition Iraq so that the respective groups can live without violence, as Randall Parker has urged.
Yes, I agree with that Randall Parker guy who argues that we should partition Iraq so that at least each religious group does not have to live under the majority rule of another religious group. Though if the Iraqis insist on war between their partition zones I say let them fight their war and get American troops out of their way.
Time to start thinking about how the United States will withdraw from Iraq. Iraqi employees of US companies, US agencies, and the US military want to leave Iraq when the US pulls out.
BAGHDAD -- With pressure building in Washington for an American troop pullout, Iraqis who have worked closely with U.S. companies and military forces are begging their employers for assurances that they will be able to leave with them.
"They must take care of the people who worked with the Americans," said Hayder, an Iraqi who has worked for several U.S. companies since coalition forces entered Iraq.
"I work with them, I support them, I protect them. They must give us something," he said as he sipped tea in a small cafe in the fortified Green Zone.
Like most Iraqis working with the Americans, Hayder insisted that his full name not be published. Those known to cooperate with U.S. forces and companies are regularly targeted, threatened and killed by both Sunni and Shi'ite extremists.
My simple but correct advice: No, do not bring these people to America. Keep Islam out of the United States.
I wonder if the US could make a deal with the Kurds to take in the Iraqi Arabs who currently work for the US. Kurdistan would be a safer place for them if the Kurdistan government would accept them. Another possibility is Jordan. The US could offer to pay cash for Jordan to take some Sunni Iraqi refugees. The Jordanians wouldn't want the Shias. For the Shias Iran might be an option.
What I want to know: Will the US even try to maintain an embassy in Baghdad when the US Congress finally forces the US military to start withdrawal? Will enough US forces remain to protect the Green Zone? I do not see how that could work. I'm expecting that supplying those forces will become extremely difficult. Absent a larger US force the drive of convoys from Kuwait to Baghdad will become too dangerous.
What I also want to know: Will Congressional Republicans shift against the war in the fall of 2007? Once the surge has clearly failed the Republicans have got to start thinking about their own political survival. How to avoid voter wrath in November 2008?
The Congressional Republicans need to break with Bush on Iraq and on immigration if they want to get reelected.
As they leave Iraq at a rate of nearly 3,000 a day, the refugees are threatening the social and economic fabric of both Jordan and Syria. In Jordan, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are trying to blend into a country of only 6 million inhabitants, including about 1.5 million registered Palestinian refugees. The governments classify most of the Iraqis as visitors, not refugees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated in a report released last month that more than 1.6 million Iraqis have left since March 2003, nearly 7 percent of the population. Jordanian security officials say more than 750,000 are in and around Amman, a city of 2.5 million. Syrian officials estimate that up to one million have gone to the suburbs of Damascus, a city of three million. An additional 150,000 have landed in Cairo. Every month, 100,000 more join them in Syria and Jordan, the report said.
In a report released this week, Refugees International, a Washington-based advocacy group, put the total at close to two million and called their flight “the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world.”
The initial wave of Iraqis was more upper class and Sunni. But lower class and Shia Iraqis came more as the civil war in Iraq intensified.
Curiously, Kuwait does not show up as a destination for the refugees. Are the Kuwaitis especially vigorous about catching and deporting Iraqis? Syria is getting 60,000 a month while Jordan is getting only half that number. But proportionate to their population sizes the impact is much greater for Jordan. Jordan has 5.9 million people whereas Syria has 18.9 million or more than 3 times as many.
The government of Jordan is focusing its deportation efforts on catching Shias.
Partly as a result of such strife, refugees here claim, there is a growing sectarian dimension to the official crackdown. They say the authorities of this officially Sunni country have paid more attention to deporting Iraqi Shiites, fearing that their militias are trying to organize here.
No mention of Kurdish refugees. My guess is they are all fleeing the Arab areas of Iraq to Kurdistan.
Californians can appreciate this. The huge influx of people has tripled real estate prices in Amman Jordan.
The average price of a three-bedroom apartment in upscale West Amman has risen to up to $150,000 from about $50,000. Apartments that once rented for $400 now rent for $1,200, pricing out the average Jordanian, who earns between $500 and $750 per month.
So the war is impovershing lots of Jordanians. But is it causing a housing boom?
You know how Muslims apologists try to argue that Islam tolerates believers in other religions? Shiites in Jordan are not allowed to create prayer halls in overwhelmingly Sunni Jordan.
Many refugees say the crackdown has focused attention on Shiites, even as the government has hunted down Al Qaeda. Even before this, Shiite prayer halls, known as Husseiniyas, were strictly banned here.
Muslims do not like religious freedom.
"Their leader [the Pope] has verbally abused and offended our religion and the Prophet. Unfortunately, he did not analyse the consequences of his speech. Our country is an Islamic land and they [Christians] will have to rely on the Pope's charity from now on," said Abu Jaffar, an Islamic extremist from Muhammad's Army, a Sunni insurgent group.
Carlo and her family have lost three of their relatives over the past two weeks and she received a threat on Monday.
Probably the only section of Iraq where Iraqi Christians have a chance is in Kurdistan. But I'm guessing ultimately the US government will exit Iraq in a way that shafts the Kurds. That'll make life even worse for Iraqi Christians in Kurdistan.
Up to a dozen centres of Catholic life and worship, including a seminary, a monastery, several religious houses and at least five churches have been closed in Baghdad's Al Dora district, known as 'The Vatican of Iraq'.
About two-thirds of the 900 Christian families living there have been forced to leave as a result of Sunni militants taking control of the district and carrying out ethnic cleansing along strict religious lines.
Estimates of the resulting Christian exodus vary from the tens of thousands to more than 100,000, with most heading for Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
The number of Christians who remain is also uncertain. The last Iraqi census, in 1987, counted 1.4 million Christians, but many left during the 1990’s when sanctions squeezed the country. Yonadam Kanna, the lone Christian member of the Iraqi Parliament, estimated the current Christian population at roughly 800,000, or about 3 percent of the population. A Chaldean Catholic auxiliary bishop, Andreos Abouna, told a British charity over the summer that there were just 600,000 Christians left, according to the Catholic News Service.
At the Church of the Virgin Mary, Father Khossaba showed a visitor the baptism forms for parishioners leaving the country who need proof of their religious affiliation for visas. Some weeks he has filled out 50 of the forms, he said, and some weeks more.
A town in the Kurdish zone is considered to be one of the safer places of refuge for Christians fleeing Arab cities in Iraq.
About a thousand Christian families, from Mosul, Baghdad, Basra and elsewhere, have taken refuge in Ain Kawa, a small town outside the Kurdish city of Erbil, which has become an oasis for Christians, said the Rev. Yusuf Sabri, a priest at St. Joseph’s Chaldean Catholic Church there.
The US ought to set up a Christian safe zone in Iraq and help the Iraqi Christians to move to it. The safe zone probably ought to be in Kurdistan.
Christian members of Iraq’s Kurdistan province parliament are calling for autonomy for Christian areas in the north of the country, according to the London-based daily Al-Hayyat.
It is a democratic necessity that areas inhabited by a Christian majority should be autonomous, MP Kalawiz Ilda said.
Conditions for Iraqi Christians in Jordan are poor. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has documented the Assyrian Christians' plight in Jordan as among the worst in the country: Refugees can't work, get educated or receive any other public benefit.
"Iraqi forced migrants have created inside Jordan a group of deprived, invisible migrants," the 2002 reports states. "And the country is unwilling to target any international aid for Iraq refugees," adding that, "they probably fear a relief program would improve the migrants' social condition, attracting other Iraqis."
Jordan, acting against the policy of the United Nations, "offers Iraqis no potential for long-term residency, forbids them to work and returns some back to Iraq, against their will."
Some Christian Iraqis in Jordan have been trying to get into the US for months and even years. I say we deport non-citizen Muslims from the US and let in Iraqi Christians in their place.
Other ethnic and minority groups in the region often have militias to protect them from attacks, but the Christians are known to be exposed to attacks freely, reports the Barnabas Fund.
Sadly, the plight of Iraq's Christians is not an isolated one in the Middle East. Iran's population has nearly doubled since the 1979 revolution, but, under a hostile regime, the number of Christians in the country has fallen from roughly 300,000 to 100,000. In 1948, Christians accounted for roughly 20 percent of the population of what was then Palestine; now, they are about 1.6 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
In Egypt, emigration among Coptic Christians is disproportionately high; many convert to Islam under pressure, and over the last few years, violence against the Christian community has taken many lives. Saudi Arabia's Wahabbi regime prohibits any form of Christian worship.
Curiously, the best destination for Iraqi Christians in the Middle East appears to be Syria. You know Syria. It is one of the other Middle Eastern countries which the neocons want to invade supposedly for Israel's benefit (though I suspect the Israelis realize that Assad's regime is the preferred lesser evil). Of course, if the US did invade that'd ruin the lives of Syrian and Iraqi Christians in Syria and many Christians in Syria would get killed when Muslim fundamentalists ceased to be restrained by the Assad family dictatorship.
Why should US soldiers get killed by Shias and Sunnis when the US soldiers are trying to protect Shias and Sunnis from each other? Why should the US help keep in power an Iraqi government whose militias kill Christians?
"The increase is largely due to 650,000 more Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan and Syria," said USCRI's president, Lavinia Limon. "Although some Iraqis may be fleeing generalised violence, individuals and groups are targeted on the basis of political affiliation, professions, ethnic, or religious differences -- the definition of a refugee."
Moreover, she said that protections for fleeing Iraqis appear to be deteriorating, as Syria has begun to require residency permits, forcing many refugees to live underground, while Jordan has failed to so far to grant refugee status to Iraqis and is turning many back at the border.
WASHINGTON -- More than 650,000 Iraqis fled their homeland for Jordan and Syria since the beginning of 2005, according to a refugee survey released on Wednesday.The violence has forced over 40 percent of Iraqi professionals to leave, according to the survey, published by the Washington-based U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
The figure, provided by the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nongovernmental group based in Washington, is equal to about 2.5 percent of Iraq's population, and substantiates the overwhelming evidence of an exodus that has been accumulating in Iraqi passport offices and airline waiting rooms in recent months.
It was part of a survey of refugees around the world that was conducted by the committee and was scheduled for release on Wednesday. The number includes Iraqis who have been in Syria and Jordan since the invasion in 2003 but had not previously been counted as refugees, and those who arrived over the course of 2005.
The committee has counted Iraqi refugees in the past, but the most recent figure is by far the largest to date — more than triple the 213,000 recorded in 2004 — and the first big surge since the American invasion. At first, Iraqis living abroad began returning home. But as the war became increasingly deadly, more Iraqis chose to leave.
In all, as of the end of 2005, 889,000 Iraqis have moved abroad as refugees since 2003, according to the group's tally, more than double the 366,000 counted at the end of 2004.
Keep in mind that not everyone who wants to leave can leave. Probably far more want to leave than can manage to do so.
So hundreds of thousands are leaving per year. But with Jordan and Syria making it tough perhaps the outflux will slow.
Residents of the city of Ramadi are fleeing to escape a worsening security situation as the United States military steps up operations against insurgents there.
People in Ramadi, capital of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, estimate that about 70 per cent of the city’s population have fled in the last week, many of them holding white flags for fear of being shot at by Marine snipers.
Residents reported that US troops blasted messages through loudspeakers on June 13, telling them to leave and warning of house-to-house searches for weapons and militants.
The ongoing violence between US Marines and the insurgents, air strikes, and outages in the water, electricity and phone networks have already made life untenable. Ramadi residents say US troops regularly take over houses to fight the insurgents, and combatants on both sides have been seen using rooftops as sniper positions.
Bush and the neocons want to spread democracy to the Middle East. Well, the Iraqis are voting with their feet. They are voting for authoritarian governments that maintain order.
Since the war ended 18 months ago, at least 28 university teachers and administrators have been killed, while 13 professors were kidnapped and released on payments of ransom, according to the Association of University Lecturers. Many others have received death threats.
Look at how well neoconservative strategy is working. US intervention in Iraq has catalyzed changes that are helping to modernize Syria. Somehow, though, I do not these are the kinds of changes the neocons envisioned.
Neighboring Syria, for example, is opening a science and technology university this month, with 70 percent of the teaching staff made up of Iraqi exiles.
BAGHDAD — Islamist extremists are targeting the city's universities by threatening and even attacking female students who wear Western-style fashions, setting off bombs on campuses and demanding that classes be segregated by sex.
At least 1,000 of an estimated 3,000 women who want to postpone their studies for fear of violence will be granted leaves of absence, a student affairs official here said.
The neocons do not appear to be as good at social engineering as the communists were. Look at how well the Soviet system used terror to suppress Islam. By contrast, those naive bumbling social engineers in the Bush Administration who claim their strategy is to spread democracy in the Middle East obviously are being outbid in the terror department. The Islamists do not shrink from using the force necessary to produce the kind of society they desire.
The neocons subscribe to a universalist fantasy about human nature where the bulk of the world's population yearn to become Western liberal democrats. The evidence of reality continues to indicate that the neocons are dangerously wrong.
Christians were much safer under Saddam. Christians are now terrorized by the Islamists.
BAGHDAD — Predawn explosions yesterday ripped through five empty Christian churches in the Iraqi capital, which by nightfall also was the scene of the crashes of two U.S. helicopters, which killed two soldiers and wounded two others.
Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein. The church bombings, while claiming no casualties, appeared calculated to intimidate the remaining believers, estimated to number about 800,000.
Jerry Dykstra from Open Door USA said continued bombings and violence in Iraq have scared believers: “Many Iraqi Christians are not going to church (and) they’re not going out of their homes because of all the violence that is going on.” He also pointed out that many Christians are going to Syria or Jordan so that they can attend a church service without fear.
If the neocons managed to get America to invade Syria for Israel's benefit then the Christians in Syria will have to flee yet again. So will the intellectuals. The Iraqis might be better off fleeing to Jordan.
Pascale Isho Warda, a Christian who is the interim government's minister for displacement and migration, estimated as many as 15,000 out of Iraq's nearly 1 million Christians have left the country since August, when four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were blown up in a coordinated series of car bombings.
We have made Iraq a safe place for intellectuals, women, and Christians to flee from. All these people can now finally safely live in another country if they can only manage to get out alive.
Assyrian Christian Ken Joseph Jr., director of AssyrianChristians.com, reports that Iraqi Assyrian Christians are trying to escape in the face of mounting intimidiation and attacks from Iraqi Muslims.
"We thought the Americans were going to bring us freedom and democracy," said 31-year-old Robert. "Instead, they are promoting Islam. We do not understand it. ... We love the Americans! We are so grateful for them removing Saddam and giving us back our freedom. We do not want their effort to be a failure if the dictatorship of Saddam is replaced by the dictatorship of Islam."
The US-controlled radio station is broadcasting Muslim shows several times a day but no Christian shows. The Assyrians see the US policy in Iraq as one of appeasement of Muslims at the expense of native local Christians.
"We are having to take care of daily cases of harassment of Assyrians by Muslims," says one priest. "I just got back form helping one of our parishioners who was falsely accused by a neighbor and was about to be arrested. I had to go and sort it all out. ... Our women are accosted on the street and intimidated to start dressing according to Islamic tradition, our businesses are being burned, and the constant harassment is because of the attitude of appeasement toward Muslims."
This is the triumph of neoconservative folly. Let me add Assyrians to the Kurds for my list of groups that I expect the United States will eventually shaft as it hands power to the Iraqi Shia Arabs. But the Bush Administration will go through the necessary act of at least internally admitting to the scale of their error. If they can't admit they have made huge mistakes then they can't scale back their aims far enough to at least protect some groups in Iraq that we ought to see as in our interest and as our moral obligation to protect. We forced them into this precarious position. Shouldn't we break them off into a separate territory or two that we will help to protect them in from the Arabs?
If a couple of million Christian flee Iraq I doubt that the neoconservatives will admit any mistakes. They will find some other group to blame. Their theoretical vision is pure and couldn't possibly be mistaken.
I've previously made the argument for partition and relayed reports of US officers critical of official strategy. There are lots of factors working against us in Iraq. We ignore the depth of the problem at the peril of the Kurds, Assyrians, and our own national interest.