May 14, 2007

Bush Admin re Iraq refugees: Don't blame us

I just finished reading this NYT Magazine article regarding the issue of Iraq refugees (2 million out of country, 1.9 million still within Iraq). It's a complex issue, as most are. Syria has taken the bulk of refugees (1.2 million), followed by Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey. The United States, to its shame has only allowed in 701 Iraqi refugees to date. The administration reasoning can be found in the words of John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and is echoed by other administration officials.

The U.N. refugee agency meeting in Geneva on April 17 and 18 was the international community’s belated attempt to confront the Iraqi refugee crisis. Jordan’s minister of the interior, Mukhaimar al-Mukhaimar, claimed at the meeting that his country was spending $1 billion a year on Iraqi refugees; Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, claimed his country had spent $160 million in 2006. “It’s the fastest-growing refugee population in the world,” said Kenneth Bacon, president of Refugees International and assistant secretary of defense for public affairs from 1994 to 2001. “It’s a crisis in response to an American action. This is a refugee crisis that we triggered and aren’t doing enough to deal with.

“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.”

[...]

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.”
Unbelievable.

2 comments:

Desert Beacon said...

Could it be that Bolton's arrogance is exceeded only by his abysmal ignorance?

Mojo Rising said...

Bush and his hacks are the biggest pro-life hypocrites to ever exist in this modern era.