I first raised the issue of the Iraqi Diaspora in posts here and here. Last weekend, an outstanding article covering the Iraqi refugee crisis and entitled The Flight from Iraq appeared in the New York Times written by Nir Rosen. I've reproduced additional excerpts from Rosen's article below:
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."
As I've said before, the Bush administration is doing everything it can to ignore and suppress coverage of the Iraqi refugee crisis. The reason is that if the American people understood the full magnitude of the catastrophe the already dwindling support for our intervention in Iraq could erode still further. In keeping with this strategy, neocons are attempting to make the absurd argument that the Iraqi refugee crisis has absolutely nothing to do with our invasion of Iraq:
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."
Not only are we completely blameless for the problem, but the morally bankrupt neocons also claim that we should not assist the Iraqi refugees in any way:
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."
We see clear evidence that our government is determined to deny the existence of Iraqi refugees by it's refusal to accept more than a handful of Iraqi refugees into this country. Since 2003, we've taken in only about 700 Iraqi refugees. In the first four months of 2007, we have accepted only 69 which is a reduction from 2006.
Incredibly, Bush administration officials seek to pin the blame for the Iraqi Diaspora on a dead man...that's right: Saddam Hussein.
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.
Now I've heard it all. Not only are we blameless for the Iraqi Diaspora but the real culprit behind it all is Saddam Hussein! You can't make this stuff up folks!
Barbara Bodine, a longtime U.S. diplomat in the region who was brought in to be the temporary "mayor" of Baghdad in 2003, hits the nail on the head for us:
"When you affirm you have refugees and I.D.P.'s" -- internally displaced persons -- "you are admitting that the average Iraqi has little or no expectation that Bush's surge can reverse a security situation that has spun utterly out of control. This is not a loss of faith in Iraq, per se, but in the current governments of Iraq and Washington."
In other words, denying the reality of the Iraqi Diaspora is all about escaping responsibility for our actions in the Middle East. Pretend the problem doesn't exist, and in the George W Bush alternate reality, it doesn't exist. It's that simple.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!