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Friday, September 14, 2007

Mr. Simpy's Yay-for-War Show

Iraqi child refugees

Last night, in his address to the nation or, as I thought of it, Mr. Simpy's Yay-for-War show, the world was fed a lot of BS. He was in full spin mode, insisting that bad news from Iraq is really good news and that the only way that bad news would come from Iraq would be if we left.

Bush actually cited the assassination of Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha earlier in the day as a sorta-kinda sign of progress and/or a good thing. "In Anbar, the enemy remains active and deadly," he said. "Earlier today, one of the brave tribal sheikhs who helped lead the revolt against al Qaeda was murdered. In response, a fellow Sunni leader declared: 'We are determined to strike back and continue our work.' And as they do, they can count on the continued support of the United States." As if cycles of revenge killings were both a new thing in the middle east and a good thing. Of course they'll strike back -- both now and three or four generations down the road. That's what ya call yer "progress." Although, in the US we'd call that a feud.

One thing that stuck out at me was this warning. "If we were to be driven out of Iraq, extremists of all strains would be emboldened," Bush told us, as if terrorists needed encouragement to be crazy. If we left, "Iraq could face a humanitarian nightmare."

That was my jawdrop moment. Iraq is a humanitarian nightmare. So much so, that it's hard to imagine how things could be worse. According to Refugees International:

The UN estimates that over 4 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence in their country, the vast majority of which have fled since 2003. Over 2.2 million have vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq, 1.5 million are now living in Syria, and over 1 million refugees inhabit Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, and Turkey. Most Iraqis are determined to be resettled to Europe or North America, and few consider return to Iraq an option. With no legal work options in their current host countries, Iraqis are already exploring the use of false documents to migrate to Western nations.

2.2 million internally displaced and 2.5 million have fled the country altogether. You don't see those kind of refugee numbers even after a major natural disaster. Earlier this year, the US State Dept. announced we'd do our part and accept 7,000 refugees -- an embarrassingly small percentage of the problem.

The Guardian:

The Bush administration is to increase the official quota of Iraqi refugees who will be allowed to settle in the United States from 500 to 7,000 over the next year, in a response to the growing refugee crisis in Iraq.

The move follows repeated criticism of the US by humanitarian groups for failing to help more than 3 million Iraqis displaced from their homes since the conflict began.

It turned out that wasn't exactly accurate -- at least, according to State.

US State Department:

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Ellen Sauerbrey told reporters at a Washington briefing March 23 that previous reports about the United States accepting an additional 7,000 Iraqi refugees in the coming months are inaccurate. She said this figure simply reflects the number of U.S. referrals the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) feels it realistically can expect to make in the coming months.

Not to worry, though, the message was that the US may take even more than 7,000. In fact, the sky was the limit. At a press conference, Sauerbrey explained, "[L]et me just kind of clarify what we anticipate in terms of the resettlement program. First of all, we haven't just said we will accept -- there's no cap on the number that the U.S. will accept."

Thing is, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees kind of said the opposite about the program. The number, according to their publication, Refugees Magazine, was fixed. That publication stated flat-out, "The US has just announced it will take 7,000 more Iraqis from the region." Was the US agreement with the UNHCR misunderstood and misreported by even the UNHCR?

Or was Sauerbrey was pushing BS? Despite her claim that 7,000 was "no cap," it's pretty much proven to be no goal, either. Last year we took in 202 refugees, this year we've managed to take a whopping 719. Not only is this a mere 10% of the 7,000 we'd earlier asserted that we wouldn't limit ourselves to, it's such a tiny percentage of the millions of displaced that doing the math involved in figuring the number would be a waste of time. Just call it "nuthin' percent." The US has unilaterally and unceremoniously backed out of the agreement. The Bush administration got their triumphant "7,000!" headlines -- they had no more use for the UNHCR. Or the refugees.

Another thing that jumped out at me from Mr. Simpy's Yay-for-War show was that, if we pulled out of Iraq, "Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region."

See, Iran is already benefitting from the chaos -- although "benefit" isn't the way anyone sane would put it. A huge number of those refugees have fled to Iran and must be stretching their resources. Of course Iran wants us out, because they want all these iraqis out.

And we're doing absolutely nothing to address that humanitarian nightmare in Iraq that's spilling over her borders into Iran, Syria, Egypt, etc. We've created a monumental refugee crisis and have done nearly nothing to alleviate it. And those refugees in Iran and Syria -- do you really think we're all that concerned about the humanitarian crisis we've created in those countries? Like hell -- a lovely little unintended consequence of our war is that it indirectly attacks them with human economic weapons in the form of refugees. We're cool with that.

So cool with it, in fact, that we're not going to do a damned thing about it. Those refugees can just suck it up and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Bush can warn us about humanitarian nightmares all he wants, but he's not doing anything about the one going on now. And he has no plan to. For this president, people don't matter -- they're just numbers. There are grand, worldbuilding games going on and, like all games, they require the sacrifices of a few pawns. American pawns, Iraqi pawns, it doesn't matter. Death tolls and casualty counts are just stats, not lives. No one is real unless they're Republican, rich, and powerful as hell.

Bush gets to warn us about humanitarian nightmares when he gives a good goddam about humanitarianism. Until then, he can choke on those warnings.


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