Iraq

Some More Bad News About Iraq (Refugee Edition)

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Iraq is in the throes of the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since the Palestinian exodus from Israel in 1948, a mass flight out of and within the country that is ravaging basic services and commerce, swamping neighboring nations with nearly 2 million refugees and building intense pressure for emigration to Europe and the United States, according to the United Nations and refugee experts.

That's the opening of a SF Chronicle story by Reason Contributing Editor Carolyn Lochhead. Most of the refugees are heading to Jordan (where Iraqis are now 10 percent of the population) and Syria. Both of those countries are apparently getting a bit crowded these days. The story goes on to quote Kathleen Newland of the Migration Policy Institute about historic American attitudes toward refugees from wars in which the U.S. played key roles:

Despite anti-war sentiment, Newland said, "we have not seen as much of an outpouring of sympathy for the innocent victims of this war from Americans, as we did in the aftermath of that terrible photograph of the little girl on fire with napalm (in Vietnam.) Nothing seems to have quite seized the imagination of the American public about Iraqi civilian victims of war in quite that way. Maybe we're just in the early stages. "

 Read the whole dreary tale of displaced people here.

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  1. The anti-war sentiment has expended to include conservatives not out of sympathy for the poor Iraqis (although I’m sure that’s part of it) but out of perceptions of incompetence by the Bush Administration and the conservative leadership. It’s not viewed as a human rights crisis so much as a waste and a boondoggle.

    The Americans who’ve moved from pro-war to anti-war over the past 2 years aren’t interested in righting American wrongs in the Middle East…they’re interested (as they always were) in preventing terrorism.

    Also, no one in America wants to wind up like Denmark or France with large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees and wondering when they’re going to blow up something or riot over a Dilbert cartoon they didn’t like.

    Rightly or wrongly, America isn’t interested in importing Middle East problems.

  2. “America isn’t interested in importing Middle East problems.”

    On the other hand, when it comes to CREATING Middle East problems….

  3. On the other hand, when it comes to CREATING Middle East problems….

    I’m just passing along observations…didn’t say I liked or agreed with any of them.

  4. Bring the troops home and watch the fallout on Al Jazeera. Bush fucked up. You don’t get a mulligan after starting an ill considered war. We’ve lost, admit it, get over it, and try to avoid similar screwups in the future. The refugees will, I’m certain, be treated with the same care and concern by their Arab, Islamic brethren. Just like the Palestinians.

    I know, I’m cold, cruel and heartless. But I wouldn’t have invaded Iraq either.

  5. Psssst…

    I heard they find the word “refugee” offensive.

  6. In every crisis there is an opportunity. Back in 2004, the building boom started in Amman. It was in all the trade press: construction trades, engineering. Middle Eastern companies (including that of Bin Laden’s family) were making a fortune building apartments in Jordan and Syria for Iraq’s displaced middle class.

    So my point is that this is nothing new. It was masked before because the people leaving had money and were able to pay their way. But now it’s a matter of fleeing poor people and that’s going to create a lot of suffering and donor fatigue on the part of the local nations.

    It’ll probably be okay to leave the refugee problem to the locals. Groups like Hezbollah and Hamas have a long history of involvement in the refugee communities. And nothing breeds a stable, happy population like a refugee camp.

  7. You break it, we buy it.

  8. “Despite anti-war sentiment, Newland said, “we have not seen as much of an outpouring of sympathy for the innocent victims of this war from Americans, as we did in the aftermath of that terrible photograph of the little girl on fire with napalm (in Vietnam.)”

    Terrible crisis. …created by us. Still, I suspect there’s hope that we’ll do better this time than we did for Vietnam’s “boat people”.

    Not that there’s any reason to choose, but I prefer sound, responsible and moral policies to outpourings of sympathy.

  9. …by the way, avoiding this kind of tragedy, avoiding responsibility for this kind of tragedy, that was an excellent reason not to go to war.

    And, no, I’m not saying, “I told you so.” I’m saying, “Don’t make me tell you again.”

  10. So what’s the problem? All we have to do is light an Iraqi girl on fire and take pictures.

  11. So what’s the problem? All we have to do is light an Iraqi girl on fire and take pictures.

    Really, really sick. I like it.

  12. So what’s the problem? All we have to do is light an Iraqi girl on fire and take pictures.

    Yes, but is it live or is it photoshopped?

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