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The Long, Frustrating Fight to Get an Iraqi Interpreter Out of Baghdad and Into the U.S.

Bringing Bandar Home

He called to say that he'd be murdered if he couldn't get out.

As an interpreter—my interpreter, actually—working for coalition forces in Iraq, Bandar had already lost several friends and colleagues, including his 15- and 10-year-old cousins, to insurgents determined to exact revenge on anyone perceived to be aiding an occupying military force. From 7,000 miles away, he phoned me to ask for help.

When he was a teenager, Bandar reconnected with an uncle who had been an opposition leader against Saddam Hussein's authoritarian regime. After fleeing the country and spending nearly a decade in the United States as a political asylee, his uncle returned to Iraq."When my uncle came back in 2003, he told me all about America, and he supported my plan to work with the U.S. military," Bandar told me.

Bandar had always maintained an idealized vision of the United States, having consumed as a child whatever bootleg American movies and television he could get his hands on. (He believed then, as he does now, that The Tyra Banks Show is America's greatest export.) "I used to always dream that one day when I get older I'll go to America," he said.

In 2004, at age 17, Bandar became an interpreter.

When he called me from the other side of the world, I was a 25-year-old college student, back in Oregon after a yearlong deployment to Iraq as a sergeant in a U.S. Army cavalry unit. I had been stationed at a base 50 miles from Baghdad within the Sunni triangle, just a couple of miles from Bandar's home.

Our mission was to be a Quick Reaction Force for the base. Essentially, we were a 911 for soldiers operating in the surrounding area. On good days, this meant providing convoy security and area patrols. On bad days, it meant responding to unforeseen emergencies and backing up units that found themselves in precarious situations. Whatever the day's agenda, our job required constant talk with Iraqi civilians. We couldn't have done it without help from local translators.

I first met Bandar after he'd joined the rotation of Iraqi interpreters working with our unit. He was 18, and he'd been assigned to join my platoon on patrols of several villages within our area of operations. This was a fraught assignment for Bandar: He'd spent his entire life a couple of miles from the fence line and might easily have been recognized.

Neither the State Department nor their contractors kept close records of the number of local translators employed during the war. Estimates vary widely, but several thousand Iraqis may have been enlisted to aid the American cause. To secure these jobs, Bandar and other interpreters underwent a rigorous security screening, which was repeated every six months.

The interpreters worked with combat and support soldiers, and even in field hospitals. Depending on the situation, they often filled the role of intelligence officer, diplomat, etiquette coach, soldier, or peacekeeper. In a war zone, where misunderstandings can end in bloodshed, they're crucial in keeping both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians safe.

Translators put themselves in extreme danger—arguably more so, and for much longer, than many soldiers. They are "outside the wire" on dangerous patrols, facing the same danger as troops but without weapons to defend themselves. And they must keep their identities secret, for fear of retaliation against themselves or their families.

Of course, the job doesn't last forever. When U.S. forces finally withdrew from Iraq, local contractors were on their own again. This has left many of them in a precarious—and often life-threatening—position. In fact, the U.S. military is still deployed in Iraq, and continues to employ Iraqi contractors.

Early in the occupation, Baathists initiated a whisper campaign to foment distrust and animosity toward translators working with coalition forces. The stigma persists today. "Interpreters are branded forever," Bandar recently wrote to me. "When I go to market or anywhere people keep calling me 'traitor!' Pretty much they call all interpreters the same thing."

Before my unit arrived in 2005, Iraqi contractors were already an established target for violence perpetrated by both Sunni insurgents and Shia death squads. The New York Times reported that in Baghdad alone, 45 interpreters were killed within the first nine months of 2004.

By 2005, murders of Iraqi contractors and translators had become common.

In 2006, Bandar received three separate written threats at the house he shared with his mother. She had found the threatening messages but couldn't read them, so she held them for Bandar until he returned from work. He never told her what they said. Each was a slight variation on the same theme: "Stop working for the infidel and go back to your God. Or face death."

Bandar brought one of the notes to an Air Force officer he'd been working with on base, who passed the information to the intelligence officers. According to Bandar, "They said I [shouldn't] leave the base at least for four months." So he didn't.

'I Don't Have a Place in My Country'

The nonprofit organization Human Rights First estimated in 2009 that 146,000 "U.S.-affiliated Iraqis" have worked to assist the U.S. government, contractors, nongovernmental organizations, and media.

For U.S.-affiliated Iraqis—Bandar and other translators among them—resettlement in the United States is a critical lifeline. It fulfills a promise to important allies and signals to potential future partners that the U.S. will have their backs.

In 2007, The Washington Post reported that Ryan Crocker, then the ambassador to Iraq, was dismayed by the government's inadequate response to the growing refugee crisis in Iraq. "Resettlement takes too long," Crocker said, pointing to "major bottlenecks" in the security review process.

Soon after, Sens. Ted Kennedy (D–Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R*–Ore.), citing Crocker's "plea for help," introduced the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, which was signed into law six months later.

Expanding on the existing Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program—which was capped at 50 total visas per year for Iraqi and Afghan translators—the Act created a parallel SIV program for Iraqis who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government. The new program set aside 5,000 SIVs, and it made U.S.-affiliated Iraqis eligible for consideration for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). But while this widened the pathway for Iraqis looking to escape the violence, the application process remained long and burdensome.

Courtesy Joe CoonCourtesy Joe CoonIn 2007, when I began wading through the process, applicants for SIVs required a letter of support from a general or flag officer. I was able to secure one for Bandar through connections within my former Army unit, but this can be a very heavy lift for soldiers with a lower rank or a smaller network. For former interpreters lacking a plugged-in American sponsor, securing this sort of letter is nearly impossible.

Applications for SIVs were fairly rare in the early years. Human Rights First speculated in a 2009 report that contractors in Iraq were likely unaware of the SIV system, and were instead applying through the much more limited old program due to a lack of access to information or legal counsel. Since then, Congress has passed several bills urging the State Department to streamline the application process and to limit long delays. The purpose, after all, was to fast-track applications and acceptances for allies who'd already undergone repeated screening during the course of their contract jobs.

Congress let the SIV program sunset in 2014, limiting eligibility for visas to those who had submitted applications by the September 30, 2014, deadline. Those who managed to squeeze into the pipeline have faced long wait times, ranging from one to over six years.

Applicants were required to provide an Iraqi police certificate—essentially another background check. And they had to produce evidence that they had been employed by the U.S. government. That can be difficult. Sometimes records have been lost, if they ever existed. The U.S. Army withheld $3 million in payments to Titan Corp., the largest government contractor that employed translators, due to accounting "deficiencies."

As Bandar was struggling to gather the documents for his application, he became so afraid for his life that he felt compelled to flee Baghdad. I was able to send him a few thousand dollars to help him take refuge in the relative safety of Kurdistan. By the time he felt he could return safely, we'd found an immigration attorney willing to work on his case pro bono. They spent the next several months preparing his application.

Bandar would visit internet cafés under cover of darkness to print, sign, and scan documents, terrified that the wrong person might see they were written in English. He slept all day in a friend's small apartment and waited until nightfall to go out again. He lived this way for a year.

"Joey…I don't have a place in my country. And I can't continue like this," he wrote to me in 2008. "I am without freedom now. I cannot move and I cannot do anything."

'A Huge Number of People in the Pipeline'

A Democratic Hill staffer who works on refugee issues told me that the SIV program was allowed to sunset because Congress thought the Direct Access Program, administered through the ordinary refugee system, would be good enough. It's not. It has left tens of thousands of Iraqis who worked with the United States stranded in serious peril.

It also isn't equipped for triage. "There is a huge number of people in the pipeline," the staffer explained to me, "and some of them are in imminent danger and others are not. It's logistically challenging to sort those two groups."

President Donald Trump's recent executive orders have made matters even worse. Six weeks after his first travel ban was blocked by federal courts, Trump signed a revised order suspending visa applicants from six predominantly Muslim countries for at least 90 days, and suspending all refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days.

SIV holders were not specifically targeted, but the latest version of the administration's travel ban suspends, and also drastically reduces, the Direct Access Program.

According to U.S. State Department figures, only 22 visas have been issued to interpreters and their families through the SIV program since 2014 (the year it stopped accepting applications). There are fewer than 700 visas left to be issued. Meanwhile, 61,257 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis are currently in the USRAP pipeline, according to the agency. And Trump's travel ban, if ultimately upheld by the courts, would reduce total refugee admissions by more than half, to only 50,000 in 2017, a number reached on July 12 of this year.

Together with Trump's promise to slash the refugee cap to a historic low—which he can do next year, whether or not his executive order survives Supreme Court scrutiny—the travel ban makes it a virtual certainty that thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives working for and with the United States will be left to twist in the wind.

But lawmakers can step in. Despite the toxic environment surrounding immigration and refugee policy, the SIV program largely enjoys bipartisan support. Congress should reauthorize it, and increase the available visas, for as long as the U.S. military remains in the region. In addition, Congress must require more stringent record keeping and reporting by both the government and its contractors.

After a thorough but timely review, the application and processing system should be reformed to allow for a more expedient nomination process and faster vetting. And in cases where applicants can demonstrate an imminent personal threat, safe locations should be made available for those awaiting final approval from the State Department.

At the least, Congress, the courts, or both should demand that the administration provide a categorical exemption for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis to the 120-day ban and refugee admissions cap.

'Thank You for Your Service'

Nearly three years passed between that frantic phone call and Bandar's final meeting at the U.S. Embassy. There he finally received his visa to travel to the United States.

In all of that time, he never once mentioned his plans to anyone in Iraq beyond the embassy officials who needed to know—not even to his mother. He did this not just for his safety and hers, but because he couldn't bear the thought that someone might convince him to stay.

Only 10 hours before his flight would leave Iraq for America—the first flight he'd ever been on—Bandar told his mother he was leaving. She didn't think he was serious, until she saw the small bag he'd packed for his trip. "She was happy for me, and sad at the same time," he says. "I'm all she has."

Bandar was only able to bring a few personal items with him from Iraq. The most cherished among them is a slim photo album. It does not contain pictures of his family—his mother is his only close blood relative—but of friends, many of whom had also worked in some capacity for the U.S. government.

For a year, Bandar lived in a small room in my apartment. On more than a few occasions I came home to find him weeping, clutching his album. Every time it was the same story, unique only in its grisly details. Another interpreter, another friend, had been slaughtered.

Whatever our views of this war, the Iraqis who worked alongside our soldiers deserve better. Bandar more than earned his American citizenship. But he's one of the lucky ones. His lamented interpreter friends earned theirs too. Instead they were rewarded with ingratitude and death.

"Thank you for your service." People often say that to me when they learn I fought in Iraq. But I don't want to be thanked. I want you to thank Bandar. I want you to thank all the brave Iraqis who put their lives on the line to help soldiers like me make it home. Thousands of them need new homes because they helped us, because they served. Let's unbolt the door. Let's bring them home.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified Sen. Gordon Smith as a Democrat. He is a Republican.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Joe Coon

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  • AFSlade||

    Same story in Afghanistan. I was recently at a funeral for a fellow soldier and ran into one of my "Terps." I wept. I had long ago written him off as dead, after my own failed attempts to get him and several others visas through the State Department - which, by the way, is a fuckshow. If that organization burned to the ground it would be no loss to the US from what I have observed. I was told by State - through official channels - that "didn't I know they weren't accepting visa applications for Afghans?" completely ignoring my initial letter that these were OUR AFGHANS, in some cases handling our most sensitive human intelligence sources...

    NoSirree, Bob! State Dept. is all about da RULEZ!!

    There is a special place in hell for the people who abandoned those who fought alongside us. It is a national disgrace and - unfortunately - a historical norm for us. (Ask those people in Vietnam who we abandoned in '75. Or '73, depending upon your view of the matter... oh, wait - you can't. They're all fucking dead.)

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Amen, brother. A fucking disgrace.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    So not only do we have to pay for decades of expensive medical treatment and financial support for those wounded in those two pointless occupations, and for the families of those killed... now we have to let in hundreds of thousands of foreigners, who were well-paid for their help at the time and given NO promise of US residence. Because "muh national honor".

    Of course it's not your fault that the mission you were sent on was ill-conceived, futile, and pointless. A soldier does not choose the mission, he just follows (moral and legal) orders. So I respect your willingness to put your life on the line to serve the country. But at some point the American people have to cut our losses. We don't have the resources to make sure everyone who likes us is happy and safe.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The idea that military service creates a claim on citizenship predates the United States and goes all the way back to the ancient world. The oath and affirmation of service by American soldiers should be a serious consideration, and if it isn't that way already, congress should make it so.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Come the fuck on. Interpreting isn't military service.

  • STSA||

    It's not? So wearing a uniform, exposing yourself to death and injury, helping our soldiers get the job done, is not a military service? What would our troops do without their interpreters? You think the average Bob and Bill has time to learn arabic or pashtu?

    Interpreting IS a military service.
    http://www.military.com/Recrui.....lators.htm

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Not the way most people understand the term. Certainly not for the purposes of "conferring citizenship".

    The ancient Greeks and Romans sure as hell didn't confer citizenship on barbarians who interpreted for them.

  • Sevo||

    Liberty =>

  • Sevo||

    Liberty(fuck you for your non-pastable handle, asshole)10.15.17 @ 1:34PM|#

    "Not the way most people understand the term."

    You're projecting your stupidity on the general public.
    Something like 10% - 15% of the military handles a weapon and points if at the enemy. The rest are support, and I guess not in the military?
    What an ignorant POS.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Yes, I know. And if you ask the general public in a poll what they consider to be "military service", they're not thinking about cooking meals or inventorying toilet paper, even though those people are technically military.

    If you're going to use questionable modern definitions, you don't get to apply them to "ancient times" as Mr Schultz tried to do.

  • Sevo||

    Liberty(fuck you for your non-pastable handle, asshole) 10.15.17 @ 3:22PM|#
    "And if you ask the general public in a poll what they consider to be "military service", they're not thinking about cooking meals or inventorying toilet paper, even though those people are technically military."

    You're full of shit.

  • Myshkin78||

    I really, really hate to agree with Sevo, but you are full of shit.

  • Sevo||

    Myshkin78|10.15.17 @ 10:23PM|#
    "I really, really hate to agree with Sevo, but you are full of shit."

    I really, really don't want imbeciles to agree with me, so fuck off.

  • IceTrey||

    "What would our troops do without their interpreters?"

    Come home?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Which is why no one's trying to kill them. Right?

  • SIV||

    Joe Coon is senior vice president ofthe Niskanen Center and a veteran of the Iraq War.

    I hope Coon's pet traitor has found a job and isn't sponging off the taxpayers.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    I don't know a lot about this Niskanen Center, but when I see on Wikipedia that "The Niskanen Center states that its main audience is Washington insiders", I immediately roll my eyeballs up to the ceiling and feel like throwing up.

  • Dick Puller, Attorney at Law||

    Will Wilkinson is the Vice President for Policy. Will Wilkinson's involvement in anything should be sufficient to through up red flags.

  • SIV||

    I like how they're openly "anti-free market". That's a hell of a compromise for a "libertarian think tank"

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    The Niskanen Center advocates for the imposition of a global carbon tax for the purpose of offsetting global warming and the effects of climate change.

    Through its poverty and welfare department, the Niskanen Center is also a part of the Economic Security Project, which aims to "comprehensively explore the merits of a universal basic income."

    LOL. A bunch of refugees from Cato after the Koch Bros won the power struggle against Ed Crane, modifying their formerly libertarian stances to appeal to leftists for desperately-needed donations.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    More fugazi libertarians in D.C. I've seen more than enough to say fuck this Niskanen Center.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    More like the Niskanen Left.

  • gaoxiaen||

    To the US gov't, "We got your back" means "Bend over".

  • ||

    "We got your back" means "Bend over".

    You can't get maximum penetration without something fleshy to hold on to.

  • Lily Bulero||

    "For U.S.-affiliated Iraqis—Bandar and other translators among them—resettlement in the United States is a critical lifeline. It fulfills a promise to important allies and signals to potential future partners that the U.S. will have their backs."

    So letting in the interpreters is the right thing to do from a moral perspective *and* it's pragmatic - so of course the U. S. govt screws it up. But I bet they all have "good intentions."

    "And in cases where applicants can demonstrate an imminent personal threat, safe locations should be made available for those awaiting final approval from the State Department."

    May I suggest Guam? I've never been there, but it's a US territory, far from the mainland. They can come to the island on immigration parole and report regularly to the local military to make sure they don't "escape" - just spitballing here, but since the authorities haven't come up with a decent policy I suppose I'm as qualified as anyone to make suggestions.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I can't imagine the downside for American efforts in the region to refuse to repay those who assist in them.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    If we hadn't occupied the country for 8 years futilely trying to make Iraqis get along with each other (and that worked out REAL WELL, didn't it?), we wouldn't have needed any interpreters. We destroyed the Baathist military and government and rooted out Saddam. If we'd walked away at that point, the locals would have understood the meaning of what we did just fine, no interpretation necessary. Violence is the universal language.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Nice sob story, but hard cases make bad law.

    If you make "interpreting for the US military" an automatic guarantee of citizenship/permanent residence, then the terrorist groups will just have some of their members work as interpreters for the US military in Iraq. Then they can get the right documents after a few years to grease the skids for their terror attacks in the US.

  • Lily Bulero||

    Or...they can get a tourist visa and overstay it.

  • Lily Bulero||

    But yes, let's send that message to potential allies: "You can help us out of the goodness of your hearts if you feel like it, but don't expect any shelter if our mutual enemies try to kill you, because how do we know you're not an enemy yourself?"

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    That message doesn't sound at all unreasonable for an invading force to send.

  • Lily Bulero||

    "We're here to help your country, but we're a tad paranoid, so use caution before helping us, we might stab you in the back."

  • Lily Bulero||

    I won't underestimate the cleverness of the terrorists - maybe they can get a trained operative to become an interpreter, help the U. S. soldiers kill fellow-terrorists (or persuade the soldiers that's what's happening), then get to the U. S. after fooling the security people...yes, given that we've had spies actually infiltrate counterintelligence agencies, I can't say such a terrorist operative can't infiltrate the military as a translator.

    Lots of things could happen.

    One thing which has happened is former interpreters getting murdered.

    So presumably there will be fewer terrorist infiltrations - a win - but fewer actual allies helping soldiers in their task of fighting the enemy without being killed.

    It's almost as if there are competing interests in the scales of justice, and we can't put our thumb on the scale against all would-be allies?

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    help the U. S. soldiers kill fellow-terrorists

    This guy was an INTERPRETER. Extremely unlikely that he was interpreting during combat.

    Indeed an interpreter controls what information the person he's interpreting for knows, so he could make sure any intel that actually implicates his fellow-terrorists doesn't make it across.

    Sort of like the Arabic interpreters in Germany who, whenever interpreting for a Syrian Christian refugee, tell asylum judges that they said they came to Germany looking for a job, so their application will be denied.

  • Lily Bulero||

    Of course, we could make the issue kind of moot if U. S. soldiers had more Arabic - either in their training or as graduates from an Arabic program in college. That would be one useful thing the college humanities departments could do to justify their existence (and Arabis wouldn't just be useful for soldiers - the Army may have to offer incentives to get the cream of the crop).

    But we have local interpreters *now* experiencing the blowback from their actions - at least send them to Guam, or Okinawa, while they're being vetted.

  • IceTrey||

    We could make the issue moot if we would stop invading countries that are no threat to us.

  • IceTrey||

    We could make the issue moot if we would stop invading countries that are no threat to us.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Do you remember all those times Iraqi or Afghani "affiliates" turned around and opened fire on US troops inside our own bases? If the visa for service becomes automatic, they're stupid for not waiting a few years so they could come to the US and attack us here instead of over there.

  • Lily Bulero||

    Could you point to the part in the article where the author says "visa for service [should] become[] automatic"?

  • Lily Bulero||

    It seems he's saying something different:

    "And in cases where applicants can demonstrate an imminent personal threat [t themselves], safe locations should be made available for those awaiting final approval from the State Department."

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    That's a subset of the group he is proposing to give visas to. He wants to reinstate SIV, which has no requirement to demonstrate danger to self.

    Applicants [in the SIV program] were required to provide an Iraqi police certificate—essentially another background check. And they had to produce evidence that they had been employed by the U.S. government.

  • Lily Bulero||

    The author said what he said, I won't try to improve on it.

  • Lily Bulero||

    ....because I think his argument looks pretty good.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    The author said what he said, I won't try to improve on it.

    But you will try (and succeed) to quote it out of context!

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    I also find it sickening that a couple of weeks after savaging conservatives for caring about the national anthem as patriotic jingoism, Reason is plastering military uniform pictures all over an article to lend credibility to their push for loosening immigration.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Insults instead of arguments and bare assertions without proof. You aren't a leftist by any chance are you? The Niskanen Center seems like your kind of people.

  • Myshkin78||

    The proof is in the pudding. You're an idiot and a racist. Sucks for you.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Right, everyone knows that the ancient greeks and romans made any barbarian who cooked a meal for them citizens!

  • Les||

    If that's sickening to you, you should consult a physician, as you could be suffering from melodrama. Also, your concerns over interpreters and other immigrants are symptoms of being a whiny scaredy-cat, so you might want to look into that, as well.

  • IceTrey||

    I'm pretty sure Reason has been for open borders since day one.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Spitting with impotent rage because someone knelt in front of the flag = Patriotism

    Upset by the revelation of hundreds of US military allies being brutally murdered because of our government's intransigence = Snowflakey Cuckery

    #EthNatLogic

  • Stilgar||

    Liberty[meaningless symbols]Equality please just go back to your Trumptard hole, you clearly disagree with Reason's take on things and frankly, you have rocks in your head and need to get help, especially with math and logic symbols.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    It's a contradiction symbol moron.

  • Myshkin78||

    Still dumb. And possibly transgender.

  • Sevo||

    "It's a contradiction symbol moron."
    The fact that it's not pastable is a result of your stupidity, right?

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    It's not my fault that Reason blocks the escape codes.

  • Sevo||

    "It's not my fault that Reason blocks the escape codes."

    Liberty(fuck you for your non-pastable handle, asshole)
    Yeah, you POS, it's not your fault that you post with a handle that isn't pastable, since you are just, uh well, a fucking imbecile who can't figure that out.

  • James_R||

    These interpreters sought employment from an unwelcome occupying army. Helping us kill and subdue their own people in exchange for cash. Not exactly a heroic act worthy of special immigration assistance.

  • Lily Bulero||

    We're estopped from making that argument, as our govt deemed the war worth fighting and hence worth recruiting interpreters for.

    We can't just turn around and say "the war he were fighting was immoral on our part, so you're going to get what's coming to you."

    It would be one thing if we hired a bunch of nazi doctors to perform unspeakable experiments. We could arrest them and their handlers.

    But we hired these people as interpreters in a controversial war. Cutting them loose would far more unheroic than anything we accuse the interpreters of.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    We can't just turn around and say "the war he were fighting was immoral on our part, so you're going to get what's coming to you."

    Of course we can. No promises to the contrary were made, and even if they had been, we in 2017 are not bound by illegal promises made in 2003. They can take it up with the neocons who started the war.

  • Lily Bulero||

    A country has a continuous existence - neocons or no neocons, the country as a whole did certain things and incurred debts of honor.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Fuck that collectivist shit.

  • Lily Bulero||

    I think it's fairly collectivist to say that just about everyone born in the U. S. is a citizen (a principle I agree with as a general rule). Do you want to reject that version of collectivism and say that "this country owes you nothing just because of an accident of birth!"

  • Lily Bulero||

    I'm invoking good old Merriam Webster, 2nd definition of collectivism:

    "emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity"

    http://bit.ly/2gIMDDN

  • Myshkin78||

    You're trying to get a remorseless Trumptard to feel remorse. Good luck with that.

  • Bra Ket||

    wait you were being serious?

  • Mark22||

    No promises to the contrary were made, and even if they had been, we in 2017 are not bound by illegal promises made in 2003. They can take it up with the neocons who started the war.

    Well, you won't object then if we make the same argument to DACA recipients then: "screw you, and thank for registering with the government".

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    You don't know me very well if you think that's some sort of gotcha. I would be chill with deporting them all tomorrow, so yeah.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    We already knew you were an ethno-nationalist sociopath, Lib Eq, you don't have to keep reminding everyone.

  • Bra Ket||

    I'd like to hear these moral arguments fleshed out a bit more. What is indefensible about the overthrow of a dictator and allowing of him to be brought to justice? or the defense of a primitive democratic system to replace the dictatorship and prevent small vicious minority groups from taking or retaking power instead?

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Because it made things worse. And it was foreseeable that it was going to make things worse even before we did it.

    The world is a shitty place. Pick a random land location on the globe and it's likely ruled by someone every bit as bad as Saddam. We can't fix that and we can't afford to try.

  • Bra Ket||

    I didn't say we could fix everything. I certainly didn't say we should. I don't even need to argue about whether the result was better or worse. I do take issue with people who think they can predict the future so accurately, but we'll leave that aside.

    However, Saddam sure as hell was "fixed". You seem to be making the argument that dispensing justice for a mass murderer was actually an immoral thing to do, because of new mass murders by new assholes, which are apparently our fault as opposed to, say, their own.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Removing Saddam from power and executing him, in themselves, were not immoral. All the killing we did along the way to that goal, and even moreso the killing we did during the occupation, is another matter, given that there were never reasonable prospects of success.

  • Bra Ket||

    Seemed like it was pretty simple to accomplish actually. Where is this goalpost of yours for "success"?

  • Mark22||

    These interpreters sought employment from an unwelcome occupying army.

    What makes you think the army was "unwelcome"? Lots of people in these countries want more democracy and more liberty, and they are hoping that US military action can bring it about.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    How did that work out?

  • James_R||

    "What makes you think the army was "unwelcome"? .................I don't know. Maybe it had something to do with so many of them trying to kill our soldiers. What kind of government people in foreign lands want or don't want is of no concern to us. Feel free to leave the U.S. and join in any sort of foreign cause you like.

  • Mark22||

    Maybe it had something to do with so many of them trying to kill our soldiers

    "So many of them" meaning, what, 0.1% of the population, and that's of the population that's still in the country (millions of dissidents having left). Are you going to determine the will of the people based on the actions of a small minority?

    What kind of government people in foreign lands want or don't want is of no concern to us.

    Feel free to argue that the US should not send its military to those countries because it is not in our interest; in fact I fully agree.

    But don't try to argue that the US should not send its military tot hose countries because it is not in their interest, because that is a questionable proposition. Questionable propositions like that do not support an argument.

  • Sevo||

    James_R|10.15.17 @ 5:03PM|#
    "These interpreters sought employment from an unwelcome occupying army. Helping us kill and subdue their own people in exchange for cash. Not exactly a heroic act worthy of special immigration assistance."

    I'm gonna start with the statement that engagement in Iraq was a fucking idiotic move. Yes, that asshole Hussein should have been 'removed', but not by the US.
    Given that, imagine being one of those on Hussein's 'list' and suddenly finding the chance of surviving! This is the great, big, wonnerful, everybody is rich, gonna save the world USofA!!!!
    So let's just be clear that they, at best, were sold a 'bill of goods'.

  • James_R||

    How Saddam and his regime conducted their affairs was of no concern to us. Our military's only role is to keep us free. That's it. It has nothing to do with some foreigner on a dictator's hit list.

  • Mark22||

    I'm gonna start with the statement that engagement in Iraq was a fucking idiotic move. Yes, that asshole Hussein should have been 'removed', but not by the US.

    That's true. But it is unrelated to whether the "occupying army" was "unwelcome". Let's take the quote and apply it to the Nazis:

    These French interpreters sought employment from an unwelcome occupying army. Helping us kill and subdue their own people, as represented by the Vichy regime, in exchange for cash.

    Now, do you think that the French anti-Nazi resistance was a good thing or a bad thing? Do you think that French Nazis should have been "killed and subdued" or not?

    You need to keep two arguments apart: (1) whether it is in the US interest and morally permissible to send the military to some other place, and (2) whether what the US military would do in that other place is beneficial to the people there. We should deploy the US military based only on (1) regardless of (2); you are falling into the trap of progressives and neo-cons by trying to argue about (2).

  • Mark22||

    According to Democrats, Bandar has lower priority than all those Mexican laborers who walked across the border illegally.

    Not particularly surprising, since according to Democrats, skilled, legal immigrants have lower priority than all those Mexican laborers who walked across the border illegally.

  • SIV||

    I'd take tens of thousands of motivated Mexicans over one Muslim traitor.

  • Mark22||

    Let's replace one fascist regime with another:

    "I'd take tens of thousands of motivated Mexicans over one Nazi traitor resistance fighter."

    Yes, and that's exactly the problem.

  • ||

    These are bad people. BAD BAD people. Trust me I know BAD people better than everyone else. There is no person who knows BAD people like I do. Look, they have already betrayed their own country by working with foreign invaders. They would do the same if they come to USA. And we do not need Iraqi interpreters in this country. They are taking the jobs. - Trumf.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: The Long, Frustrating Fight to Get an Iraqi Interpreter Out of Baghdad and Into the U.S.

    He's an illegal alien.
    He must not come into our country.
    (Hides under bed.)

  • Mark22||

    He can't be an "illegal alien" if he didn't come to our country illegally.

    In fact, what he illustrates is how screwed people are who try to go through the process legally.

    If he had just come to the US illegally, people would provide him sanctuary and in a few years a work permit and amnesty.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Interpreters are known by the company they keep. Refraining from invading or bombing people on the other side of the planet might be a step toward saving lives. Ottoman tribes were attacking each other long before Cleveland became president. By generating nuclear energy and relying on our own oil and gas we could avoid those entanglements.

  • True Scottsman||

    It would be awesome if you ever wrote something that made any sense.

  • jimslag609||

    Wow, that is awesome that he got Bandar out of Iraq, but it is terrible that the US is dragging it's feet in helping others who helped us out. I was in the first Gulf War and retired before the other actions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We still had plenty of contractors that helped us out in the first one and most were heroes in Kuwait back then but there are extremists everywhere that remember. The US needs to get their act together and streamline the process.