In his Times' column (read the entire article) today, Frank Rich points out the Bush administration has deserted Iraqis just as it deserted the citizens of New Orleans.
"...the Iraqis were always pawns on the geopolitical chessboard rather than actual people in the administration’s reckless bet to “transform” the Middle East...."
"Iraqis are clamoring to get out of Iraq. Two million have fled so far and nearly two million more have been displaced within the country. (That’s a total of some 15 percent of the population.)... Iraq’s child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation’s. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5...."
"To admit that Iraqis are voting with their feet is to concede that American policy is in ruins. A “secure” Iraq is a mirage, and, worse, those who can afford to leave are the very professionals who might have helped build one. Thus the president says nothing about Iraq’s humanitarian crisis, the worst in the Middle East since 1948, much as he tried to hide the American death toll in Iraq by keeping the troops’ coffins off-camera and staying away from military funerals...."
"The easiest way to keep the Iraqi plight out of sight, after all, is to prevent Iraqis from coming to America. And so we do...."
"Since the 2003 invasion, America has given only 466 Iraqis asylum. Sweden, which was not in the coalition of the willing, plans to admit 25,000 Iraqis this year alone. Our State Department, goaded by January hearings conducted by Ted Kennedy, says it will raise the number for this year to 7,000 (a figure that, small as it is, may be more administration propaganda). A bill passed by Congress this month will add another piddling 500, all interpreters."
"... 5,000 interpreters worked for the Americans. So did tens of thousands of drivers and security guards who...have “an assassin’s bull’s-eye on their backs” because they served the occupying government and its contractors over the past four-plus years."
"...the real forerunner to American treatment of Iraqi refugees is...World War II. That’s when an anti-Semitic assistant secretary of state, Breckinridge Long, tirelessly obstructed the visa process to prevent Jews from obtaining sanctuary in America, not even filling the available slots under existing quotas. As many as 75,000 such refugees were turned away before the Germans cut off exit visas to Jews in late 1941...."
"The message is clear enough: These ungrateful losers deserve everything that’s coming to them. The Iraqis hear us and are returning the compliment. Whether Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is mocking American demands for timelines and benchmarks, or the Iraqi Parliament is setting its own timeline for American withdrawal even while flaunting its vacation schedule, Iraq’s nominal government is saying it’s fed up. The American-Iraqi shotgun marriage of convenience, midwifed by disastrous Bush foreign policy, has disintegrated into the marriage from hell."
" That we are slamming the door in their faces tells you all you need to know about the real morality beneath all the professed good intentions of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Though the war’s godfathers saw themselves as ridding the world of another Hitler, their legacy includes a humanitarian catastrophe that will need its own Raoul Wallenbergs and Oskar Schindlers if lives are to be saved."