After Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition, I thought my capacity for feeling shame over this administration�?Ts outrages had been exhausted — leaving only rage.
I was wrong.��
Here are a few of the key paragraphs:
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�?Ts a total of some 15 percent of the population.) Save the Children reported this month that Iraq�?Ts child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation�?Ts. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5. Yet for all the words President Bush has lavished on Darfur and AIDS in Africa, there has been a deadly silence from him about what�?Ts happening in the country he gave �??God�?Ts gift of freedom.�??
*� *� *
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.
In reality, more than 5,000 interpreters worked for the Americans. So did tens of thousands of drivers and security guards who also, in Senator Kennedy�?Ts phrase, have �??an assassin�?Ts bull�?Ts-eye on their backs�?? because they served the occupying government and its contractors over the past four-plus years. How we feel about these Iraqis was made naked by one of the administration�?Ts most fervent hawks, the former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, speaking to The Times Magazine this month. He claimed that the Iraqi refugee problem had �??absolutely nothing to do�?? with Saddam�?Ts overthrow: �??Our obligation was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don�?Tt think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war.�??
*� *� *
While it seems but a dim memory now, once upon a time some Iraqis did greet the Americans as liberators. Today, in fact, it is just such Iraqis �?’ not the local Iraqi insurgents the president conflates with Osama bin Laden�?Ts Qaeda in Pakistan �?’ who do want to follow us home. 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�?Ts 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.
For a more intimate account of America�?Ts betrayal of those Iraqis who came to our assistance after the invasion, be sure to read this report in The New Yorker.
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