The Iraq War has made refugees of millions of Iraqis. They
have been ethnically cleansed or displaced to other locations both inside the
country, to neighboring countries, and overseas. Yet the Bush administration,
the creator of the chaos and mayhem in Iraq, has done little to help them.
According to NBC News, since April 2003, when the initial
U.S. military action was over, the United States has taken in a scant 535 Iraqi
refugees. In contrast, European countries, many of which opposed the Bush
administration�s invasion, have taken in 18,000. One commentator noted that
taking any more Iraqis would be an implicit admission by the administration
that the war was not going well.
Well, guess what, the war isn�t going well -- and this dirty
little secret has been out for some time now. The U.S. government has a long
tradition of remaining secretive about embarrassing facts that have long been
obvious to everyone -- sometimes with disastrous consequences. For example, in
the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, President John F. Kennedy didn�t allow the
invading Cuban exiles, as they hit the beach, to have the support of their own
air power or that of the United States, because that would have indicated that
the invasion had outside help -- read the United States -- and was not merely
an indigenous uprising. No matter that the United States had a long history of
overthrowing governments in Latin America, and American newspapers had already
run articles exposing the U.S. training of the Cuban exile invasion force in
Central America. Because Cuban leader Fidel Castro could read, he readied a
much larger force, which was waiting for and defeated the invaders when they
Similarly, no one any longer believes rosy Bush
administration pronouncements on Iraq. Although even Harry Reid, the Senate
Majority Leader, still has trouble mouthing the �L� word, people with any
common sense, including stalwart Republican supporters of the administration,
has had that sinking feeling in their stomachs for a while now that the cause
in Iraq has been lost.
Politicians don�t like to tell the American public what they
don�t want to hear, but at least the administration could quietly begin to open
the floodgates for Iraqi refugees. Many of these people helped the United
States in Iraq and could be in grave danger once U.S. forces are reduced or
Alas, however, the United States, the melting pot of
immigrants, has a surprisingly poor record of opening its borders to wartime
refugees. A couple of examples are illustrative. The United States left far too
many of its friends to a grim fate after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. In
addition, prior to and during World War II, the United States had a disgraceful
record of taking in Jews being openly and viciously persecuted by Adolf Hitler.
The United States could have saved many innocent lives if the puny number of
Jewish refugees taken in had been significantly hiked. This abysmal record was
one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt�s greatest failings.
The United States must do better in the Iraq case. Much of
the violence in Iraq has been caused directly or indirectly by U.S. policy. The
Iraq invasion was a war of choice against a former ally that had never
instigated hostilities against the United States and was little threat to U.S.
security. The United States chose to depose an authoritarian regime that was
the only thing holding together a fractious country, which already had had its
social fabric torn by numerous wars and grinding international economic
sanctions. The United States, with insufficient military strength to provide
security for the country, then disbanded the only other forces capable of
helping bring order -- the Iraqi security forces.
With so much to answer for in Iraq, the Bush administration
needs to own up to its colossal failure and help save Iraqis that have already
sacrificed much to help the United States in its quixotic quest to bring
democracy to that divided nation. Unfortunately for these Iraqis, in similar
past situations, the United States has a very poor record, and the Bush
administration is not good at even implicitly making mistakes.
Eland is Director of the Center
on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of
The Independent Review.
Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in
applied economics and Ph.D. in national security policy from George Washington
University. He has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato
Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office,
Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General
Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and
Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He is author of
the books, The Empire
Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, and Putting �Defense�
Back into U.S. Defense Policy.