Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guaranteed Sacrifice-Free

The lack of movement in getting more visas for Iraqis to relocate to the United States is disturbing. While millions have fled both internally and into neighboring countries, visas for Iraqis to the US number in the scant five figures and even lower. It seems intuitive to me that if we destabilized the security situation in their country through our own unilateral action, whatever else might be said about that, we incur some obligation to offer a haven to people whose protection we removed. This is particularly compelling to me when I consider that many of these people are in danger in Iraq because they worked with the Americans, showing faith in our competence and integrity to protect them and help them to improve their lives. Vietnamese political refugees in the United States have developed into an important and prosperous part of the community; Iraqis would be coming into a country that already has one of the largest and most prosperous Arab communities in the world. Why doesn't the administration do the right thing and expedite visas in numbers commensurate with the needs of Iraqi political refugees?
There are several reasons, all bad. The administration is sensitive to conservative sentiment about immigration, an issue with which the administration has to its credit dealt more or less responsibly. The administration has campaigned by waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 so long that they can't now propose to let in some hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, as they should. To start a relatively large relocation program would be seen as acknowledgement of failure in Iraq. But most disturbingly of all, this is an administration that tries to tell the American people that wars can be fought with no sacrifice to Americans in general. The ideology seems to be that the Americans should never be called upon to make some collective sacrifices for a greater good. And that is the real measure of the administration.

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