An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The misfortune of being born Iraqi

A New York Times Magazine article by Nir Rosen about the Iraqi refugee crisis contains the following gem:

“What I find most disturbing,” [Kenneth] Bacon [president of Refugees International] went on to say, “is that there seems to be no recognition of the problem by the president or top White House officials.” But John Bolton, who was undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration, and later ambassador to the United Nations, offers one explanation for this lack of recognition: it is not a crisis, and it was not triggered by American action. The refugees, he said, have “absolutely nothing to do with our overthrow of Saddam.

“Our obligation,” he told me this month at his office in the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, “was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don’t think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war”…

When I read John Bolton’s comments to Paula Dobriansky — the undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs — and her colleague Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, they mainly agreed with him.

I immediately recalled an public appearance by former CIA agent John Stockwell which I attended in 1989. I remember during his recounting his experiences as the Vietnam War ended, he had a conversation with the CIA station chief in Saigon. In response to Stockwell's begging him to authorize the evacuation of CIA assets (English translation: Vietnamese people who worked for the CIA at great risk, who would most certainly die at the hands of the victorious North Vietnamese) the station chief refused and stated flatly, "It is not our fault that these people had the misfortune to be born Vietnamese."

Oh, and courtesy of This Modern World I read this wonderful exhibit from the memory hole: “I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude. That's the problem here in America: They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq." -- George W. Bush, last January.

I suppose these kinds of disconnections must exist in order for administrations, present and past, to function at all. I wonder what the people who voted for Bush in 2004 think of this?

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