Monday, May 14, 2007

The Exodus

Nir Rosen's latest piece in the New York Times Magazine on Iraqi refugees in Syria, Egypt and Jordan is a must-read. I have waited for such coverage of this neglected story - the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948 - to appear in the U.S. media for ages. (Be sure to also check out the haunting photo and video essays on the same page.)

The following part of the story immediately stuck out:

“What I find most disturbing,” Bacon 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.”
Up to four million stranded Iraqi refugees (%15 of the population), and John Bolton thinks it's not a crisis. I wonder if Bolton would think it's a crisis if, say, 45 million Americans (%15) were forced to leave their homes tomorrow. But if he really believes that the U.S. has "fullfilled the obligation to give new institutions and provide security," then I wouldn't count on it.