Will Rogers suggested a simple standard for evaluating any country or community: Are people trying to get in? Or are they trying to get out?
By that standard, as Dahr Jamail reports on TomDispatch, Iraq is a massive failure:
Let's start with the numbers, inadequate as they are. The latest UN figures concerning the refugee crisis in Iraq indicate that between 1-1.2 million Iraqis have fled across the border into Syria; about 750,000 have crossed into Jordan (increasing its modest population of 5.5 million by 14%); at least another 150,000 have made it to Lebanon; over 150,000 have emigrated to Egypt; and — these figures are the trickiest of all — over 1.9 million are now estimated to have been internally displaced by civil war and sectarian cleansing within Iraq.
These numbers are staggering in a population estimated in the pre-invasion years at only 26 million. At a bare minimum, in other words, at least one out of every seven Iraqis has had to flee his or her home due to the violence and chaos set off by the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Syrian officials and UNHCR workers tell Jamail that these estimates are probably too low — that the number of Iraqi refugees in Syria is probably closer to 1.5 million. The High Commissioner for Refugees has a budget of only $16 million for 2007 for assisting these refugees.
The primary trigger for this crisis was the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, and yet President Bush and his top officials have taken no significant steps whatsoever to share in the resulting refugee burden. To date, the administration has issued only 466 visas to Iraqis. Under recent pressure from the UN, it has said that it would offer an additional 7,000 visas — but without either announcing the criteria for accepting such refugees or even when the visas might be issued.
This is unacceptable. America has an obligation — for pragmatic, political reasons as well as inescapable moral ones — to help these people. Even the minimum threshhold of Colin Powell's "Pottery-Barn rule" makes this clear. And yet America is doing almost nothing to assist these refugees we helped to create. To do so would undermine the attempt to create the perception that steady "progress is being made." To assist, and therefore acknowledge, these millions of refugees would undermine the desperate spin promoted by the Bush administration and its defenders that any apparent bad news out of Iraq is the product of media bias. And so, to maintain the lie that the good news is being underreported, the human suffering of 4 million people is ignored and the debt we owe them is unacknowledged, unpaid.
And every month, another 50,000 refugees flee their "liberated" country. Joining them, soon, will be Riverbend and her family. Anyone who has been reading her Baghdad-based blog for the past five years has seen the abundant evidence of their courage and resourcefulness, and of their love for their home. Yet finally, they have decided, it is time to flee:
It's difficult to decide which is more frightening — car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.
Riverbend suggests that part of what finally spurred this desperate decision was the "Great Wall of Segregation":
Which is the wall the current Iraqi government is building (with the support and guidance of the Americans). It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest "Sunni" area in Baghdad — let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will "protect" A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis. …
The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently — Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer — like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas."
This wall, and the division and separation of the people of Iraq it symbolizes, is deeply troublesome. It suggests that the current flood of Iraqi refugees — already perhaps the "most severe refugee crisis on the planet" Jamail says — is likey to increase dramatically. And it is likely to do so regardless of whether American forces stay or go, surge or redeploy.
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, the president of Genocide Watch, offers a watchlist of "The Eight Stages of Genocide."
Go read his entire list and his explanation of each step and consider whether all of these have not already begun, at least in part, in Iraq.