Boat People

Syria has so far accepted (at least) 1.5 million Iraqi refugees. Beginning today, that country is placing limits on the number and type of future refugees it will accept. As CBS News reports:

With the massive influx of refugees, Syria is starting to feel the strain.

“There’s a huge impact for a country of 20 million people to receive a million and half within a few months. There is a huge burden on our services: medical, school, infrastructure — everything,” says Minister of Expatriates Buthania Shaaban.

As a result of the increasing stress from the refugee crisis, the Syrian government recently announced a new visa policy which, as of Sept. 10, will only allow professionals to enter the country — effectively shutting out thousands of people.

This isn’t surprising, but it’s not good news for the more than 2 million Iraqis who have fled their country or for the 2.2 million more who are “displaced internally” and may soon join those fleeing the country in search of safety. (Figures from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.)

Those figures are not disputed, they’re simply ignored by the current American debate over whether or not the so-called “surge” is “working” (whatever that means). The fact that one out of every six Iraqis has fled their home seems like it ought to be relevant to any discussion of the “security situation” in that country, but it has apparently been decided that the opinions of these 4.2 million Iraqis — voting with their feet and their whole lives — should not be given quite as much weight in this discussion as the opinion of the very serious Michael O’Hanlon or the other York Hardings who, after all, have visited Iraq several times.

Let’s revisit the speech President Bush gave last month at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. The absurdities of that speech were so glaring that it was easy to overlook its obscenities, but those obscenities also deserve our attention. Arguing that America should not have withdrawn from Vietnam and likewise/therefore must never withdraw from Iraq, President Bush cited the refugee crisis that followed the fall of South Vietnam:

Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea. … One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like “boat people.”

More than a million refugees fled Vietnam after the end of that war, with some 823,000 of them finding refuge and resettling here, in America over the following two decades. An American withdrawal from Iraq, President Bush suggested, would result in a similar refugee crisis.

As with all of the dire predictions Bush makes about what might happen following an American withdrawal, the president fails to notice that: A) the thing he is “warning” could happen someday is already happening, now, due in part to the American presence in Iraq; and B) it is far worse and far more serious than the hypothetical nightmare he “warns” might occur.

Just consider the numbers. There are already nearly twice as many Iraqi refugees as there were refugees fleeing Southeast Asia after 1975. Syria has already taken in nearly twice as many Iraqi refugees as America took in from Vietnam over the course of 20 years. And how is the Bush administration responding to this non-hypothetical refugee crisis?

The Bush administration’s plan is to admit 10,000 to 12,000 Iraqis a year, starting next year.

That’s from Bruce Finley’s Denver Post report, in which he also notes that:

Between 1992 and 2002, the U.S. accepted an average of 2,800 Iraqi refugees a year. Since then, the annual average has dropped to 191.

Let’s give the Bush administration credit for the ambitious high end of its plan: providing refuge for 12,000 fleeing Iraqis next year. That comes out to 0.006 percent of the 2 million Iraqis, so far, forced to flee the lethal chaos following the American-led invasion of their country.

So, to be fair, we shouldn’t say that Bush’s speech was obscene. It was only 99.994 percent obscene.

As I write this, Gen. David Petraeus is testifying before Congress that, “The military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met.” None of the 2 million Iraqis who have already fled nor any of the 50,000 additional refugees leaving that country every month has been asked to offer their testimony about all of the progress the general is describing, so let me give the last word here to one of them, the former Baghdad blogger Riverbend, who posted for the first time in months last week, reporting that she and her family have arrived safely in Syria, before that country’s new rules went into effect:

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds … we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees — rich or poor. And refugees all look the same — there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness. How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe 20 minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and … peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe — even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest.

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?

  • Matt

    So what’s the solution? More troops? a draft? or a complete withdrawal?
    It’s certain that this whole Iraq adventure is an absolute fiasco. But I tend to agree with the assessment that we now have some responsibility to bring order to the situation. (i.e. we broke it, we bought it) Is withdrawal the best solution or will that lead to more chaos and, potentially, genocide?
    Honestly, I don’t know what the right thing to do is at this point. I tend to think that we do not need to withdrawal but we need to get more troops in there, and make radical shift from security and combat operations to do what we propmised 4 years ago and make massive efforts to rebuild the country with help from countries like Syria and non-US contractors.
    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like we’ve been operating under the idea that security comes first, then comes the rebuilding. That’s clearly backwards. I think if we provide luxuries like potable water and electricity and jobs, the security situation should improve.

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    I think if we provide luxuries like potable water and electricity and jobs, the security situation should improve.
    *spits drink across room*
    Please tell me you’re being sarcastic when you refer to things like potable water and jobs as luxuries!

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    oh, man sorry about the bold tag. Hope I just fixed it.

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    apparently not

  • Lila

    Note to self: try not to get country into situations there is no good way out of.

  • Rozzen

    Well, the problem is if you provide luxuries without security vandals will just break stuff as you build it (I’m saying “vandals” because those are essentially acts of vandalism, but of course you may replace that by “insurgents”, “terrorists”, “freedom fighters”, “enemy combatants” as you choose). Isn’t that what happened at the beginning of the occupation ?
    And when you argue against withdrawal you can’t just say “it will be worse if we leave”. Everyone knows that, but unless you intend to stay in Irak forever there *will* be a time when you will leave, so the question becomes “will things be better if we leave later rather than earlier ?”
    This could be the case if there was a real, efficient strategy for rebuilding the country. But at this point, considering how overextended the army is and how badly the situation has degenerated… Is it even possible ?
    The “we broke it, we bought it” by the way is an ugly analogy because Irak wasn’t for sale. Right now you’re more like a guy who got invited to someone’s house, went “oh your TV image is a bit shaky, wait I’ll just jiggle it this way and… oops…” and now we’re six hours later and you’re going “No no no ! I broke it, I’m responsible for it ! So where does this bit go… What was that cracking sound, did I step on something ? Don’t worry everything will be fine !” while the host hovers worriedly, insisting you should really go home now they’ll call the repairman in the morning, it’s really no trouble I assure you, okay I’m calling 911.
    Except of course there’s no repairman for Irak…

  • Matt Cook

    Yes, definitely sarcasm on the water and electricity as luxury items. Sorry it wasn’t more clear.
    And granted, the “broke it bought it” analogy was clumsy. I guess a more direct version would be “We completely fucked it up by invading the country without any sort of post-Saddam plan and then continued to make a bad situation into complete clusterfuck through imcomptence, poor management and willful ignorance, and we should bear the responsibility to try to make things right.”
    If it is clear that pulling out our troops ASAP will making things better, then begin the airlift tonight. This war was clearly a mistake. The first three years of the occupation have clearly been a mistake. But I don’t think withdrawing the troops will automatically undo all that.
    I’m just extremely frustrated and disgusted by the situation that this administration has created and doesn’t really seem to be too concerned with improving. 12,000 refugees a year is shameful.

  • Drak Pope

    Hey, at least we’re letting any of them in. It’s their fault all of this happened. If they hadn’t attacked the 9/11 Towers on Twin Tower, 2001, they would still have their commie dictator and their running water and electricity and they might not have been kicked out of the Axis of Evil. Nuke ‘em all, I’ve always said. Bush/Cheney ’08!
    (yes I’m kidding. The humor staunches the horror).

  • http://tobascodagama.com Joshua

    The danger of trying to parody right-wing Kool-Aid drinkers, Matt, is that no matter how extreme and ridiculous you think you sound, there’s somebody out there who genuinely believes in what you’re satirising.

  • RALovett

    Fred,
    Good post, but double-check the math. I think it’s only 99.4 percent obscene.

  • Cowboy Diva

    Unfortunately I no longer think the question is whether pulling our troops will make it better. The question now is whether keeping our troops there is making it worse.
    sigh.

  • Scott

    Damn selfish Iraqi refugees, deserting those worse off in their country and voting with their feet. How dare they individually choose their own government and decide for themselves they’d rather have Assad than whoever the Hell we have running the place now. You don’t get to choose your own government as a mere individual. That decision must be made collectively.

  • L

    Damn selfish Iraqi refugees, deserting those worse off in their country [...]
    They remind one of those pesky Mexicans that way. [/sarcasm]

  • Jeff

    L, repeat to yourself: IWNFTT, IWNFTT, IWNFTT

  • PurpleGirl

    Jeff, what does “IWNFTT” mean?
    A couple of weeks ago, 60 minutes (I think) did a story on the refugee crisis. They interviewed the current administrator for resettlement programs who was sprouting the administration’s lines about so many people to take, that people don’t want to leave, blah, blah, blah. They also interviewed the person who administered resettlement programs after VietNam and who explained the numbers of the people who they resettled then and wouldn’t accept that we can’t take in more refugees.
    On a personal note, I remember that various Lutheran charity groups were active in sponsoring refugees and placing them with churches as local sponsors. The church I belonged to at the time sponsored several families. All those RTCs out there should be ashamed of themselves if they aren’t planning on helping to sponsor refugees. It would be the New Testament thing to do, I think.

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    IWNFTT=I Will Not Feed The Troll

  • PurpleGirl

    cjmr, Thank you.

  • bad Jim

    “Immediate withdrawal” is the straw man in the Republican argument. It isn’t even possible. We have too many soldiers and too much materiel to remove our army within even a few months. If we started now it would take the better part of a year to bring everybody and everything home.
    What do the Iraqis themselves think?

    The BBC/ABC/NHK survey, conducted in all 19 provinces during August, finds that 70% of Iraqis believe that security has deteriorated in the areas covered by the US “surge”

    Only 15% express confidence in US/UK occupation forces, down from 18% in February, with 58% expressing “no confidence at all” – the highest in any of these surveys dating back to 2003.

    Only 1% of Sunnis say that security has improved in Iraq as a whole in the last 6 months. 72% of Sunnis say that the US forces should leave immediately. 95% of Sunnis say that the presence of US troops makes security worse. 93% still see attacks on coalition forces as acceptable.

  • Dennis

    I disagree with the “broke it bought it” or the “We completely fucked it up by invading the country without any sort of post-Saddam plan and then continued to make a bad situation into complete clusterfuck through imcomptence, poor management and willful ignorance, and we should bear the responsibility to try to make things right” analogies. As pointed out in the extended version of the analogy, we simply did not fuck up Iraq once after removing Saddam from power, we continue to fuck up Iraq to this day. Our first step in helping Iraq should be to stop fucking it up as soon as possible.

  • Ecks

    But if we stop fucking Iraq up, then what happens to having a nice dependable middle eastern arabic client state? One of the whole points of this exercise was to not need air bases in saudi arabia any more. Having them there pissed off the AQ guys, and boosted their recruiting, you know. And if bush isn’t a war time president then why would we all be obliged to like him? No, far better to batter, kick, and pound at this domino until it falls and spreads inevitable peace democracy and harmony through the entire region. If only the middle east had *just* *one* working democracy to serve as an example….
    </snark>

  • MikeJ

    We have too many soldiers and too much materiel to remove our army within even a few months.
    The materiel raises an interesting point. It’s hard to find a fully equipped NG unit these days. Most of them have been deployed at least once, and every time they come back, they leave all of their HMMWVs et al over there. If they leave ‘em there anyway, once more won’t hurt. I’m sure the contract to replace them has already been “bid” (hahahah).
    While it’s no easy task to move 150k people, that’s why they say pros study logistics. Issue the order, tell them to make it as fast as is prudent, and tell the planners they’ll be the last ones out.

  • bad Jim

    I’m not sure why we need to bring the materiel out. I’m just repeating what I’ve read. We certainly need our vehicles and a lot of other equipment just to get the troops to the border (and please let us not have bombed Iran meantime; we don’t wan’t to have a worse time evacuating a country than we had invading it).
    It’s not all that clear why we can’t just leave it behind when we’re done with it. The Iraqis would probably make better use of a clapped-out Humvee than we could.

  • Anonymous

    If it is clear that pulling out our troops ASAP will making things better, then begin the airlift tonight. This war was clearly a mistake. The first three years of the occupation have clearly been a mistake. But I don’t think withdrawing the troops will automatically undo all that.
    We can’t make things better at this point. The choice is between bad, worse and worst.
    The bad choice is to withdraw the troops. The worst choice, for both our country and theirs, is to stay there and pretend that just a little longer will result in “victory.”

  • http://accidental-historian.blogspot.com/ Geds

    It’s not all that clear why we can’t just leave it behind when we’re done with it. The Iraqis would probably make better use of a clapped-out Humvee than we could.
    Because it’s not just an issue of leaving a bunch of busted-out Humvees in the desert to rot or be scavenged in some sort of Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic desert scene.
    If we leave everything behind and ditch the country, we’re going to be leaving M1A3 main battle tanks and M2/M3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and Apache Longbow attack helicopters and mountains of artillery shells, rifle ammo and rockets. It’s all top of the line stuff and not exactly the sort of equipment you just want to leave out for anyone to take, especially since most Middle Eastern nations are still using surplus Soviet Bloc or American military equipment from the ’60s and ’70s.
    If somebody, whether it’s Al Qaeda, Syria, or a local warlord gets their hands on that stuff, then the current fears we have of a destabilized Middle East will pale in comparison. Or they’ll sell it off on the black market to some other nation which will suddenly become significantly more of a threat. It’s not a good idea to leave equipment behind.
    Besides, when an army leaves the field or theater of battle without their arms, it’s generally because they’ve been completely routed and are retreating in disarray. It’s not a good PR move…

  • cjmr’s husband

    The problem is getting out the explosives????
    Fine. Park all the tanks in the desert. Blow them up using the artillery shells.
    Problem solved, go the fark home.

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    Great idea, dear. I’m sure that’ll make our Raytheon stock go up as the Pentagon places massive orders to replace all that munition.
    [/snark]

  • Ursula L

    “We completely fucked it up by invading the country without any sort of post-Saddam plan and then continued to make a bad situation into complete clusterfuck through imcomptence, poor management and willful ignorance, and we should bear the responsibility to try to make things right.”
    The problem with this is that any successful “fix” would need to begin with the honest admission that we not only broke the country, but that we did so based on lies, that we’re genuinely sorry, and that we’re putting ourselves in the hands of those we’ve wronged so that they can get the appropriate recompense for our wrong.
    As long as we’re there people will fight us, as invaders, on principle. And there is nothing we can do about it, because the principle of fighting people who have invaded and occupied your country based on lies is basically a just principle. People want the invaders out, and they don’t want a government that is a puppet to the invaders. They want the injustices that the invaders and puppets have already committed (such as the deal to sell oil to western companies) undone. Those are just demands – and a solution that doesn’t involve a just resolution of those grievances can’t work.
    Whatever fix is possible, the US can’t be the one to implement it. The mere fact that the US is associate with it will taint any fix beyond repair.
    We’re the bad guys here. (Yes, there are other “bad guys” by now in addition to us. But that does not undo our initial “bad guy” status.) And any “solution” that doesn’t take that into account will fail.

  • Ursula L

    Great idea, dear. I’m sure that’ll make our Raytheon stock go up as the Pentagon places massive orders to replace all that munition.
    If we stay, those munitions will be used up, fighting Iraqis, and Raytheon will still get the contract to replace them.
    Better destroyed in the desert than used to destroy human lives.

  • http://wmute.livejournal.com wintermute

    Damn selfish Iraqi refugees, deserting those worse off in their country and voting with their feet. How dare they individually choose their own government and decide for themselves they’d rather have Assad than whoever the Hell we have running the place now. You don’t get to choose your own government as a mere individual. That decision must be made collectively.
    This from someone who refuses to emigrate to a libertarian paradise like Somalia, on the grounds that his existing government must instead conform itself to his wishes, and damn the fact that 99% percent of the population thinks that would be a disaster…

  • KnightHawk

    You do realize you’re a flaming idiot, right L? I mean, come on, immediate withdrawl is the desireable policy right now, but you want them to leave all their gear, or destroy it? Seriously, how can you not see how freaking insane that is?
    Frankly man, you’re the kind of guy who makes our side look bad. Like a liberal Scottbot.
    Love. Peace. Metallica.

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    There was an article in the Post last week (two weeks ago?) about how the National Guard and Reserve units that are lucky enough to be stateside can’t do live-ammo training any more, because most of the ammunition is in Iraq/Afghanistan. Even some police agencies that use similar caliber side arms to the military are experiencing shortages. Last election cycle, the big news was that there was a shortage of things like armored vehicles in Iraq, which is why the troops were jury-rigging like crazy to stay safe. For some reason, that dropped out of the news once the election was over, but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t because there aren’t shortages there anymore. I’m sure it’s classified what percentage of the military hardware is actually over there, but I’m fairly certain for some items it’s greater than 50%.
    We can’t afford to destroy/leave behind munitions and vehicles. We need to get out and go home, but we need to ‘take our toys’ with us–not leave them for the bullies we’ve created to play with.

  • damnedyankee

    Plus, little military trivia here: The exact composition of the armor of and M1 Abrams tank is classified. While I was working in a support platoon for a tank company in Germany, two of them got into the heavy armored vehicle equivalent of a fender bender, and the soldiers present literally had to throw blankets over the damage to prevent anyone from getting a look at what was coming out of the crack in the armor.
    So leaving those behind isn’t an option for the army.

  • Ursula L

    It may not be an option the army likes – but it is an option. Classification is something the US creates, but not something that is a law of nature, making breaking it an impossibility. If a rule is made, the rule can be changed, if that is the right thing to do.
    And given the moral and ethical mess we’re in just being there, I’m not sure how high “keeping the army happy” should be on the priorities when fixing the mess.

  • Ecks

    I don’t know that it necessarily makes that much practical difference re: non-escalating if we ditch all materiel and leave tomorrow vs. fly everything out over 6 months. It wouldn’t take long to withdraw from the heavily populated areas, and then if the locals can see things being flown/driven out in a steady stream, they’d have a pretty good idea what was happening.
    In any event it’s not like they’d be taking all those tanks back to the states. I heard from a reasonably credible source once that the US army in peace time essentially has 3 sets of tanks. One in the US, one in Europe, one in the middle east. It’s faster to train new tank crews in a war than build new tanks. They wouldn’t be flying *everything* back to the states, they’d be redeploying a bunch of it to Saudi Arabia, etc.
    Plus I’m sure there are a few places where some remaining armed presence helps, though even in those few spots, a withdrawal to classic peace keeper type duties would really be the thing.

  • http://cjmr.livejournal.com cjmr

    Actually, I don’t think they’ll be redeploying anything to Saudi Arabia. AlQaeda got what it wanted, there. We don’t have bases in Saudi Arabia any more. (Or at least we officially don’t have bases in Saudi Arabia any more.) They could park some stuff in Kuwait, though.

  • cjmr’s husband

    Kuwait only has 6000 square miles of kitty litter, we couldn’t possibly park everything there…

  • indifferent children

    I also find the “You break-it, you bought-it.” analogy to be not only an ill-match for this situation, but rather obscene. How about this one, instead, “I raped her. Now she’s pregnant; I guess I have to marry her. What’s that? She hates my guts and never wants to lay eyes on me again? Well the little lady is just going to have to acquiesce to my manly superpower status.”
    They don’t want us there, and we aren’t making their lives better. It’s going to be ugly when we leave, but the longer we stay, the uglier it’s going to be when we finally leave.

  • damnedyankee

    Classification is something the US creates, but not something that is a law of nature, making breaking it an impossibility.

    You’ve obviously never dealt with the military. ;-)
    Urban legend of an army leadership test for officers: You have a ten foot flagpole, three feet of rope, a flag, and a sergeant, and two privates as resources. Your objective is to get the flag on top of the pole. What do you do?
    Correct answer: Hand it all to the sergeant and say: “Sergeant, get this flag on top of the pole.”
    If the army wants something done logistically, it generally gets done. Of course, logistical impossibilities, like “pacify Iraq with 130,000+ soldiers”, are entirely another matter.
    But moving equipment? Hell, that was what I did 99% of the time when I was in the field.

  • Ecks

    Well to be completely fair SOME of them want us there. Not so much the Sunni’s, but some other factions are scared of us leaving. But a majority? I’m not so sure.
    I think the “broke it, own it” think applied quite well immediately after the invasion. We’d gone and smashed their infrastructure up good and proper, so it was on us to help them back to their feet again. But at some point it’s time to realize that fixing the broken lamp is one thing, but moving an army of smelly relatives into the basement to set up a self-propagating lamp shop is ridiculous and unwelcome overkill… especially if the original lamp still doesn’t work so well after 3 years of work, and you keep putting new dents in the wall going up and down the stairs.
    What are analogies for, I ask you, if not to be beaten mercilessly to breaking point :)

  • http://www.johnnysstew.com/cool/coolwet.html J

    “…should not be given quite as much weight in this discussion as the opinion of the very serious Michael O’Hanlon or the other York Hardings who, after all, have visited Iraq several times.”
    Bravo, Fred. Everyone here is aware that I’m something of a Quiet American fanatic. But I have to say this is the most York Harding-esque war ever. If the QA were written today, Greene would have called York Harding something like “Tim Freedman” as a send-up of Thomas Friedman, who is easily the most recognizable inheritor of York Harding’s fictional crown.
    The parallels go on of course; right now everyone is crowing about the miraculous “third force” in Iraq, chuckling at criticisms that these are barbarous people we’ve befriends, “Yes, they’re monsters, but they’re our monsters.” As if that kind of thinking ever ends well. As if all mad dogs don’t eventually bite their owners’ hands.
    The only missing parallel with The Quiet American is that there is no erotic connection between Americans/British and Iraqis. At least Pyle and Fowler were both nominally good to Phuong. The nearest we’ve come to that so far is Ilsa the She-Wolf, er, sorry, Lynddie England.

  • damnedyankee

    The nearest we’ve come to that so far is Ilsa the She-Wolf, er, sorry, Lynddie England.

    And here I thought the role of Ilsa was being played by Ann Coulter.

  • Nenya

    The other thing about “we broke it, we bought it” is that, seeing how our breaking was the result of gross incompetence, negligence, and total cluelessness–what makes us think we would be able to fix what we broke?

  • Ursula L

    Actually, I don’t think they’ll be redeploying anything to Saudi Arabia. AlQaeda got what it wanted, there.
    It seems as if the official US response to 9/11 is surrender to Al Qaeda’s demands – war between the Islamic world and the west, removal of bases from Saudi Arabia, etc.

  • ako

    I also find the “You break-it, you bought-it.” analogy to be not only an ill-match for this situation, but rather obscene. How about this one, instead, “I raped her. Now she’s pregnant; I guess I have to marry her. What’s that? She hates my guts and never wants to lay eyes on me again? Well the little lady is just going to have to acquiesce to my manly superpower status.”
    That’s a horribly apt analogy. One of the first things to do to make up for hurting someone is stop hurting them. Afterwards, when you’ve stopped, you can worry about atoning or “fixing” things. I don’t know what, if anything the US can do to fix the situation in Iraq, or help it, or even reduce the harm. I do think stopping that thing we’re doing which makes it worse is important, and pushing external “fixes” based entirely on foreign ideas of what we think they should be like (“You must be a democracy, but you can’t elect any radical Islamic politicians, and here’s the official definition of radical that we’ve created which we won’t let you choose since we know what’s good and bad for you) are unlikely to do much good.
    I also think, as far as infrastructure and standard of living and all, any aid we offer on that front is more likely to be accepted and less likely to provoke hostility when we get American soldiers off the streets, and don’t have Fox News (the unofficial propaganda arm of the Bush Administration) wandering around turning every painted schoolroom and house with running water into an example of Why the Invasion is Good For Iraq. Remove the obvious paternalistic symbolism, and it’s a lot harder to get people up in arms against functioning electricity.

  • JAY1937

    Thank God she’s alive…I’ve been wondering and hoping she was alright after seeing your mention some weeks back…in May, I think it was.

  • JAY1937

    errr…Riverbend, that is.


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