The general lack of attention US policy has given to the huge numbers of refugees from the conflict in Iraq has attracted some notice. This New York Times article on pressure to fudge the numbers on the number of Iraqis returning home hints at perhaps one reason why the humanitarian hawks don’t actually care about refugee well-being:
A United Nations survey released last week, of 110 Iraqi families leaving Syria, also seemed to dispute the contentions of officials in Iraq that people are returning primarily because they feel safer.
The survey found that 46 percent were leaving because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security.
Failing to provide for refugees, in short, drives returns to Iraq which helps bolster bogus arguments about improving conditions and thus bolster support for the war. It’s win-win, unless you’re an Iraqi refugee or an American citizen. Meanwhile, the returnees are re-enforcing the patterns of ethnic cleansing that seem to have been the primary drivers behind the decline in violence:
Underscoring a widely held sense of hesitation, many of those who come back to Iraq do not return to their homes. Clambering off the bus on Sunday, a woman who gave her name as Um Dima, mother of Dima, said that friends were still warning her not to go back to her house in Dora, a violent neighborhood in south Baghdad. So for now, she said, she will move in with her parents in southern Iraq.
That seems like a smart move for Um Dima. Am I the only one who remembers, though, that back in the summer/fall of 2006 this sort of thing — massive refugee flows and ethnic cleansing — was allegedly the reason we couldn’t leave Iraq? Withdrawal was supposed to have precisely the consequences that staying turned out to have, only staying has also impaired all kinds of other important American strategic objectives around the world.