Is the Iraq Refugee Crisis America's Responsibility?
Previously published on October 15, 2008
Since the 2003 US military invasion, the instability caused by the resulting insurgency has displaced around 4.7 million Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq according to Amnesty International's website (http://www.amnesty.org in a nation of around 30 million. Although violence continues to decline and oil revenues grow, even a strong, fully capable government, including the US government, would have difficulty meeting the demands of such a daunting humanitarian crisis.
Having failed to fully address the consequences of an underdeveloped and mismanaged military campaign, the United States shares responsibility for the needs of these people. On the other hand, the domestic economic failure and mounting global humanitarian crises limit America's ability to fulfill all of its responsibilities, but the situation also presents an opportunity for greater international cooperation.
The refugee crisis in Iraq began because the Bush Administration failed to recognize the removal of Saddam Hussein and post-invasion Debaathification policies would result in a power vacuum. With terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, various militias, including the Mahdi Army, and other insurgencies attempting to fill that vacuum, an oppressed Shi'ite majority and powerful Sunni minority began a vicious civil war as US troops attempted to referee the infighting. After years of long drawn out fighting, the 2007 US military surge, with assistance from the Sons of Iraq Awakening and a functional Iraqi military, has been able to decrease violence. Unfortunately, the Iraqi national government has yet been able to assert itself as a unified, national authority because of continued political infighting.
Until the Iraqi government is able to fully govern, it will be unable to address the refugee crisis among many other serious issues. As the United States has, to date, invested at least 700 billion dollars in Iraq and their leaders fail to lead, the Iraqi government certainty shares responsibility in their continuing domestic crises while oil revenues are capable of paying for part of domestic reconstruction.
America, therefore, must provide greater political and leadership support to help the Iraqi leadership resolve their internal conflicts and become a strong, effective governing body. Otherwise, the humanitarian crisis will inevitably go unresolved as new issues emerge while civil unrest will drive renewed violence.
Certainly, the Iraqi government cannot financially, or otherwise, cope with such a tremendous number of refugees on its own. On the other hand, the United States
must primarily concentrate on its own domestic issues as economies around world are suffering from the failures of unhealthy deregulation on Wall Street. Meanwhile, Europe
has been hit by the economic fallout as well, so there will certainly be less opportunity to address global humanitarian crises in a time when more help is needed. As a consequence, this means a more unified approach is necessary to address both economic and humanitarian crises while the international community must unite to alleviate the Iraqi refugee crisis as well as the destitution faced by the many poor throughout the world.
Through the cooperation of global leaders, the world community can address these serious economic issues as well as other interests. While financial sectors in the world's economies are driving the downward economic spiral, emerging and other sectors can help the world rebound. By focusing on technology and health care, for example, the world can address climate change, disease, hunger, and energy needs while rebuilding from the current economic disaster.
Furthermore, global efforts can also build and expand upon underdeveloped economies, such as Iraq, while only a unified effort can fully meet the demands of needy people. Cooperation in Iraq can help repair America's relationship with its global partners, free American resources so it can address the domestic economic failure sooner, and provide new opportunities for investors as well as global growth. Moreover, the refugee crisis in Iraq is the responsibility of America and Iraq; however, only a global response can properly address the problem.