Walter Pincus has a writeup today of a House hearing last Tuesday on what we should be doing about Iraqi refugees. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) remarked on the failure of the administration to help Iraqis who have worked for the Coalition as translators:
"I can't remember President Bush speaking about this refugee crisis or the need for the United States to respond aggressively to it except in passing," Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said.
As for the Iraqi translators, some 500 more of whom have signed up to seek visas, Ackerman said, "I don't understand why the administration isn't processing them . . . unless that was never their intention and all along they were willing to talk a good game but leave these people high and dry."
Then there's the Republican position, as presented by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.):
"They're wonderful people who'd like to live here, especially the ones who have helped us, but the last thing we want to do is to have people who are friendly to democracy . . . moving here in large numbers at a time when they're needed to build a new, thriving Iraq."
So Rep. Rohrabacher knows better than these Arabic-speaking, living-in-Iraq Iraqis what's best for them. And, as it happens, what's best for them is to stay in the hellish maelstrom of violence that is Iraq, despite the stated views of these folks themselves. Somehow the foolish idea has gotten into their heads that they're owed something for having put their lives on the line, day in and day out, to assist the Coalition. In fairness to Rep. Rohrabacher, he's offering them something: the right to help salvage the grandiose political science theories of men like Rohrabacher. And for that, we should be sure they'll be eternally grateful.
My colleague Malou Innocent had a piece on the plight of Iraqis who've aided the Coalition back in December. Give it a read and see if Rohrabacher's position doesn't become all the more uncomfortable.