A couple things in the papers caught my eye. From the LA Times, Iraqi Refugees Find U.S. Life Not What they Expected:
Her husband had disappeared in the war. Her request to settle in Jordan had been denied. Now an advisor from the International Organization for Migration was telling her no U.S. firm would recognize her law degree or her nearly two decades of experience.
In a month, the 51-year-old woman was due to leave for Portland, Ore. In the hushed room, she protested helplessly, “I am a lawyer. What else can I do?”
Two of Shifa’s brothers were shot to death in the streets. In May 2005, gunmen in a speeding car seized her husband as he left for work at an electronics import firm. Shifa watched from a window. It was the last time she saw him.
To pay a $150,000 ransom, she sold the new home they had been building. But she did not get her husband back. She spent months scouring police stations, hospitals and morgues, studying hundreds of pictures of corpses, battered, burned and riddled with drill holes.
“I even went to the trash dump to see if his body was there,” she said.
Six years of war have produced an estimated 2 million Iraqi refugees. Jordan and other neighboring countries have been overwhelmed. Refugee advocates have long pressed the United States to take in a greater share.
This year, the U.S. has pledged to admit 17,000 Iraqis, a huge increase over the 202 permitted in 2006.
Anyway, it’s a good article. It’s nice to keep up to speed on the story that’s hardly covered in the news anymore.
I particularly liked this letter to the editor in the Washington Post, probably mostly because it agrees with what I’ve been saying all along:
I find reporting in The Post on Iraq generally balanced and of high quality, but occasionally it disappoints. The Aug. 20 front-page article “Iraq Carnage Shows Sectarian War Goes On” was misleading.
It is true that in 2006, al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremists came close to igniting a sectarian war in Iraq, but they failed. Their failure — and the failure of all extremists in Iraq — was due in large measure to the revulsion they faced from society at large.
Iraq has moved on, but the terrorists haven’t. They demonstrated last week that they can kill, maim and cause destruction. But they have singularly failed to cause “sectarian war.” There is no evidence that any such war is possible in Iraq. That is because Iraq’s communities are both aware of the dangers of such a war and because it goes against their values and traditions.
Explaining such wanton violence as we saw last Wednesday in terms of sectarian conflict is easy, but it is wrong, based on a superficial, one-dimensional understanding of the struggles going on in Iraq. Shiites were not the only ones to fall victim, but Sunnis, working side by side with their Shiite colleagues, were equally targeted and fell victim.
In addition, when referring to the Iraqi government, journalists need not always attach the prefix “Shiite-dominated.” We Iraqis find this offensive. Why not use the name “National Unity Government,” the name that the Iraqi government actually goes by, instead?
The bottom line is that the Iraqi people, by virtue of their sheer resilience and traditional values, will confound both the terrorists and the writers of “sectarian war” scenarios.
Embassy of Iraq
And thirdly, this non-strictly-Iraq-focused blurb on Alternet about Blackwater cum Xe:
Scahill, who has written a popular book about Blackwater, had scathing comments about the organization, calling it “Erik Prince’s Christian supremacist fighting force to eliminate Muslims and destroy Islam globally, and then they bill taxpayers again for this killing that they’re doing and they’re not held to the same standard as soldiers.”
“There are Iraqi and Afghan people that are forced to face down against them, when, I’m sorry, the U.S. Congress does nothing to stop it,” he continued, “and journalists have done nothing to hold the White House accountable now, Chuck, or under Bush. This has not been an issue and yet it constitutes more than half of the fighting force in Afghanistan.”
Scahill singled out Todd, a fellow panelist on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher”, for not taking the issue more seriously. “Chuck, you called it political cat-nip to talk about the CIA and Cheney’s role in this, because it distracts from the important issues,” he said. “This is a central issue and you called it cable cat-nip.”