Alleviating the suffering we helped unleash


I've been thinking about what responsibility Americans, as instigators of the war in Iraq, have to hundreds of thousands of refugees from that conflict. More particularly, I've been thinking about what responsibility we Christians who supported the war have to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians now being systematically targeted for robbery, rape, and murder by Muslim thugs.

I also have been thinking about the shameful response of the politicians who led us into this war, who despite numerous warnings that toppling Saddam Hussein would lead to wholesale slaughter of Christians, and despite several years of reports detailing that persecution, allowed less than 5,000 Iraqi refugees into the United States during the first five years of the conflict. "If you want to make war, you have to protect the people," were the words of chastisement a Lebanese bishop issued to the United States after failing to win much American political or private support for Christian refugees in his own country.

Roughly 45,000 more Iraqis have been granted asylum in the United States in the past two and a half years, most of them under the Obama administration, but we are now witnessing a mass exodus of Christians from Iraq, and nobody seems to know what to do. The Iraqi prime minister urges Christians to stay, for the sake of diversity. A Christian leader in Britain urges them to leave while they still can. The French and Italians welcome victims of Muslim attacks; the Swedes take a page from the Chinese policy toward North Korean refugees and send them back.

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I've seen the former president hawking his new book, but I've not seen any announcement that he'll donate the profits to Iraqi Christians who suffered greatly as a result of the actions promoted-and inactions tolerated-by their fellow Christian. Every foreign policy omelet requires broken eggs and so on, but it would certainly be a nice gesture, akin to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's commitment to donate the profits from his forthcoming memoir to injured British troops.

What about the rest of us? I suppose we can pressure our elected officials to open the doors to more Iraqi Christians. And we can seek out and support organizations that try to help them, as well as other persecuted Christians. Perhaps as well we can pray for our brothers and sisters, and pray further that we will always remember the terrible, terrible cost of war.


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