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Hard to believe

November 28th, 2006

Writing in the LA Daily News, in a piece full of harrowing stories of flight from Iraq, Pamela Hartman states

The United States has not liberalized its refugee policy in response to the worsening crisis in Iraq. More than 1 million Iraqi refugees of all religious backgrounds have poured into Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In fiscal year 2006, just 202 Iraqi refugees were resettled in the United States.

The 1 million figure is broadly consistent with other estimates I’ve seen, but there’s no source for the amazingly low figure of 202 refugees. (If anyone can point to a data source that would be great.) I assume this excludes people like many of Hartman’s clients who’ve found some other route such as a family relationship, but that can’t change the fact that the US is ducking a central responsibility here.

Of course, the same is true in spades for Australia. At the same time as promoting the disastrous Iraq venture, many of our local warmongers have enthusiastically backed the view that we have no obligations to the refugees it has created, and are entitled to turn back any asylum-seekers who have not travelled here directly from Iraq (I’m sure that if any direct routes were feasible, a way would be found to block their use, so please don’t bother with legalistic defences of this disgraceful hypocrisy).

There’s no real way to salvage the disaster we’ve created in Iraq. But we must at least accept the responsibility of providing a haven to those fleeing the carnage we have created.

Update Judging by the comments, the pro-war view is that our obligations to take refugees extend only, or at least preferentially, to Christians.

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  1. November 28th, 2006 at 20:42 | #1

    An excellent point, John. Sure to go down a treat in the current hysterical anti-Muslim climate (not).

    It’s East Timor and Afghanistan all over again isn’t it? We go in half-assed and clueless, then tell people they do not qualify for refugee status because Dept. Immigration says there is no – repeat no – security problem in their homeland.

    It’s faith-based politics in trumps: as long as we believe we are doing the right thing, the reality-based disastrous consequences don’t matter. As long as we keep saying everything is fine, it must be so.

    I DO believe in fairies, I DO believe in fairies…!

  2. Factory
    November 28th, 2006 at 22:18 | #2

    I was pretty erm, amazed that so few ppl have commented on those that were so vocal that Iraq and Afghanistan were hell on earth, yet who also claim that the asylum seekers were not refugees (and prolly terrorists).

  3. MichaelH
    November 28th, 2006 at 22:30 | #3

    Well based on past responses, we can expect the Govt’s response to new Iraqi refugees to be – F*** off!.

  4. November 28th, 2006 at 23:42 | #4

    Again, for anyone interested (and I seem to be having trouble getting these notes even appearing in ‘comments’ anywhere. Paranoid? Nah, just experienced.) it is very interesting to see what the foreign minister says on our behalf:

    http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=2102

    It seems it’s those Islamists again, but only the un-cooperative ones of course. The ones that embrace our Wal-Mart free economy are just ‘Tickety-Boo’.

    Buk buk.

  5. November 29th, 2006 at 01:43 | #5

    There is almost invariably a refugee crisis in the midst of, or following, a war. Years after Gough Whitlam approved of the liquidation of the East Timorese – Gough is a hero to the Australian left, by the way – we are still grappling with the fallout, human and political. More successful was the treatment of the Vietnamese refugees, despite Gough not wanting them in this country under any circumstances. Now we have Iraq. The successful overthrow of a murderous tyrant – an overthrow opposed by the “peace” movement – has been followed by extreme difficulty caused by terrorists. Anti-war critics have a solution: abandon all of these people and millions of others to terrorists.

  6. Alan
    November 29th, 2006 at 06:13 | #6

    Brandishing a copy of Wisden would improve their chances.

  7. November 29th, 2006 at 06:54 | #7

    I talked to an Iraqi christian cleric when i was in brisbane a few months back and he told me that the government has given assurances to the iraqi churches that they will facilitate the entry of christian iraqi’s into the country. I don’t know if this is just a rumor. but if i was a journalist i would investigate if the government favors christian refugees over muslim refugees from iraq.

  8. November 29th, 2006 at 08:05 | #8

    C.L.

    “extreme difficulty caused by terrorists…”

    Oh pu-lease! You are spouting the Bush line in spades. Here’s Dubya today:

    “There’s a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented, in my opinion, because of the attacks by Al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal[s].”

    Spin, spin, spin. But spin is not going to win a war. As Josh Marshall says, “that’s sort of like the president saying not to blame the Katrina debacle on him when it was mainly the hurricane’s fault.

    The Times piece does a pretty good job explaining how everyone in the military and intelligence circles now agrees that ‘al Qaida’ (whatever that means in Iraq exactly) is not the real issue in what’s happening. But to the president, it’s still us versus al Qaida. Possibly with outside support from Dr. Evil and KAOS. I really never thought this country could be run for a significant period of time by a president who seems captive of dingbat conspiracy theories and the strategic complexity of a children’s bedtime story.”

  9. November 29th, 2006 at 10:19 | #9

    John, a bit rough on the US mate. They take in more immigrants than any other country on the planet and again, a couple of the comentators above show their complete ignorance of the US. The entire reason that the US approach to immigration has tightened up is precisely because their lack of scrutiny is what terrorists took advantage of in the first place in the lead-up to 9/11! I know a bit about US immigration practices having lived there for 5 years on a visa (which I had to renew otherwise I would have been kicked out) and it doesn’t matter if you are a Christian, Jewish, secular, muslim or a believer in fairies at the bottom of the garden, it is a tough process to even get a work visa! Even if you are married to an American, it can be a very long wait for a visa. Again, let us look at the facts instead of resorting to another (yawn) anti-Bush tirade.

  10. derrida derider
    November 29th, 2006 at 11:16 | #10

    Matt, I think you’ve just made John’s point. His point is that we, and the US, have a moral obligation *not* to make it the usual “tough process” for these people.

  11. wilful
    November 29th, 2006 at 11:32 | #11

    Anti-war critics have a solution: abandon all of these people and millions of others to terrorists.
    WTFnF?? What kind of idiocy is that statement? Precisely 100% the opposite of John Quiggin’s point.

  12. jquiggin
    November 29th, 2006 at 11:33 | #12

    Correct, DD. And, to the extent that the post contained a tirade, it wasn’t against Bush but against hypocritical Australians who claim we are fighting for freedom for the Iraqis, then lock the door against them.

    CL, you’re correct that most wars are followed by refugee crises, and correct in your criticism of Whitlam. Am I correct in inferring that you support a large-scale refugee intake for those fleeing the terror in Iraq?

  13. Ros
    November 29th, 2006 at 12:44 | #13

    Australia is amongst the few nations that is doing much in the way of Iraqi refugee resettlement (HRW), along with New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden and Canada. The numbers are small however.

    Nearly all of the refugees in Syria and Jordan are not classified as refugees, and not many more are classified as asylum seekers. The US only recommenced Iraqi refugee resettlement in April 2005. However Muslim entry to the US is taking off. 96,000 became legal permanent residents in 2005, more than any other year in the last 2 decades. 40,000 were admitted to the US last year, the highest annual number since the terrorist attacks. As however the US has over 60 types of non-immigrant (non-permanent) US visas, so it is very hard to work out how many from where are entering. The US is the nation which has had the greatest percentage increase in new migrants since 2003 and migrants now make up 12.4% of their population. The US is taking on board a lot of the world’s people.

    The emigration or flight of Iraqis is more complex than just a question of resettling refugees. Lebanon too is hurting by the exodus of its professional classes, again, but Lebanon is looking at how to compensate for this exodus. The central government in Iraq goes on squabbling and fighting.

    Some of the emigration from central and western Iraq is to Kurdistan. In Suleimaniah alone, from June to September 2006 as many as 1000 Sunni and Shia Arab families moved to live in the city, joining 7500 Arab workers who’ve had turned up looking for work. The migration to Kurdistan has included numbers from most of the professional groups. Then there are those coming from Syria and Lebanon (very small numbers as yet) of those unable to make it to the US or Australia, the countries of choice apparently. If the US and Australia or the few European countries taking Iraqis cherry pick the best educated, Iraq is done no favours. While Kurdistan has not as yet developed programs for the return of Iraqis, they are thinking about it, and they should get assistance to do so. Calls for Iraqis to replace other refugees from around the globe is unfair to the many and not a gain for Iraq long-term.

    Kurdistan of course has problems, including the Iraqi central government allocating less than half of the revenue percentage that is owed to the Kurdistan region. Stupid or indifferent but a bad move. But the contrast is awesome, Austrian Airlines are about to start regular commercial flights in December, which in 2007 will be into the new aiport. 370 companies including 50 from Germany and 24 from Italy just attended a four day conference this month. New universities with international involvement. But they need skilled Iraqis, and even if those who have left can’t return to their homes, a return to Kurdistan is a winner for Iraq.

    That Kurdistan is addressing issues such as smoking, ads now banned, or a Kurdish charity provides a team of bomb disposal personnel to assist with the cluster bomb removal in Lebanon, versus the madness that is Baghdad is like they are in different universes. Return to the north makes sense and should be supported, financially as well as socially. The US taking some more of the huge numbers of the diaspora in the ME might make people feel good but would achieve very little.

    Christians and especially Christian women are particularly targeted in Iraq. The Mandaean, who are moving in some numbers to the north, are looking to migrate en mass from Baghdad to Kurdistan and are talking to the KRG about making that move. The Christians of the Nineveh Plains are looking at being annexed to Kurdistan. The Christians are trying to look after themselves, so why not Christian Iraqis to Australia. And if it was OK for Gerry Hand to deliberately recruit Muslims for migration to Australia what is wrong with additional consideration being given to Iraqi Christians.

  14. November 29th, 2006 at 12:56 | #14

    gandhi puts the left’s view: there is no terrorism in Iraq.

    Also: BusHitler responsible for hurricanes.

    Wisdom from the “reality-based” community.

  15. rabee
    November 29th, 2006 at 12:56 | #15

    ” And if it was OK for Gerry Hand to deliberately recruit Muslims for migration to Australia what is wrong with additional consideration being given to Iraqi Christians.”

    We’re not talking about migration here Ros, we’re talking about accepting refugees.

    It would of course be reprehensible should we start targeting migrants based on the religious sect they happen to have been born into.

  16. November 29th, 2006 at 13:01 | #16

    Am I correct in inferring that you support a large-scale refugee intake for those fleeing the terror in Iraq?

    The Christians are trying to look after themselves, so why not Christian Iraqis to Australia. And if it was OK for Gerry Hand to deliberately recruit Muslims for migration to Australia what is wrong with additional consideration being given to Iraqi Christians.

    Indeed.

  17. observa
    November 29th, 2006 at 13:11 | #17

    Simplistic nonsense from Professor Quiggin to hide from the more complex horns of his own dilemma. After all, for those who always knew deep down, Saddam was the best option for these people, that had it’s own ugly ramifications. Now a true conservative would have said, we can’t help these people and cultures by interfering militarily, or even with economic sanctions, which totalitarian regimes/elites can simply visit upon their already downtrodden populaces. No, a true conservative would know that these people must ‘evolve’ and ‘sort themselves out’in their own good time and that we must not be complicit in any economic, ethnic or theocratic cleansing going on. No, push them back across their borders to work it all out in their own good time, while ‘we’ more evolved types set the shining example for them to emulate. Well apart from a bit of motion passing and tutt-tutting in the usual international fora that is. No doubt about it at present. From Iraq to Afghanistan, East Timor, the Solomons, Fiji, etc, a true Australian conservative would be shaking his head knowingly at those who would cherry pick some or all of their favourite military ‘beacons of light’from among them. As for those who would dare suggest adding more like the Sudan, wise conservatives would be rolling about the floor in hysterics at the thought, were it not so bloody serious.
    That’s the problem for leftist liberal progressives like John Quiggin and Christian liberal progressives like George Bush now. The truth is out. We are all conservatives now by sheer weight of evidence on the ground. But for the leftists, they will never forgive these Christians for tearing down one of their great shibboleths in Iraq. It seems all men are not equal given the same opportunity to pick up the baton and run with it, not that you had to tell women that about the ME. Now if that’s the case for certain cultures in the ME, then it is certainly the same case for them in Western Sydney naturally enough. Besides there’s far too much uncovered cat meat there to indulge any more liberal progressive fantasies.

  18. frankis
    November 29th, 2006 at 15:53 | #18

    Some interesting material there Ros but no it doesn’t sound as though it would have been alright for Gerry Hand to do what you say he did. There, that was easy.

    Observa: … the (not too huge) bit that made sense in that rave did make some sense, congrats I guess. Seems a bit rude calling the thoughts of your favourite pundit “simplistic nonsense” but if you can live with yourself I think Prof Q will be happy not to make too much of an example to others of you, too.

  19. jquiggin
    November 29th, 2006 at 17:36 | #19

    All very convincing, observa, except that you could make exactly the same claims about Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Israel/Palestine, ex-Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland, thereby implicating all the major world religions. Given the right (or wrong) circumstances, people will fight among themselves regardless of their cultural background.

    A more plausible version of the conservative viewpoint is one that accepts that intervention in the affairs of foreign countries is always a high-risk option, to be adopted only as a last resort and subject to strict conditions (roughly, those of Colin Powell), without resorting to pseudo-Darwinian simplistic nonsense about “evolution” and similar.

  20. Don Wigan
    November 29th, 2006 at 21:56 | #20

    Relativism is all very well CL, but seeing Gough had already been removed from office before the Indonesian attacks I find it hard to follow how it was all his fault. Are you implying that Suharto was waiting on Gough’s blessing before deciding to attack? And that he didn’t then pause to test the new OZ political waters, if they were relevant to his aims?

    I know Gough made some statement to the effect that East Timor would be better off following the Goa path (incorporating into India), but added the qualifier that the East Timorese had to agree to it.

    In Suharto’s shoes, I’d have thought the US govt blessing would’ve been a lot more important, especially with his dependence on military hardware and support.

  21. observa
    November 29th, 2006 at 23:11 | #21

    “A more plausible version of the conservative viewpoint is one that accepts that intervention in the affairs of foreign countries is always a high-risk option, to be adopted only as a last resort and subject to strict conditions…”
    Perhaps John you’d like to enlighten us as to the last resorts and strict conditions that apply to such diverse interventions as Iraq, Afghanistan, ET, PNG, Tonga, Solomons and Fiji most recently? I’ll look forward to seeing the wisdom of the gods, chiselled in stone, for all concerned liberal progressives to be guided by, now and in future. The Golden Rule seems to be- Thou shalt not stick thy nose in other peoples’ troubles, not least because they won’t appreciate thou for it. Overwhelmingly now, we have to deal sensibly and pragmatically with the Saddams, Castros, Ahmadinejads, Jong Ils, (Noriegas?),Mugabes, etc. No more fretting over Rwandas and Darfurs and it follows logically that we should not allow these people to dump their problems on us. After all, it would be a stroll in the park for all Stalinist thugs and their regime’s longevity if we simply acquiesced to them ‘cleansing’ their ‘problems’ into our backyards. (Remember Saddam opening the jails as the COW advanced?)Basically they also serve, who simply acquiesce in such cleansing. Mind you, that’s not something these moral giants want you to dwell on too much.

    Now I didn’t raise pseudo-Darwinian nonsense about Iraq, but have pointed out how leftist critics have often walked that fine ‘monkey country’ line. Well at least about Iraq they have, but not the graveyard of empires, for some inexplicable double twist and pike of their logic. They can spot a good ‘monkey country’ a mile away, unlike those dimwits Bush and Blair. Now Afghanistan, that really had nation building potential, if only those dimwits had seen the boundless possibilities.

    The bottom line now, is that all our well meaning interventions are looking decidedly suspect, except perhaps Iraq, peculiarly enough. Oh I don’t mean for ordinary Iraqis, the majority of whom probably wanted some decent peace and quiet after Saddam. Truth is they have failed to pick up that baton and run with it and it looks increasingly like full blown civil war now. That was ultimately their choice however, although it has it’s roots in the schism of Islam, which has brought in other players around them. For a while there I was somewhat pessimistic about where defeat for a veacon of light in Iraq would lead, but now I’m not so sure. Neither are Iran and Syria now if I read the tea leaves correctly. The Anglos are preparing to leave Iraq, because there’s not much point in hanging about refereeing a Sunni Shia war. You get the distinct impression Syria and Iran are suddenly getting nervous about that and well they should. We like the Kurds, may be quietly applauding as Islam turns inwards on itself and tears itself apart. That of course could have been forseen in the Iraq venture as Default Plan B. A luxury that the rooters for UN intervention in Afghanistan, may have overlooked. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the chances of Islam turning on itself are better than 50/50 now, say 60/40. Sunni or Shia, who really wants them here, even if they’re on the losing side? I’d bet my wages over 80% of Australians wouldn’t and rightly so. Islam, all too often spells trouble nowadays.

  22. Nabakov
    November 30th, 2006 at 04:08 | #22

    Observa unplugged.

    “I have no idea what I’m arguing for anymore but if those lefties are for it then I’m against it, whatever it is.”

  23. conrad
    November 30th, 2006 at 07:08 | #23

    “We, like the Kurds, may be quietly applauding as Islam turns inwards on itself and tears itself apart”

    Perhaps your view of the world is different to mine, but I find it hard to imagine that the Kurds would really agree to this statement, since it presumably includes themselves and another billion people or so that are not from countries that oppress them (like, say, Indonesia) that have nothing to do with the problems nor the type of problems in Iraq now.

  24. November 30th, 2006 at 15:53 | #24

    Conrad,
    Particularly as the Kurds, like the Darfuris and Albanians are also Muslims. Perhaps Observa meant the Arab and Persian ethnic groups.

  25. December 1st, 2006 at 01:57 | #25

    Another strong case for rescuing people reported here. The UN’s unrecoverable slide into moral disaster continues with its rape-crazed “soldiers” again busy – this time in Haiti and Congo.

  26. December 1st, 2006 at 01:59 | #26

    Haiti and Liberia, sorry.

  27. garhane
    December 1st, 2006 at 09:09 | #27

    Here I thought that the intellectual cast of Australia was from the unfortunates who were sent over there , some ways back, as a method of English control (“transportation”). But quite a few of these posters sound like English, in fact English landlords. Now these people were very definitely a bad lot— self important, greedy, unbelievably stingy and thick-as-a-brick bullies. Now here they are pretending to high falutin thoughts about immigrants. Yet it seems to be the same old story. They want cheap servants, real cheap, and faithful (means obedient) dutiful (means cowardly) and regular (means do not go on strike) workers. Of course that sort of candidate is almost bound to be just off the boat, I mean who else would put up with such employer and landlord swine. So we have the other side of this spectactularly two faced coin. The people who want cheap foreign labor also do not want the same foreigners roosting in Australia. It is too like the Ireland that used to be, where all flocked to Liverpool for seasonal jobs and then brought their unemployment back to Ireland when the season was over to the delight and comfort of the English commercial class who made money off the “Paddys” in Liverpool, and the Engllish landlords who made money off them again in Dublin (trust deeds to property safely lodged five stories down in the Bank). Was there not an English army officer, I think it was a McBride, who saw the activity on Easter Monday 1916 in Dublin and promptly joined the Republican Brotherhood. It makes you think. Well, he was a brave man for sure. And he very definitely knew who he was, and who he was not.

  28. December 1st, 2006 at 11:14 | #28

    As was reported in the media this week, at least one refugee Australia sent back to Iraq – after forcing him to remain separated from his wife and kids for over 3 years – has been killed. The Edmund Rice centre, who undertood the dangerous work of following in the footsteps of some ‘returnees’ has produced plenty of evidence of similar exmaples of deaths, arrests and people having to flee again. The two men we kept on Nauru for 5 years are both Iraqi.

    Our treatment of Iraqi refugees was outrageous when they were fleeing Saddam – yes that monster – so one could hardly expect it to be different now.

    Having said that, the word “refugee” has different meanings in different contexts – a point I think Ros (#13) was making at the start of her comment. People fleeing a civil war are rfefugees in the everyday sense of the word, but might not be refugees under the definition of the Refugee Convention. However, either way, they have legitimate humanitarian claims. The best way to deal with refugees of this sort is to ensure they are safe and secure, ideally in the near vacinity, and make their homeland as safe as possible as soon as possible, so they can go back as almost all of them would want to do. However, we seem to have helped encourage exactly the opposite to happen – we can’t bring all refugees to Australia of course, but large numbers of displaced, traumatised and pissed off is just going to add to regional instability.

    and while we can’t take them all, I think we do have an obligation to assist some of those most in peril – one group would be the Mandaens, as they have fewer genuinely safe places to go. That’s not in any way to validate some of the bigoted Muslim bashing in some of the comments people have made, or saying that Mandaens have more worth – just that they have fewer genuinely safe places to go, are small in number and thus particularly vulnerable (and also easier to help as a group) and have a stable community in Australia who will support them.

  29. December 3rd, 2006 at 01:00 | #29

    I agree with the sentiments expressed by Pr Q but would be happier if he did not use this occasion to engage in another bout of Howard-hatred.

    Pr Q SAYS:

    At the same time as promoting the disastrous Iraq venture, many of our local warmongers have enthusiastically backed the view that we have no obligations to the refugees it has created

    THis former war-monger is happy to have more Iraqi refugees whether Islamic or Christian. We are ducking a moral responsibility when we fail to redress a harm that we have had a part in spreading.

    Malcolm Fraser compares well with Gough WHitlam and John Howard. He took a lot of refugees from SE Asia after a foreign policy adventure went sour. And he did so when such generosity was not politically popular.

    Refugees from Iraq did not start with the most recent war there. Pr Q seems to be employing a Howard-hating double standard here. If Pr Q damns Howard for not taking more refugees now then he should have praised him a few years back when CoW liberation of Shiites in IRaq, and what-nots in Afghanistan, stemmed the refugee flows at source at that time. HOward is damned when he takes refugee outflows and he is damned when he doesnt take refugee inflows.

    many of our local warmongers have enthusiastically backed the view that we have no obligations to the refugees it has created, and are entitled to turn back any asylum-seekers who have not travelled here directly from Iraq

    Pr Q says:

    War-mongerers or Peace-slaverers should not rescind the successful Border Control policy. We should establish direct routes of sanctuary for Iraqis fleeing the havoc of ethnic sectarianism. We should not allow Open Borders to unauthorised vessels.

    Taking more Iraqis in does not excuse a resumption of the policy of winking at people sumgglers or licensing back door immigrants for political purposes, which was the policy of the Wets and ethnic lobbies this past generation. Otherwise we will see a return to the slaughter of innocents on the high seas, as occurred during the nineties before Mandatory Detention, Operation Relex and Pacific Solution put a stop to the dastardly traffic.

    Speaking of “disgraceful hypocrisy”, I would be happier still if a more liberal selection policy was associated with a stricter settlement policy. The more alien the ethnics we take in, the harder we should try to integrate them into the culture of modernity. ANd not pursue the vain and foolish philosophy of multiculturalism.

    But most Wets/ethnic lobbies would rather create endless Cronullas, Cabramattas and Lakembas etc than admit their civic philosophy is a tissue of nonsense. That civil philosophy encourages racism, sexism and sectarianism that is the stuff of civil war.

    THe Wets moral hypocrisy and sociological idiocy should cause them to hang their heads in shame. But I suppose for some people (not PrQ) developing a fine moral posture trumps doing good works. It would be nice for Pr Q to spell out his ideas on this instead of taking the path of least resistance for a liberal academic by having “no friends to the Right”.

    Pr Q says:

    There’s no real way to salvage the disaster we’ve created in Iraq. But we must at least accept the responsibility of providing a haven to those fleeing the carnage we have created.

    I would take issue with the notion that the CoW “created the disaster” in Iraq. THe CoW might have triggered this latest out break of violence in Mesopotamia. But it did not create it since sectarian violence is endemic if sporadic in this region. ivil War is the latent or default condition of most ME states. in the ME eg Algeria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria etc.

    Iraq appears to be the worst of a bad bunch, as evinced by the behaviour of Suunis to Kurds and SHiites when they had the whip hand. When the Baathists finally lost power it would have been on for young and old whether or not the CoW was the proximate cause.

    This civil war is the result of multi-ethnic nation of Islamic Arabians enjoying their freedom to nurse ancient grudges under conditions of multicultural democracy. THe underlying socio-biological conditions in Mespotamia created sectarian conflict.

    In-bred tribes tend to cluster into clans loyal to a local warlord rather than the nation state. THey also tend to believe in more primitive and sectarian versions of general religion. When they get the democratic freedom that most left liberals endorse in principle they use it to indulge in ethnic cleansing and battles of the cradle.

    Nothing AUstralia did made this conflict any worse. Indeed the ADF’s professionalism probably ameliorated it within its area of operation. But we could make the aftermath of the conflict better by opening our borders to Iraqis making a proper application.

  30. December 3rd, 2006 at 01:16 | #30

    Andrew Bartlett Says: a href=”http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2006/11/28/hard-to-believe/#comment-96375″>December 1st, 2006 at 11:14 am

    Our treatment of Iraqi refugees was outrageous when they were fleeing Saddam – yes that monster – so one could hardly expect it to be different now.

    Wrong. AUstralia’s treatment of SHiite refugees was fair and reasonable in most cases. For one thing we helped them get majority control of their country by helping to remove the “monster Hussein”. This stemmed the outflow of refugees for a while. But Howard must be damned if he does and damned if he doesnt.

    IN any case, AUstralia did take a fair number of Iraqi refugees through the nineties. About 10,000 according to this UN report. THis was about on a par with the Anglosphere average.

    And was prepared to take in 4,000 more in the early noughties before Iraq went from bad to worse. Not that facts make any difference to the Wets when their cherished Howard-hatred is at stake.

    Howard also put a stop to people smuggling which caused Middle Eastern refugees to be drowned in their hundreds, well before anyone had heard of TPVs or Pacific Solution. THe ethnic lobbies, ideologically supported by the Wets, encouraged this kind of traffic. It could only lead to the slaughter of innocents.

    Howard stopped the boats from coming which stopped the reffos from drowning. THe latter is the greater evil.

  31. December 3rd, 2006 at 01:31 | #31

    WOuld Pr Q care to comment on this report of the Coalition government validating the claims of 4000 iraqi refugees in 2004? It seems to poke a medium sized hole in his charge of callous indifference to refugee plight on the part of the coalition government.

    On a more general note, do facts make any difference at all to the Wets animus towards Howard’s social conservatism? Howard’s cultural policies reduced sexism and racism and sectarianism (national integration), saved lives (Border Protection), feed children (AWB) and encouraged tolerance for decent ethnics (economic NESB immigration). All this is in line with left-liberal ostensible support for Enlightenment modernism.

    One suspects that the Wets attitude towards Howard is on a par with socialists attitude towards capitalism, memorably summarised by Schumpeter:

    [Howardism] stands…trial before judges who have the sentence of death in their pockets. They are going to pass it, whatever the defense they may hear; the only success victorious defense can possibly produce is a change in the indictment.

  32. Dave Surls
    December 3rd, 2006 at 16:02 | #32

    “The United States has not liberalized its refugee policy in response to the worsening crisis in Iraq.”

    Yeah, we didn’t do that when our troops crossed the Rhine and invaded Germany in WWII either. Probably, because we weren’t entralled with the idea of letting zillions of potentialy hostile German refugees go traipsing all over America at the same time we were fighting against their countrymen.

    Go figure.

  33. jquiggin
    December 3rd, 2006 at 18:23 | #33

    Fine, Dave, you’ve made it clear that you regard the Iraqis as defeated enemies whose suffering is none of your problem. Not surprisingly, a lot of them have worked this out and take the same attitude with respect to the troops you and those like you have sent there with no idea of what to do once the Stars and Stripes went up in Baghdad. Of course, I imagine you’re safely tucked up in Mom’s basement in the USA like the rest of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, so that’s not your problem either.

  34. Dave Surls
    December 5th, 2006 at 05:18 | #34

    “Fine, Dave, you’ve made it clear…”

    …that I’m not too interested in providing Al Qaida terrorists and Baathist guerrillas with a ticket to the United States? Well, I thought I made it pretty clear, anyway.

    Only a leftist nitwit could propose what’s suggested in the thread header…with a straight face.

  35. jquiggin
    December 5th, 2006 at 08:03 | #35

    Touché, Dave! An incisive rebuttal.

    As long as you stay safely in the basement, the thousands of recruits your war has raised for Al Qaeda will (if you’re lucky) stay far away in the Middle East, along with the millions of innocent Iraqis your war has turned into refugees.

  36. frankis
    December 5th, 2006 at 11:42 | #36

    These little red wingnuts are spectacular aren’t they? Dave Surls, RWDB Legend, can’t seem to stay on even his own meme for the time it’d take a fella like GI Jack Lacton to nuke Baghdad. While dedicating himself to spreading democracy to Iraq through perpetual war, Dave Legend simultaneously denounces Iraqi emigrants as terrorists. Only those who stay to greet the wingnuts with flowers are not terrorists – it’s simple when ya get the moral clarity.

  37. Dave Surls
    December 5th, 2006 at 14:14 | #37

    “Al Qaeda will (if you’re lucky) stay far away in the Middle East”

    That’s the general idea all right.

    Hence, there will not be large numbers of Iraqi refugees being relocated to the United States anytime soon…at least not if people like me have anything to say about it.

  38. Katz
    December 5th, 2006 at 15:17 | #38

    Maybe the welcoming flowers and chocolates for Iraqis who can’t make it to the US can be delivered to Baghdad by Interflora instead.

  39. observa
    December 6th, 2006 at 23:17 | #39

    “I have no idea what I’m arguing for anymore…”
    Well Nabakov, I’m not particularly arguing for anything but pointing out some of the obvious contradictions of those that are banging a particular drum. The Beacon of Light for Iraq was always a (leftist?) liberal, progressive venture, whatever reservations you had/have about its implementation. It’s a bit like the ATSIC, aboriginal, self-determination thingy. You might doubt the sanity of the policy makers but not their good intentions. It always remained to be seen whether such policy was hopelessly naive or a brilliant undertaking, although we all need to discount the hoary excuses like- ‘well it coulda worked if only we had more resources’and such like. No, in the end we have to judge all well meaning efforts by results. I am suggesting we are all conservatives now(or should be) in this regard. However, for those who patiently await their pet ‘mission accomplished’ in places as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan, ET, etc, whilst pooh poohing, the missions of others, I would suggest that at least Iraq always had a logical Default Plan B discussed here-
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HL06Ak04.html
    I’d strongly suggest that’s something that the ‘graveyard of empires’, among others, never had and why Australia is reluctant to get involved with Fijian Bananaramas right now.

  40. December 7th, 2006 at 08:14 | #40

    The last two times AUstralian immigration authorities let in large numbers of immigrants from civil war-torn countries was in the 1975-85 period. Over that time both parties were heavily courting the ethnic vote so hundreds of thousands of Lebanese and Vietnamese immigrants were granted entry.

    Obviously in the case of the Vietnamese we had a moral responsibility to look after our former allies from South Vietnam fleeing communist dictatorship, ethnic cleansing and a generally bad scene. I have never got my head around the Australian governments obligation to take in dislocated or unhappy people from Southern Lebanon.

    We should definitely take in the (probably) Suuni refugees fleeing Shiite death squads bent on ethnic cleansing Baghdad. But we should be under no illusions that these people will be a seed-bed of good citizens. London is full of credible refugees who are all-to-keen to blow up their adoptive sanctuary.

    And I expect govt authority will turn a blind eye to that sort of thing when the Wets get back into the cultural policy saddle. Groan.

  41. Katz
    December 7th, 2006 at 09:44 | #41

    Observa Mark II

    “It always remained to be seen whether such policy was hopelessly naive or a brilliant undertaking, although we all need to discount the hoary excuses like- ‘well it coulda worked if only we had more resources’and such like.”

    But there used to be, the pearly days of new-born hope another Observa.

    Observa Mark I

    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2004/11/13/parkinsons-law/#comment-2030

    “First it was to be a quagmire in Afghanistan. After all look at the history of the place and what happened to the Russians? At the start of the Iraq war it was to be Stalingrad and millions of refugees. Then we were outrunning our supply lines in the push to Baghdad and it was time to pee our pants again. Then it was AlSadr who would turn the Shiite south into a quagmire. Now it’s a quagmire in Fallujah and it’s time to pull up stakes again.

    “All I’d say at present is, I’d rather be taking our casualties in the street-fight in Fallujah at the moment, than theirs. They, being a bunch of whacko fundies from all over the ME, coupled with the hardcore remnants of Saddam’s killing machine. If you haven’t got the stomach for this fight, perhaps you’d better get a bit of carpet and start practising bending over regularly. For the majority of us it’s a case of, whatever it takes and however long it takes.

    ” … To paraphrase a wise man recently- ‘We’ve knocked off all the dumb ones, now there’s only the smart ones to go.’”

    Whatever happened to Observa Mark I?

    He may have been a “weird dude” (as others were wont to observe), but I was braced by his martial grit and was touched by his stoical faith in the Good Guys.

    Whither grit?

    Whither faith?

  42. Hal9000
    December 7th, 2006 at 11:32 | #42

    “London is full of credible refugees who are all-to-keen to blow up their adoptive sanctuary.”

    None of the 7/7 bombers was a refugee. All were born-in-Britain British citizens except Germaine Lindsay who was born in Jamaica and moved to Britain as an infant. Do these ingrate refugee-bombers exist outside fevered imaginations fuelled by kids-overboard slanders?

    This is not a merely rhetorical question, since as Prof Q’s post notes and Dave Surls’s posts illustrate, the flint-hearted policy being adopted by the nations whose military adventure caused the refugees’ flight seems to be based on this racially-charged farrago of lies and bigotry.

  43. Nabakov
    December 7th, 2006 at 12:17 | #43

    And oh look, here’s obby extolling the BOL back in his presumably leftist days.

    “Now their beacon of light has been lit in Iraq and this Anglo believes it will shine even brighter in future.”

    Cutting and running now the going’s getting tough hey obby?

    And also, isn’t the whole point of being a refugee is that you’re escaping terror and violence not looking to start it somewhere else?

  44. James Farrell
    December 7th, 2006 at 12:57 | #44

    Do these ingrate refugee-bombers exist outside fevered imaginations fuelled by kids-overboard slanders?

    No, but Jack to his credit doesn’t pretend to have any other kind of imagination.

  45. sdfc
    December 7th, 2006 at 14:31 | #45

    “AUstralia’s treatment of SHiite refugees was fair and reasonable in most cases. For one thing we helped them get majority control of their country by helping to remove the “monster Husseinâ€?.”

    It seems Jack is back to supporting the war as part of his ongoing endeavours to re-brand Howard as the great humanitarian.

  46. Dave Surls
    December 7th, 2006 at 23:02 | #46

    “This is not a merely rhetorical question…”

    No, it’s merely an IDIOTIC rhetorical question, since pretty much ALL “Palestinian” splodeydopes/terrorists are refugees.

  47. December 9th, 2006 at 01:45 | #47

    James Farrell Says: December 7th, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Do these ingrate refugee-bombers exist outside fevered imaginations fuelled by kids-overboard slanders?

    No, but Jack to his credit doesn’t pretend to have any other kind of imagination.

    James, can you point to any place, in print or in pixel, where I have indicated that I believed Howard’s falsehoods on the Kids-overboard slander. If you can I will give you a $100.

    If not, will you kindly retract your slander against me on the subject of the SIEV aslylum-seeker episodes. Spreading false and malicious rumours about honest people does nothing for the reputation of academics supposed to be searching for the truth.

    More generally, if my imagination about the potential for civil unrest in a badly handled immigration policy is so “fevered” then what, pray tell, do you make of the London Bombings, Paris Burnings, Danish Bannings and Cronulla Bashings? Just coincidence I suppose? Or maybe some crank’s world model predicted this. Well we cant go around admitting that because that would mean our own expensively acquired ideological hood ornaments are a worthless pile of junk.

    Also, a word of friendly advise. Constantly trying to be the smart-arse makes you look more arse than smart.

    The truth is that I do not have a fevered-imagination about asylum-seekers. And I did not swallow Howard’s slurs against the “kids-overboard” SIEV crew.

    FWIW, I knew and acknowledged that Howard was lying in this, as in many other instances. I also did not think it was very nice or useful to bag asylum-seekers so much. Strict border control can and should be implemented in a professional, not political, way.

    But I was glad that Howard won the 2001 election and telling lies about asylum-seekers was not a deal-breaker. I justified Howards various abominations because they are Machiavellian in the national interest.

    Howard’s lie about “children overboardâ€? was in the National Interest because the LN/P were the best party to protect borders and stop people smuggling – a practice deadly to children onboard the SIEV’s.

    If there is a moral problem with this then there is a problem with Machiavellian nationalism. This should be dealt with before Howard and his luke-warm clear-eyed cheerleaders are consigned to Hell.

  48. December 9th, 2006 at 03:05 | #48

    sdfc Says:

    It seems Jack is back to supporting the war as part of his ongoing endeavours to re-brand Howard as the great humanitarian.

    No, I do not claim that Howard is a great humanitarian per se. Although he is certainly reducing the chances that Australia will suffer from ethnic sectarianism, as we see from overseas comparisons.

    I see him as a wily and effective proponent of Australia’s interest in cultural identity and national security issues. There is some overlap between this and pure humanitarian ethics.

    The war is a strategic disaster and ethical catastrophe. I wish it had never happened. I wish that all non-Muslim forces should just quit the region and let the Muslims fight amongst themselves, if thats what they want. In fact I wish I had never heard of Iraq. I wish.

    But Australia’s military role in the conflict is purely PR for the US alliance. The ADF has a token presence in Iraq, mainly involved in own-force protection. If it has had any effect it has probably been to dampen local sectarian strife, probably through the professionalism of the diggers.

    I am merely pointing out that Howard-haters want to have it both ways on the subject of Howard and refugees. They want to damn him when he does helps reffos and want to damn him when he doesnt.

    He helped to temporarily stem refugee outflows by ousting South West Asian tyrannies. His govt. has given some sanctuary to quite a few Iraqi refugees. His anti-people smuggling policies have reduced mass-drownings amongst asylum-seekers. These are inconvenient facts that spoil the Howard-as-monster caricature.

    et the Howard-haters never give him any credit for any of this. It is more psychologically satisfying to indulge in Howard-hatred than it is to applaud what good he may have done. Or to acknowledge the ambivalence that people might have about geo-political paradoxes and moral conundrums.

  49. James Farrell
    December 9th, 2006 at 22:57 | #49

    I retract the suggestion that you believed children were thrown overboard, though I can’t see that a sincere belief is any less creditable than the Machiavellian argument. Incidentally, are lies easier to jusify when they promote nationalist goals than internationalist ones?

    In any case, what Hal9000 was calling you on was the claim that refugees from current wars are likely to be terrorists. The London bombers were not refugees from anything. The rest of your catalogue concerns the link between immigration and unrest generally. What you’re really arguing is that, if a given asylum-seeker is statistically likely to breed children and granchildren with a propensity to participate in crime and riots, his application should be rejected irrespective of its merits. maybe you’re right, but it’s a bit hard to enshrine this principle in policy or legislation.

  50. sdfc
    December 10th, 2006 at 19:50 | #50

    Jack

    So rather than Howard the great humanitarian the refos should be eternally grateful to Howard the accidental hero. I look forward to your future attempts to rationalise this particularly disgraceful episode in our collective history.

  51. December 11th, 2006 at 18:01 | #51

    Hal9000 Says: December 7th, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Do these ingrate refugee-bombers exist outside fevered imaginations fuelled by kids-overboard slanders?

    False, not that a Wet would ever let an inconvenient fact get in the way of a politically useful fiction. I was never deceived by Howard’s lies as regards kids-overboard, although I did not regard this as a “deal-breaker” when it came to voting for him (once). Hal 9000 should retract false claims when unsupported by evidence.

    Hal 9000 says:

    None of the 7/7 bombers was a refugee.

    Not quite right. One of the London bombers did get in by using (bogus) refugee credentials.

    “”He changed his name to Osman Hussain when he arrived in London. He falsely declared he was a Somali citizen to obtain the status of political refugee and economic assistance more easily.”

    So the asylum-seeking system is open to exploitation by terrorist-minded crack-pots, especially when the guard is let down by people whose good intentions are not matched by common sense. This is a good enough reason to keep a close eye on asylum-seekers.

    Hal 9000 says:

    Prof Q’s post notes and Dave Surls’s posts illustrate, the flint-hearted policy being adopted by the nations whose military adventure caused the refugees’ flight seems to be based on this racially-charged farrago of lies and bigotry.

    Hal 9000 might try to keep his rhetoric-to-reality ratio down below the red zone if he wants to get a grip on the world. For a start Arabians are from the same race (Caucasians) as Europeans. The ratio of sectarian terrorists to the total asylum seeker population is likely to be higher than what a random sample of any given population would predict.

    A fairly large bit of anecdotal evidence supports this conclusion. The ideological seed-bed of Islamic sectarian terrorism in England seems to be in Londonistan where

    the granting of asylum in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to several Islamist militants…helped London acquire a reputation as a safe-haven for extremists and the nickname ‘Londonistan’.

    I have been to London twice recently and noticed plenty of refugees from various Islamic wars are hanging out there. Their rhetoric, egged on by Ken Livingstone and some of their leadership, leads me to suspect that some of them are more likely to abuse the freedom granted to them by the Mother of Parliaments.

    Experts on international terrorism say the heartland of violent Islamic extremism is now none of the official fronts of the war on terror. They say its center is Western Europe — mainly, but not exclusively, Britain, which granted asylum to a stream of Muslim militants during the 1990s and where the tradition of freedom of expression that once sheltered Karl Marx has now extended to the widespread, and very open, cause of jihad.

    After all, both Lenin and Khomeni were asylum-seekers of sorts. Although alternative government-in-exile would probably be a better description. So not all refugees have their sanctuary’s best interest at heart.

    We should let the more Suunis and Shiite asylum-seekers in as refugees to Australia. We owe it to them since we gave them democratic freedom when their country was clearly not willing or able to use it wisely. Even a Wet would agree that, in this case, despotic tyranny was better than democratic anarchy.

    But we should not kid ourselves that all asylum-seekers are all likely to be model citizens of a liberal democracy. Going by past experience, abroad and at home, there is likely to be quite a few ratbags amongst them who will need to be carefully screened and watched.

    “Be alert, not alarmed” as the wise man says.

  52. December 11th, 2006 at 18:55 | #52

    James Farrell Says: December 9th, 2006 at 10:57 pm


    I retract the suggestion that you believed children were thrown overboard,

    Thankyou, although you might try mixing a little contrition with correction. It does the soul no end of good.

    James Farrell says:


    The London bombers were not refugees from anything.

    One of the London bombers was a bogus refugee. “Londonistan” is full of refugees with some pretty serious sectarian axes to grind (see above). Be accurate, for a change.


    Hal9000 was calling you on was the claim that refugees from current wars are likely to be terrorists.

    Hal 9000 couldn’t call a one horse race. His brain is paralysed by the powerful neuro-toxins of political correctness.

    I did not say that all “refugees from current wars are likely to be terrorists”. There is a subtle distinction between “some are likely” and “all are definitely”. It is a fact that those refugees flowing from South West Asia are more likely to be unruly than typical refugees eg those from conflicts that pre-dated the ascension of the Wets to political heaven eg the WWII Displace Persons.

    One reason for this is that contemporary refugees are all doused in multicultural oxymoronism when they step off the boat. After which they are ready to believe anything, as a visitor to Finsbury Park could testify.

    James Farrell says:

    The rest of your catalogue concerns the link between immigration and unrest generally. What you’re really arguing is that, if a given asylum-seeker is statistically likely to breed children and granchildren with a propensity to participate in crime and riots, his application should be rejected irrespective of its merits. maybe you’re right, but it’s a bit hard to enshrine this principle in policy or legislation.

    No, I am not arguing that given asylum-seekers “application should be rejected irrespective of its merits”. Or for a special case of discrimination to be enshrined in the law for any nation, race or creed. Your assumption on this, like all your other assumptions about my position, is unfounded [said testily, through gritted teeth as to a particularly obtuse person].

    The claims of genuine Suuni asylum-seekers should generally be allowed but they should be carefully scrutinised and perhaps granted residency rights after a long period of probation eg TPV’s. If the authorities find any really dodgy ones they could be off-loaded to a more sympathetic jurisdiction, together with appropriate compensation to tertiary destinations. (eg “Pacific Solutions”).

    As regards the selection of standard immigrants the state should follow a race-neutral policy of taking in high IQ and high EQ applicants. People who have smarts and can be trusted, whether black, white or brindle should be given a guernsey.

    The bar should be set rather high though, on account of the tendency towards regression towards means for cultural and racial groups. This unfortunate tendency is not helped by our enlightened cultural policy makers who are always insisting that aliens should hold onto all their ethnic traditions no matter how barbaric. No names, no pack drill.

    James Farrell says:

    though I can’t see that a sincere belief is any less creditable than the Machiavellian argument. Incidentally, are lies easier to jusify when they promote nationalist goals than internationalist ones?

    The fact that you can’t see something is insufficient to establish that it is not there. If you find Machiavelli to salty to taste you might find it illuminating to read Max Weber’s discussion of the eternal dilemma of statesman versus preachers. You would benefit taking in his advice to academics who trade on the rhetoric of moral prophecy and are ignorant of political security:

    To the person who cannot bear the fate of the times, one must say: may he rather return silently, without the usual publicity build-up of renegades, but simply and plainly. The arms of the old churches are opened widely and compassionately for him. After all, they do not make it hard for him. One way or another he has to bring his ‘intellectual sacrifice’–that is inevitable. If he can really do it, we shall not rebuke him.

    For such an intellectual sacrifice in favor of an unconditional religious devotion is ethically quite a different matter than the evasion of the plain duty of intellectual honesty, which sets in lacks the courage to clarify one’s own ultimate standpoint and rather facilitates this duty by feeble relative judgment. In my eyes, such religious return stands higher than the academic prophecy, which does not clearly realize that in the lecture-rooms of the university no other virtue holds but plain intellectual honesty.

  53. James Farrell
    December 12th, 2006 at 11:38 | #53

    Thank you for clarifying your position, Jack. I’m relieved you agree that

    The claims of genuine Suuni asylum-seekers should generally be allowed but they should be carefully scrutinised and perhaps granted residency rights…’

    I’m also pleased that you would now reserve the Nauru and Manus concentration camps for the ‘really dodgy ones’. If I err in recollecting that you previously supported sending the non-dodgy there too, I will respond with proportionate contrition.

    Your comments about immigration policy in general don’t have much to do with the original post.

    The question about the London bombers still hasn’t been settled to my satisfaction. Which of them was a refugee?

    By the way, don’t hesitate to include more of those stage directions (‘through gritted teeth’ etc.) in future comments. They are a particularly original and entertaining device.

  54. December 13th, 2006 at 01:33 | #54

    James Farrell Says: December 12th, 2006 at 11:38 am

    I’m also pleased that you would now reserve the Nauru and Manus concentration camps for the ‘really dodgy ones’.

    If I err in recollecting that you previously supported sending the non-dodgy there too, I will respond with proportionate contrition.

    Save your sorries this time around. I dont have a problem with off-shore processing of asylum-seekers of whatever credibility. If thats what it takes to arrest the lethal traffic in people-smuggling then thats what should be done.

    I do have a problem with lengthy incarceration of same, especially of children. Justice delayed…etc. But its not enough of a problem to make stifle my last remaining cheer for John Howard.

    The Pacific Solution also includes re-locating marginal cases to alternative jurisdictions, with appropriate compensation. I can’t see this as a humanitarian disaster. It is administrative argy-bargy at worst.

    Calling the Pacific Solution a policy of “concentration camps” brings up notions of Hitler’s gas chambers. If so then Curtin and Menzies were crypto-Nazis. But these camps were designed to do people in, rather than keep them out. I suppose this absurdum is a small price to pay for another item in the Howard demonology catalogue.

    My father was incarcerated in Bonnegilla, a genuine “concentration camp”, run by the Australian Army after war for the processing of Displaced Persons fleeing chaos and tyranny. I understand that it was no bed of roses, much tougher than the Pacific Solution.

    Yet the Australian government’s policies towards aliens in those pre-multicultural days had a good result. “New Australians” fitted in to the community, to the satisfaction of native and adoptives alike. This was according to Australian folk Enlightnenment norms: “have a go” (liberty), “fair go” (egalite) and “mateship” (fraterite). I own that this is still my nightmarish vision of the future.

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