Monday, July 23, 2007

Planning Evacuations

One of the few pieces of Iraq policy that I hope has a large, broad, bipartisan base of support no matter what the current individual assessment of Iraq is being advanced by Ambassador Crocker yesterday.

"Our [Iraqi staff members] work under extremely difficult conditions, and are targets for violence including murder and kidnapping," Crocker wrote Undersecretary of State Henrietta H. Fore. "Unless they know that there is some hope of an [immigrant visa] in the future, many will continue to seek asylum, leaving our Mission lacking in one of our most valuable assets."

I believe that we have a moral obligation to help those who have risked so much to help us. This means giving all the translators, intepretors, construction program managers, laundry women, truck drivers and cooks a way out. They are tainted by their long term association with the United States. The probable winner in Iraq will need to have massive nationalistic and anti-American credibility. Protecting what a good chunk of the Iraqi public believes to be their quislings will be a politically and pragmatically very difficult step.

Due to the reliance of the US military on outside contractors for the vast majority of its rear area support services, the number of Iraqis directly employed by the US government or associated with on a daily basis will be huge. Denmark's small battalion contingent of under 500 men recently evacuated 200 Iraqis who had worked with them. Assuming the same proportion (40%) of Iraqis in direct support as US combat troops as a floor, that means we should be looking at getting visas and creating plausible immigration plans for at least 60,000 potential refugees.

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