In the aftermath of America's withdrawal from Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. According to the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, between 1975 and 1995 more than 1.4 million Indochinese escaped, nearly 800,000 of them by boat. This does not include "boat people" who died at sea, 10% of the total by some estimates.
Liberals on Iraq.
By Jonah Goldberg
Barack Obama says preventing genocide isn’t a good enough reason to stay in Iraq.
“By that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,” he told the Associated Press. “We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea.”
It’s worth pointing out a key difference between the potential genocide in Iraq and the heart-wrenching slaughters in Congo and Sudan: The latter aren’t our fault. But if genocide unfolds in Iraq after American troops depart, it would be hard to argue that we weren’t at least partly to blame. Yes, the mass murder would have more immediate authors than the United States of America, but we would undeniably be responsible, at least in part, for giving a green light to genocide. Obama offers precisely that green light in his proposed Iraq War De-escalation Act.
Some advocates of withdrawal try to maintain the moral high ground by arguing that there won’t be genocidal slaughter — though that sounds like self-delusion to me. Most close observers of the situation believe that if the U.S. were to sail out of Iraq, it would be on a river of Iraqi blood.
“The only thing standing between Iraq and a descent into a Lebanon- or Bosnia-like maelstrom,” a new report from the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution concludes, “is 135,000 American troops.” Rapid withdrawal, the report says, could bring “a humanitarian nightmare” in which “we should expect hundreds of thousands (conceivably even millions) of people to die.”
New York Times reporter John Burns, who has won plaudits across the ideological spectrum for the clarity of his reporting, recently told Charlie Rose of PBS, “It seems to me incontrovertible that the most likely outcome of an American withdrawal any time soon would be cataclysmic violence, and I find that to be widely agreed among Iraqis, including Iraqis who widely opposed the invasion.”
Ultimately, it’s unknowable what would — or will — happen if the U.S. “redeploys” until it happens. But what I find fascinating is the growing consensus around the Obama withdrawal-is-justifiable position. (If you think this unfair to Obama, feel free to call it the Hillary Doctrine or the Edwards Corollary or the Richardson Rule.)
Liberals used to be the ones who argued that sending U.S. troops abroad was a small price to pay to stop genocide; now they argue that genocide is a small price to pay to bring U.S. troops home.
President Clinton lied in his 1998 apology to survivors of the Rwandan massacre when he suggested that he and his staff hadn’t known genocide was taking place. Documents obtained subsequently under the Freedom of Information Act in 2004 by activist groups showed that the Clinton administration referred to the slaughter as “genocide” in its internal discussions but refused to say so publicly because Clinton had decided against intervention.
“Genocide can occur anywhere. It is not an African phenomenon,” he said in 1998 as part of his apology. “We must have global vigilance. And never again must we be shy in the face of the evidence.” Thus, Clinton nicely articulated a moral principle whose moral authority he excluded himself from.
Nonetheless, this principle has saturated much of the recent discussion about Darfur. Indeed, as historian and columnist Niall Ferguson noted, Obama called for an increased military commitment in Sudan, including possibly sending NATO, in order to prevent genocide just two years ago.
There’s been so much talk about how conservative foreign policy’s moral credibility has been demolished under President Bush. Maybe. But what of liberal credibility? In the 1990s, amid the debates about Haiti, Somalia, Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the broad outline of the debate had conservatives advocating a narrower definition of the national interest while liberals argued — and I often agreed with them — for a more expansive one that included a heavy dose of moralism. Finally, liberals seemed to have shaken off the Vietnam syndrome and embraced an overly optimistic but benign foreign policy of nation-building and do-goodery.
Conservatives are at least still arguing about the national interest — but they’re also the ones touting the moral imperative of preventing genocide and even the need for nation-building. Where is the principle in the hash of liberal foreign policy today? How does liberalism recover? If you can justify causing genocide in order to end a nation-building exercise that — unlike similar efforts elsewhere — is fundamentally linked to our national interest, then how can you ever return to arguing that we should get into the nation-building and genocide-stopping business when it’s explicitly not in our interest?
Bus Driver Fired for 38,000 Text Messages
Jul 26 12:55 PM US/Eastern
WARSAW, Poland (AP) - A Polish bus driver has been fired for sending 38,000 text messages on his company cell phone in a losing effort to win contest jackpot, a spokesman said Thursday.
Leszek Wojcik, a bus driver in the northwestern Polish city of Slupsk, ran up a tab of some 94,000 zlotys ($34,000) with his text messages while trying to win a 100,000-zloty ($36,000) SMS contest that ended June 30, Slupsk city transport spokesman Hubert Boba told The Associated Press.
Boba said a city bus drivers' monthly company phone bill is supposed to be limited to 15 zlotys ($5).
Wojcik sent an average of 1,200 SMS text messages a day, each costing 2.40 zlotys ($0.86), on his work cell phone.
Wojcik told TVN24 television he wanted to buy a second car with his possible winnings.
"Now I'm without work," he said.
The controversy springs from a question at the YouTube debate asking whether Obama would be willing to meet, without precondition, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.
Obama, an Illinois senator, said he would and called it a break with the Bush administration's diplomatic policies.
Clinton, in the debate, said she would pursue vigorous diplomacy but she wouldn’t make such a promise without knowing the other countries’ intent.
“I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes,” she said.
In a telephone interview today, the New York senator went further. Of Obama’s comment, she said: “I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive.”
Poland getting ready to extend commitment in Iraq
Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo said on Saturday that Poland is preparing a new troop contingent that will be sent to Iraq early next year, if needed."We are preparing our soldiers for a 10th contingent, not because we foresee such a contingent, but because the Defense Ministry must be ready to act on any decision taken by the Government and the President," Szczyglo said.Poland currently has a contingent of about 900 soldiers Southeast of Baghdad.Poland has been one of the U.S.' chief allies in the Iraq war despite the fact that Polish public opinion is strongly against the war and Poland's involvement.
President calls U.S. missile shield in Poland a "foregone conclusion"
July 18, 2007
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said during his visit to Washington that the U.S. anti-ballistic-missile defense system will be deployed on Polish territory despite Russian objections to the plan.After talks with U.S. President George Bush at the White House on Monday, Kaczynski said the placement of interceptor missiles in Poland was a foregone conclusion.Kaczynski said the missile defense "shield system will exist because for Poland, this will be a very good thing," Polish public radio reported. Deputy Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, who is representing the Polish side in talks, has said he expects a comprehensive deal in September or October.Opposition politicians in Poland expressed concerns that the President has given a "final" answer and lost an important bargaining chip.
Poland getting ready to extend commitment in Iraq
Warsaw, Poland July 9, 2007
Defense Minister Aleksander Szczyglo said on Saturday that Poland is preparing a new troop contingent that will be sent to Iraq early next year, if needed.
"We are preparing our soldiers for a 10th contingent, not because we foresee such a contingent, but because the Defense Ministry must be ready to act on any decision taken by the Government and the President," Szczyglo said.
Poland currently has a contingent of about 900 soldiers Southeast of Baghdad.
Poland has been one of the U.S.' chief allies in the Iraq war despite the fact that Polish public opinion is strongly against the war and Poland's involvement.
Iraq making mixed progress on goals: report
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iraqi government has made mixed progress in meeting political and security goals, a U.S. official said on Thursday citing a report that may add to rising calls for a change of course in the unpopular war.
The widely anticipated report, to be released soon, grades the Iraqi government as satisfactory on eight of 18 goals set by the U.S. Congress. It showed that on eight of the benchmarks Baghdad's performance was unsatisfactory, and mixed on two others.
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