After speaking with refugees during a recent trip to Iraq, Angelina Jolie has written in an opinion piece for the Washington Post called “A Reason to Stay in Iraq” that the surge — the reinforcement of U.S. troops — is working by creating the beginnings of a haven that will allow humanitarian programs to take effect.
Jolie has done two things with this editorial . She has advanced an idea that the stay-the-course military strategy and goals of the Bush administration in Iraq are synonymous with basic humanitarian goals to help refugees. And she has, of course, strengthened the hand of the McCain campaign’s argument that we need to dig in and stay for the long haul. She’s coming from a caring place and I don’t think she’s being dishonest about what she’s observed over there, but I’m not sure she’s said the right thing.
“I can only state what I witnessed,” Jolie wrote. “It will be quite a while before Iraq is ready to absorb more than 4 million refugees and displaced people. But it is not too early to start working on solutions.”
Which will take decades to successfully implement, right? As a result of our invading Iraq, destroying its infrastructure, scattering the military, creating havoc, spreading misery and inspiring more anti-U.S. hatred among Islamic fundamentalists than had ever existed before, Jolie is essentially saying that the only thing for U.S. forces to do is to remain there for years and decades to try and un-do all the harm and chaos. Does this strike anyone as diseased Orwellian logic on some level?
Jolie works on behalf of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. She’s lobbied the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to step up financing for aid to displaced Iraqis. UNHCR has asked for $261 million this year, which is “less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq,” she wrote.
“When I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq,” she stated. “They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.”