Obama Administration Betrays America’s Friends Overseas

by Hans Bader on December 20, 2011

in Immigration, International, Politics as Usual, Zeitgeist

America is now “turning its back” on Iraqis who helped the U.S., contradicting Obama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Anti-American Iraqi cleric, with a violent militia at his disposal, “recently declared that all Iraqis who assisted foreign forces are now ‘outcasts.’” Al-Sadr’s militia has killed many people, including American troops, and has a history of torturing opponents to death.  But he is currently a key power-broker in Iraq. Iraqis who helped the U.S. are thus at risk of death, just as Iraqis who helped the British were killed when the British earlier pulled out of the southern Iraqi city of Basra: “when Britain pulled its troops out of Basra a few years ago, 17 such ‘outcasts’ were murdered, their bodies dumped in the streets.”  But few Iraqis facing such threats have been offered asylum in the U.S. or allowed to immigrate.

In 2007, Obama noted that “the Iraqis who stood with America – the interpreters, embassy workers, and subcontractors – are being targeted for assassination,” and called it a “moral obligation” to protect them. But now, this “moral obligation” seems to have been forgotten, perhaps due to short-term political calculations. As Walter Russell Mead notes, this policy of not helping our friends will haunt America in future conflicts, if people refuse to help the U.S. fearing that they may be subject to retaliation later for doing so: “Those who stand by the United States in tough times deserve our thanks and our help.  And from a totally selfish point of view it is important that people deciding how to align themselves in future conflicts know that the United States of America stands by its friends. Here is one case where our leaders need to lead; Congress and the White House must find a way to help and protect our friends.”

This is not the only way the Obama administration has harmed America’s allies. It has also imposed sanctions on pro-American countries, while turning a blind eye to attacks on democracy and civil liberties in anti-American countries.  Obama has shown little interest in criticizing the human rights violations, violent repression, and anti-democratic behavior of Venezuela’s anti-American strongman, as even the liberal Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952, noted in an editorial by Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl, “Double Standards on Latin America.” The Post editorial noted Obama’s “willful disregard of political oppression” by anti-American regimes in places like Venezuela, and the fact that his Administration “for months refused to publicly” criticize human-rights abuses in Venezuela.

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