I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought this would be a good post to get back in the swing of things.
One would think that by now people in the U.S. would be experts regarding Iraq. Since George W. Bush talks so much about “bringing freedom” to the Iraqis, saying things like “the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad”, I assume all law-abiding, patriotic citizens should at least know something about Iraq’s culture, its geography, languages spoken, not to mention everything about the daily struggles of the Iraqis. Yeah right, and first thing tomorrow morning, I’m buying a Jaguar for myself and a Porsche for my wife.
It is so incredibly frustrating that the average American is completely ignorant of the current human crisis and refugee situation in Iraq. If this were the 1930’s, with no TV, print, or internet, I would understand, but nowadays information is at the tip of the fingertips, one search engine away.
Child prostitution is an increasingly widespread phenomenon in Damascus. Out of economic desperation, Iraqi refugee women and girls are forced into these roles. Frequently, women who have lost their husbands or girls who have lost their fathers resort to prostitution to support their families. And sometimes families that have no other financial resources sell their daughters into the sex industry. It is a tragic and horrifying reality.
There are no official figures as to how many of the Iraqi refugees work as prostitutes. But Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi women’s group Women’s Will, told The Independent that she puts the figure at 50,000. No one knows how many of the prostitutes are children.
Take a guess if this has EVER been discussed, or at least mentioned, in the mainstream media, with the seriousness this deserves. You certainly won’t hear it from the likes of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. They just don’t to talk about the problems, and even if they do, they certainly won’t address the causes of it:
The increased trafficking and prostitution is yet another result of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. There are roughly 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, perhaps 2 million within the Middle East. UNHCR estimates that 50,000 Iraqi refugees arrive in Syria each month. This situation represents the largest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948 and is currently the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. Syria has been accepting more refugees without visas than any other country in the world. On Sept. 11, however, the Syrian government announced new visa restrictions that will sharply decrease the numbers of Iraqis wishing to enter Syria.
50,000 Iraqi refugees each month. That’s over half a million last year just to Syria alone. Syria has done a lot for Iraqi refugees, yet you really don’t hear much about it. What you do hear is that Syria might get a can of good ol’ butt whoopin’, shock-and-awe style, if it doesn’t do what the U.S. wants. If George W. Bush really cares that much for Iraq’s people, then he must be bending over backwards helping Iraqis, right? Wrong:
[…]In a July 2007 press statement, Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, states, “The Syrian authorities have responded very positively to the Iraqis’ needs, but they and the Jordanian authorities should not be left to bear the weight of this crisis alone.” He went on to scold nations who had previously committed to providing financial assistance but had yet to cough up the funds.
But a lack of money is not the only problem. Refugees International underscores that offers from the international community to resettle Iraqi refugees have also been scarce. For example, the United States initially promised it would accept 7,000 Iraqi refugees by October of this year, yet, to date, has accepted only 133. Sweden, which had allowed thousands of Iraqis to resettle, has recently closed its borders to them. The silence of other nations on this issue is deafening.
7,000 measly visas for Iraqi refugees that are fleeing violence, civil war and ethnic cleansing, and of those only 133 have been accepted. Is this the high standard the U.S. currently has in place for the refugees in the very same fucking country it is “liberating”? I mean, give me a fucking break. It’s not like the U.S. has never helped refugees before. In 1975, President Ford brought to the U.S. 131,000 South Vietnamese that had worked for the Americans.
We can do a lot better. But I digress. The average American, especially those belonging to that elusive “28%” of the population that still backs Bush in whatever fantasy he spits out of his mouth, doesn’t have a clue as to what an average Iraqi refugee has to live with:
According to the UNHCR, Iraqis arrive with three to five months’ worth of savings. Due to a scarcity both of resources and of housing, they live in overcrowded neighborhoods outside of Damascus, such as Jeremana, often cramped seven to a room with few furnishings. Iraqis are not allowed to work in Syria, so when their funds run out, they are unable to support themselves. Consequently, many work illegally. Yet these jobs are difficult to come by and poorly paid, and workers frequently face discrimination. A report published by UNHCR and UNICEF last year states that an estimated 450,000 Iraqis in Syria “face aggravated difficulties” related to their “ambiguous legal and unsustainable income.” As their savings dwindle, the situation of Iraqi refugees is bound to deteriorate further. Sybella Wilkes, the UNHCR Regional public information officer in Damascus, says that “64 percent of the people who have arrived here have run out of savings.”
Bassam Alkadi, of the Syrian Women’s Observatory, agrees that the economic desperation is leading to an increase in prostitution. “The standard of living for Iraqis,” he says “has gone downhill very quickly.”
Yet according to Dubya, freedom is on the march. Sometimes I wish I were more eloquent so I can convey my thoughts and emotions better, but such is not the case here. The Iraqi refugee crisis is something I, along with others that truly give a damn about human rights, have been discussing since before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. One of my main gripes, though, is the hypocrisy that people have towards all of this. They care about the Iraqis, yet don’t want or don’t care to find out what’s really happening. It is all horseshit. Just admit it - this war has nothing to do with WMDs (guess who still believes that nonsense), democracy, or human rights. The average American does not understand or care much about human rights, and neither does Dubya.
Who are you going to believe, me or the president of the United States? Hint: I have been known to be right on occasion.
Back after an absence - in which I had some medical boards to tend to, and my wife had a baby - I realize that some things never change, such as ignorance and hypocrisy.
Let’s take Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York on 9/11 (as he would like to be remembered, he reminds us). The man is campaign for president of the United States representing the Republican party - not the party of Lincoln mind you, but the political party of self-rightous, war-crazed, torture-friendly conservative idiots who have come to power. I just mentioned “ignorance and hypocrisy” because you have to be either ignorant or a hypocrite to support a twice-divorced, drag-dressing man spouting “conservative family values”.
But I digress. On a campaign stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after the usual prepared remarks, the questions came. And here is were it gets stupid:
Asked about increasing federal support for HIV medications, Giuliani discussed what he considers appropriate federal responsibility in health care. “I don’t want to promise you the federal government will take over the role,” he said, drawing applause and shouts of “all right.” Then, in some interesting twists, he turned the HIV question into a 9/11 answer:
“My general experience has been that the federal government works best when it helps and assists and encourages and sets guidelines… on a state-by-state, locality-by-locality basis. It’s no different from the way I look at homeland security. Maybe having been mayor of the city, I know that your first defense against terrorist attack is that local police station, or that local firehouse.”
WTF? He was asked about AIDS, specifically HIV medications for HIV/AIDS patients, and his answer was… 9/11! It seems Giuliani has the routine pat down. Someone asks him a difficult question, and the answer is the same: 9/11! It is similar to Bush’s answer. Whereas Bush goes back to “the terrorists attacked us on 9/11″, Giuliani goes back to “I was the mayor of New York on 9/11!”, as if that is going to get him off the hook. So far, it has, but lets see if the public can stand that load of B.S. right up until the 2008 election.
By the way, there is another conservative idiot that had some problems on AIDS prevention - remember John McCain?
Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”
Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”
Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”
Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”
By the way, that McCain campaign is non-existant, so Giuliani better wise up and stop acting like a hardliner when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
Giuliani’s health-care plan is firmly based in the private sector. He proposes a $15,000 tax exemption for individual health insurance. “If you can find it cheaper, you can keep the difference.” He said with 50 million to 100 million Americans participating, this would create a marketplace for affordable individual plans: “Lots of people would buy private health insurance if it was as attractive as employer plans.” All plans would have to have some co-payment, to encourage people to make choices about their care.
In an extended analogy, Giuliani likened the cost of health care to the price of TVs in the early 1950s — prices were high because the marketplace was small. With a larger marketplace prices of TVs have gone down and quality has improved with advancing technology. “It happened because there was a free market,” he said. His analogy missed some realities - you won’t die if you can’t get a plasma TV, but you might die if you can’t get to the doctor.
But Giuliani mocked the idea of mandated coverage: “If the government had said, everybody has to get a TV, and we’ll help you pay for one if you can’t afford it, what would have happened to the price of TVs? When you promise these simplistic results you get disaster, like welfare.”
Giuliani also said a promise of universal health care was misguided:
“We don’t want socialized medicine. Maybe you should go see ‘Sicko,’ see if you agree with Michael Moore that we should have the Cuban health care system. That’s where the Democrats are taking us… All the places that have government-run health care, it’s inferior to us. We’ve got to preserve our private system. People will have to earn some of that access. Let’s not become a nanny state. You don’t help somebody when you make them dependent. You make it within their realm to do it, but give them a chance to earn it. The system gets destroyed when you start making big promises.”
Buddy, we already have some socialized medicine. It’s called Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. What’s more, we want more of it. Also, his claim that “all the places that have government-run health care, it’s inferior to us” is a load of shit, and he knows it (didn’t he just claim to see Sicko?). Even if he did not watch Sicko, the U.S. health care system is ranked 37 out of 191 countries, 2 notches above Cuba.
What’s hysterical is that all the places that have government-run health care are SUPERIOR to us. Way to go, Mr. Giuliani.
McCain’s “Straight-Talk Express” train might be in the scrap heap, but Giuliani is definitely picking up the slack.
Lesson for ALL presidential candidates: flunk AIDS, prepare to lose the U.S. presidency.