IRAQI REFUGEES AND THE STATE DEPARTMENT
Inside the Beltway the State Department is referred to as "Foggy Bottom," partly because of the building location, but mostly because of the logic by which it operates. On Monday, December 2nd members of our fact finding team who had traveled to the Middle East met with Assistant Secretary Sauerbrey and seven fairly high ranking members of her department concerning a draft of our report on the condition of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
Secretary Sauerbrey is a George W. Bush political appointee to the State Department; the rest of those present were "career" officers. While the Secretary was present the tone of the meeting was cordial and concerned, and it appeared that progress was being made. Upon her departure from the room, the tone quickly changed to one of an aggressive defense of status quo policy. Ninety-nine percent of State Department employees, including most ambassadors, are "career" people who have their own agendas while working under various presidents. Often their agendas and desires to protect themselves overshadow the will of the political leaders of the nation. Unlike the Armed Forces, those at State rarely are obedient to the desires of the elected political leaders of this nation.
Often the official “called for” procedures of the State Department; the actual on-the-ground situation; and the perceptions of those involved are three somewhat different things. At the meeting with Secretary Suaerbrey on Monday we learned for the first time that there is a Jordanian-American staffer at the embassy in
NOTE : Several weeks after our departure from Jordan our team received reports from church leaders saying the Embassy had begun to have contacts with the refugee community. The findings of our team had been delivered directly to King Abdullah of
When we departed from the meeting on Monday we were very concerned about the “on paper” presence of the officer tasked with refugee liaison verses the personal witness of virtually every church leader in Jordan including Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical.
Our overall purpose is not to have our report “answered” but rather to begin to hear from the refugee community that their perception of the relationship with our nation is improving. Many of the Christians and secularists (most of the Muslim refugees actually appear to be secularists) who are now refugees saw our nation as their savior in 2002, and unfortunately our presence has caused them great loss of life and property. The suffering of the individuals we interviewed was appalling and heart wrenching at the same time. It is very difficult to talk to a mother who has had her children dumped dead at her doorstep. The experience of such a conversation is far different from a conversation with a Euro representative of UNHCR at a high dollar coffee shop who has never personally interviewed a refugee. One of our biggest concerns was the distance between the embassy and the refugee victims, many of whom had worked for the Coalition and suffered great loss as a result.
I publicly supported the President’s
Religious Freedom Coalition