Friday, February 29, 2008

Staying to Help in Iraq

I have the greatest admiration for Bono and Bob Geldof and Mia Farrow and Angelina Jolie and others who are able to transcend politics and move past the demagoguery and actually work constructively to improve the lives of oppressed people around the world.

There are all too many politicians in Washington and sideline commentators around the world for whom victory only means dealing a political defeat to their opposition.

So when
Bob Geldof praises George Bush's humanitarian activities in Africa and condemns the media for failing to give President Bush the credit he so richly deserves, I want to cheer. Not because I'm a Bush cheerleader, but because Bob Geldof actually places the welfare of the poor in Africa ABOVE politics!! Geldof has consistently looked for answers and help for Africans, not headlines or political points.

By the way, Geldof's article in this week's TIME MAGAZINE is a must read for everyone: Geldof and Bush: Diary From the Road. But, as usual, I've wondered off track....

Today I want to once again give praise and credit to Angelina Jolie, one of the brightest, most articulate and passionate people working today to help the poor, the oppressed and the forgotten. Jolie's work in Iraq this past week (and the past several years) is magnificent.

In a
Washington Post Op-Ed letter today, Jolie recounts the situation in Iraq and her recent visits with both the refugees in Iraq and with U.S. Army General David Petraeus, United Nation's High Commissioner António Guterres, and Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Jolie is a woman on a mission and she is succeeding.

Certainly Jolie is no fan of George Bush. She is deeply affected by the suffering of (by Jolie's estimates) over 4.5 million Iraqi refugees. She wants to help these people to return home safely and to rebuild their lives.

More than that, she wants and expects the United States and the United Nations to step up to the plate and provide financial and humanitarian assistance in this effort.

Jolie doesn't endorse the surge, she doesn't endorse the war. Jolie doesn't play politics. But she does recognize both the real situation on the ground and the need for the United States to play a significant role in rebuilding the lives of the people.

I think it's really significant that instead of sitting safely at home and running "General Betray Us" ads in the New York Times, Jolie goes and meets Petraeus and gets the support she needs to increase the humanitarian aid.

I hope you'll read Jolie's entire article:
Staying to Help in Iraq

Today's humanitarian crisis in Iraq -- and the potential consequences for our national security -- are great. Can the United States afford to gamble that 4 million or more poor and displaced people, in the heart of Middle East, won't explode in violent desperation, sending the whole region into further disorder?

What we cannot afford, in my view, is to squander the progress that has been made. In fact, we should step up our financial and material assistance. UNHCR has appealed for $261 million this year to provide for refugees and internally displaced persons. That is not a small amount of money -- but it is less than the U.S. spends each day to fight the war in Iraq. I would like to call on each of the presidential candidates and congressional leaders to announce a comprehensive refugee plan with a specific timeline and budget as part of their Iraq strategy.

As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And 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. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.


Vigilante said...

Yes, Wiz, Angelina Jolie is truly beautiful.

Stella said...

Wizard, you've made a good point that Bob Geldof is not, as I always thought, an idiot whose mission in life is self-promotion. Yet, I cannot stomach his praise of Bush. The U.S. gives less money in foreign aid—1%—than any other country in the world.

Bono sort of creeps me out. As John ("Rotten") Lydon stated, "Every time I see Bono in those big fly glasses and tight leather pants I just can't hack it. I can't see that as solving the world's problems. He's crushing his testicles in tight trousers for world peace."

I do greatly admire Angelina Jolie, Mia Farrow, and let's not forget Susan Sarrandon and Tim Robbins, as well as George Clooney, who have done so much. Perhaps I should mention Norman Lear, who started People for the American Way.

What a novel idea: transcending politics so the world can work together. Thank you for this post.

And, yes, Jolie is a beautiful woman; not the least of which comes from the depth of her commitment to humanity.