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February 29, 2008
Angelina Jolie: US has "A moral obligation" to help in Iraq
Angelina Jolie may be just one more lightweight actor. But how significant is it in her role as UN High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador that she wrote the following in an Op-Ed in today's Washington Post:
My visit left me even more deeply convinced that we not only have a moral obligation to help displaced Iraqi families, but also a serious, long-term, national security interest in ending this crisis. I would be the last person to promote the idea that Jolie's observations should be taken any more seriously than those of a journalist or even a Congressman.
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.
But when someone predisposed to believe the worst about American efforts in Iraq and with virtually the entire Hollywood community opposed to our presence, it took a certain amount of courage to buck the tide and come out in favor of our staying there.
So kudo's to Ms. Jolie.