The U.S. motive for regime toppling in Iraq has changed, as the purported weapons of mass destruction have yet to be discovered.
Now, the Bush administration is celebrating the liberation of the Iraqi people, stressing that they will no longer be forced to live in fear of a torturous tyrant.
If this were truly the administration’s objective, the war would be moved to many other fronts.
China would be a good candidate for liberation, considering the government is responsible for millions of human rights violations each year.
But now Iraq, like China, is sure to have American economic interests at heart. And that is the real issue.
American indifference to human rights is further evidence by its record rejection of asylum seekers last year.
According to the Associated Press, in 2002, officials rejected 16,744 applications for asylum, allowing only 558 people to stay.
U.S. law requires that immigrants prove that they are more likely than not to be tortured and that the government is involved.
Now, the same Bush administration that has “liberated” Iraq, is making it even more difficult for asylum seekers to find refuge in America, the “land of opportunity.”
Under the paradoxically named “Freedom Shield,” promoted by the Department of Homeland Security, these asylum seekers are being detained, and their fates decided based on their nationality.
According to United Nation’s law and the U.S. Refugee Act, the detention of asylum seekers should be avoided.
When it cannot, decisions must be made based on “the personal history of each asylum seeker.”
A person is only to be refused asylum if he or she presents an overt threat.
With “Freedom Shield,” the Bush administration has once again spat in the face of the U.N. and the American tradition of opportunity.
The statute’s provisions voluntarily equate asylum seekers to terrorists.
For example, it allows asylum seekers from Afghanistan to be rejected simply on the basis of an increased possibility that they could be terrorists, even though it is quite likely that they experienced torture at the hands of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
As both domestic and international law mandates, each case should be considered on its own merits.
But, like with the Patriot Act I and II, our leaders are manipulating our fears into hysteria, and hiding behind the cloak of national security to rescind fundamental rights.
So, when our public officials tell us about the tragic treatment of Iraqis and Afghans under oppressive regimes, just remember how receptive we are to human suffering when American economic interests are not at stake.
Jesse Chadderdon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.