Avoiding the Final Betrayal

Posted: Dec 21, 2006 9:28 AM
Avoiding the Final Betrayal

There are duds, and then there’s the final report of the Iraq Study Group. Some in Washington had hoped—naively, I believe—that this group of Washington “wise men” (and women) would somehow come up with an instant, Solomonesque solution to the war. Not so.

Both the White House and its critics were cool to the group’s recommendations. There was nothing new in the reports. And so last week, the White House postponed a planned nationally televised address, which had originally been intended to follow the release of the report.

These events speak volumes about the difficult choices facing the nation, and they remind us that there’s no easy solution.

For example, not even the harshest critics of the war believe we can simply pull our troops out of Iraq. As I have said before on “BreakPoint,” this would only embolden and strengthen Iran and put the fate of Israel in grave peril.

There is one thing, however, Christians can bring to this discussion. It is the fate of Iraq’s Christians. There are an estimated 600,000 to as many as one million Christians in Iraq. They are called “Assyrians” or “Chaldeans,” and as these names suggest, they have lived in Iraq since time immemorial. What’s more, they are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, dating back to at least the second century. If any group has an historical claim to their part of Iraq, it’s them.

Yet an increasing number of Iraqi Christians have concluded that “there is no future for Christians” in Iraq. As one Christian put it, “We have no militia to defend us.”

That matters because, as the New Republic put it, “Sunni, Shia, and Kurd may agree on little else, but all have made sport of brutalizing their Christian neighbors.” Since neither Iraqi nor Americans officials are willing to protect them, Christians are leaving their ancestral home.

The extent of this neglect and indifference is on display in the study group’s final report: In its eighty-four pages, the word Christian never appears—not once. The words Assyrians and Chaldeans appear only in passing in the next-to-last recommendation as part of a longer list. Not one paragraph, not one sentence.

In contrast, the report makes multiple references to the fate of the Palestinians whom, last time I checked, don’t live in Iraq.

Whatever else it represents, the group’s report represents the conventional wisdom about Iraq: Figure out who matters and who needs to be made happy or, at least, less upset. So, while Syria and even Iran are accommodated, the well being of Iraqi Christians doesn’t figure into the equation at all.

That’s outrageous. It’s also, as I’ve told you before, not surprising. Iraq’s Christians have been ignored from the start so, in that sense, nothing has changed. What has changed is that we may leave without securing their future, and there would be a genocide of Christians.

American Christians can’t sit by and let this happen. Their blood would be upon our hands. And to abandon our brethren would be grossly immoral and cowardice.

So am I asking you to pray for our leaders and then let them know what you’re praying for: the wisdom to find a solution that does justice to all Iraqis, including Christians.

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