Yes, the State Department and USAID are fighting Trump Administration initiatives to help Christians in Iraq.
Mike Pence is pressing an initiative to direct a portion of American redevelopment aid to the Christian communities who were displaced from their homes on the Ninevah Plain into refugee communities and camps in Kurdistan. Some of the oldest communities of Christians in the world were overrun by ISIS, and the few that have not fled Iraq need help if they are ever to return to their homes. Pence is opposed by State Department officials and officials at USAID. These Deep State partizans are handwringing about how it might look bad if American aid goes disproportionately to Christians.
Of course, it was Christians and Yazidiis who bore the brunt of the devastation wrought by ISIS. And a calculation of what is “proportional” should be made on the basis of the former population rather than the current population. Consider this, reported by Nina Shea in an editorial at Fox News:
“Iraq’s Christian community has plummeted 80 percent, to less than 250,000 since 2003.”
The State Department has had an anti-Christian tilt for many decades. The thinking there is that they fear the damage that could be done by Salafist demagogues in the Middle East if America gave any excuse for a new round of shouting about “Crusader Americans.”
Of course, Salafist demagogues will shout about Crusaders whether or not an excuse is given. But there are some old hands at the State Department who recall how, when Bill Clinton stopped the Serbian ethnic cleansing of Bosnia, that example of America aiding Muslims against Christian aggressors served to allay hesitations on the part of some Middle Eastern governments about cooperating with America on other matters.
But the State Department has internalized that posture to an extent that has resulted in American actions that have harmed Christians. They have bent over backwards over the past decades to make sure that American actions do not favor Christians over Muslims. In a world where Muslims kill many Christians every year, the functional result is that the people who live in the Middle East who would otherwise be the greatest friends to the West and to America end up suffering at the hand of Muslim oppressors who are seldom opposed by America.
The past five years have been particularly disastrous, on account of Islamic State. When Obama abandoned America’s friends in Iraq and pulled out of that country on a flimsy excuse, the resulting power vacuum was deadly for religious minorities. ISIS, pretending to be the Caliphate that will lead to global Muslim dominance, demonstrated their zeal for Islam to the rest of the Muslim world by brutally killing non-Muslims in areas under their control.
Consider this (I will put a link in the comments below):
“For all of the past three years, U.S. humanitarian aid has bypassed the Christians and short-changed the Yazidis. The Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, which has been the sole guarantor of care for most Christian survivors of ISIS genocide, has received exactly zero of the $1.4 billion of U.S. humanitarian aid to Iraq since 2014.”
The Trump Administration now has ISIS on the run, but our State Department wants to continue their policy of favoring Muslims. Their view is shared by Foreign Policy magazine, who covered their beef with Pence in this article:
The article is behind a paywall. However, there is no need to read it, because my favorite media critics noticed the article and have a post about it, which I will link in the comments below. In the article at Foreign Policy, they note that Pence’s initiative is also opposed by the bureaucrats at the United Nations agency that partners with us on redevelopment aid for Iraq. Well, la-dee-dah. Imagine that, a UN agency that wants to tell us how to direct the money we are giving to others.
Now, aside from the way our State Department turns a blind eye to the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, I was chapped when the good folk at GetReligion.org passed along some information I had missed, which is that Iran is colonizing big chunks of Iraq. They linked to an article by Nina Shea:
“Iran has opened a new elementary school in formerly Christian Bartella, named after the Ayatollah Khomeini. Tehran also completed a mosque and library there. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Iranian diplomats and Iraqi officials gave speeches. Iranian-backed militias flying sectarian flags man checkpoints in other Nineveh towns where Christians have not returned.
In other words, American aid policies are facilitating Iran’s colonization of parts of Nineveh.”
When I hear anti-Trumpers handwringing about how Trump has “gutted” the State Department, that makes me smile.
Drain the Swamp.
It is long past the time that America should put America first, which should mean giving a helping hand to America’s friends. In this case, we are talking about friends of America who were betrayed by Team Obama.
May God Bless Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence in their efforts.