Ideas have consequences, and so do national policies. Ten years after our invasion of Iraq, many Americans remain largely unaware of the negative consequences of the interventionist foreign policy shared by our current President and his predecessor. Not least among these consequences is the increased persecution of Christians in Arab nations.
Andrew Noran’s recent article from The American Conservative, entitled How the Iraq War Became a War on Christians, shines much needed light on this particular fruit of American intervention overseas:
[O]n March 19, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced. Shortly after combat operations concluded on May 1, the real conflict began. Amid the chaos and sectarian violence that followed, Iraq’s Christians suffered severe persecution. Neither the military nor the State Department took action to protect them. In October 2003, human rights expert Nina Shea noted that religious freedom and a pluralistic Iraq were not high priorities for the administration, concluding that its “diffidence on religious freedom suggests Washington’s relative indifference to this basic human right.” Shea added, “Washington’s refusal to insist on guarantees of religious freedom threatens to undermine its already difficult task of securing a fully democratic government in Iraq”—more prescience that would be likewise disregarded.
The article goes on to show how the democratic governments we installed in the Middle East have been, for the most part, worse than the regimes they replaced. And how our country—during Republican as well as Democratic administrations—has refused to acknowledge the plight of Arab Christians as religious persecution, even as we continue to pursue a course of action in Syria that is resulting in the same consequences there.
For the record, I don’t believe that there has been malicious intent toward Middle Eastern Christians from either President Bush or President Obama, nor from the many American citizens who also support an interventionist foreign policy. Rather, I believe that the persecution being faced by our brothers and sisters in places like Iraq and Egypt is truly an unintended consequence. But there’s a difference between unintended and unforeseen. There were those who predicted such consequences prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and have been consistently warning us about where such policies will lead us.
The question is, will we ever learn?