Irregular Times | There is a report that was released by the U.S. State Department just at the end of last week, and it’s something that every American ought to take at least a short look at: It’s the Trafficking in Persons Report for 2008, a document that summarizes the problem of slavery around the world.
Sadly, there are many, many nations where trafficking in slaves is a problem. Even the Bahamas is under suspicion as a place through which slaves are transported.
In terms of U.S. foreign policy, there’s one country in particular that ought to receive special scrutiny when it comes to the slave trade: Iraq. Like Colin Powell said years ago, we broke it, and now we own it.
George W. Bush, John McCain and their Republican colleagues say that it’s still possible to make Iraq into a shiny, happy place that will make all the death and mayhem there resulting from their war worthwhile. That’s not the image of Iraq that’s given by the Trafficking in Persons Report, however. The report says of Iraq,
” Iraq is a source and destination country for men and women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Iraqi children are trafficked within the country and abroad for commercial sexual exploitation; criminal gangs may have targeted young boys, and staff of private orphanages may have trafficked young girls for forced prostitution. Iraqi women are trafficked within Iraq, as well as to Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Iran for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Iraq is also a destination for men and women trafficked from Georgia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka for involuntary servitude as construction workers, cleaners, and handymen. Women from the Philippines and Indonesia are trafficked into the Kurdish territory for involuntary servitude as domestic servants. Some of these workers are offered fraudulent jobs in Kuwait or Jordan, but are then tricked or forced into involuntary servitude in Iraq instead; others go to Iraq voluntarily, but are still subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after arrival. Although the governments of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines have official bans prohibiting their nationals from working in Iraq, workers from these countries are coerced into positions in Iraq with threats of abandonment in Kuwait or Jordan, starvation, or force. Iraq did not take any meaningful action to address trafficking in persons over the reporting period. Although it has a functioning judiciary, the government neither prosecuted any trafficking cases this year nor convicted any traffickers. Furthermore, the government offers no protection services to victims of trafficking, reported no efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, and does not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem in the country.”
This is the diagnosis from the Bush Administration itself: “Iraq did not take any meaningful action” to stop the slave trade going on within its borders.
This Iraqi government is what American soldiers are fighting and dying to protect. This Iraqi government is what we are spending trillions of dollars to prop up.
The American-supported government in Iraq is not lifting a finger to stop the slave trade going on right under its nose. Even when little boys and girls are being sold as slaves, into sexual servitude, the government of Iraq is doing nothing to stop it.
Is this haven for slavery what John McCain insists the United States needs to keep fighting to protect?