Conservatives had a tendency to attribute the all of the reduction of violence in Iraq to the increase in US troops. But one of the most overlooked stories of Iraq is the massive outflow of refugees, 4 million by the latest estimates. Basically Iraq has gone through its own Big Sort, whereby Sunni and Shia simply don’t live near each other, hence a diminishing amount of sectarian violence. Bobby Allyn attended a hearing on Iraq’s refugees and sent this missive:

The Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the Iraq Refugee Crisis yesterday. Jonathan Finer, Washington Post correspondent, testified with former Washington Post interpreter Nasser Nouri about the plight of over two million Iraqi refugees who are struggling for permanent resettlement. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, over 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced since the 2003 US invasion, with more than two million living in Syria and Jordan. The US has committed to accept 12,000 refugees by September. So far the US has only accepted 6,463, allowing three months for another 5,537. “The question isn’t will the US meet the 12,000 mark; it’s why only 12,000?” said Finer. “We took in several hundred thousand Southeast Asians after the Vietnam war, more than a hundred thousand Bosnians in the mid ’90s, 12,000 doesn’t seem like a very ambitious target.”

Nasser Nouri told the harrowing story of how Al Qeada tried to capture his youngest daughter after word got out that he worked for The Washington Post, highlighting the dangers faced by Iraqi journalists who work for US news outlets. “In Iraq you don’t tell people you work for the United States because your life then could be in danger,” Nouri said. Finer told of how Nouri acted more than just an interpreter, helping him avoid death in many circumstances. “No journalism would come out of Iraqi if it weren’t for the Iraqi staff,” he said. “Their importance is only gonna grow. We’re gonna be more reliant on people like Nasser.”

The numbers here, really are outrageous. We’ve taken a total of 5,537 refugees out of 4 million from a war that a war we started. Syria alone is now home to more than a million. With a population of 16 million, that’s a 6% increase. The equivalent number in the US would be 18 million. Can you imagine the political turmoil that ensue here if 18 million foreign refugees were to flood into the country over a period of just a few years?