The Corner

Pan-Arabism (but no Palestinians)

Mark Krikorian is right. Just after the liberation, I was on the Iraqi-Jordanian border, where I’d been told the UN had set up a huge refugee camp in preparation for the millions who’d be fleeing Baghdad. There was exactly one family there: a handful of Palestinians who’d been denied entry into Jordan. The mom wandered over to my car and asked me if I’d be willing to arrange passage to a third country for them. Not being terribly keen to burden the Canadian welfare system any further, I offered instead to drive them straight across Jordan and drop them at the Allenby Bridge, gateway to the Arafatist squat on the West Bank. The Jordanian official flatly refused unless I booked air tickets for them to North America.

A few miles up the road was the UN facility at Ruweished. Same story: every “Iraqi refugee” was a Palestinian who’d been denied entry to Jordan. As I said in Canada a while back, it’s easier for a Palestinian to emigrate to Toronto and become a subject of Queen Elizabeth than to emigrate to Riyadh and become a subject of King Abdullah.

So now they’re being given a right of return to Buffalo and Des Moines. This is the umpteenth consequence of America’s imperialism-lite. You can’t do fainthearted nation-building. If you’re going to commit yourself to building a free society in Mesopotamia, you have to be able to enforce your will on the ground. Otherwise, you should get out and let the natives get on with it. With the new Iraq, the US seems to have settled for responsibility without power – the worst of all worlds.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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