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America must not neglect Iraq's refugees as US troops withdraw

Even as many US troops head home, we must ramp up our commitment to the 4.5 million Iraqis who’ve been displaced by war.

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Bombs still detonate and Iraqi political factions remain deadlocked, but American pundits and politicians have vied to take credit for US “success” in Iraq.

“I am very optimistic about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration,” said Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year.

Days later former Vice President Dick Cheney shot back: “If they’re going to take credit for it, fair enough, for what they’ve done while they’re there. But it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you, George Bush’ up front...”

Now, as thousands of US troops withdraw to meet an August 31 deadline for a formal end to US combat operations, discussion has turned to Iraq’s uncertain future.

Lost in this new debate are the deep human costs of the 2003 US-led invasion – and what we, as Americans, owe Iraqis.

The costs of war

Iraq Body Count – an organization that combs media for reports of Iraqi violence – now puts the total civilian death count at roughly 100,000.

And there are currently 4.5 million displaced Iraqis languishing on the outskirts of Iraqi cities and scattered throughout nearby Jordan and Syria. This represents the largest urban refugee crisis in the world.

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