Whatever one thinks of the Afghani hunger strikers - and I'm of the view that Afghanistan is one of the last countries that anybody should be deported to - it's hard to argue with the logic that their predicament is far more serious than that of the undocumented Irish on whose behalf the Dublin Government has exerted such effort. The Government's position is that to grant these 41 men the right to stay here would undermine the immigration and asylum system. And allowing 40,000 or so undocumented immigrants to stay in America just because they're Irish wouldn't?

Bertie obviously thinks it's hard to argue, too, because yesterday in the Dáil he simply refused to answer the question when Joe Higgins put it to him, twice.

Edit: I've just seen this in today's Indo: "The Government is to give an additional $50,000 (€39,000) to an influential lobby group working to ensure undocumented Irish can stay in the US."

Hypocrisy, pure and simple.

10 comments:

The Dubliner said...

Just because it's hypocritical doesn't mean it's wrong. ;)

Wednesday said...

I think that it is wrong, for reasons already stated.

The Dubliner said...

Well, forgive my lack of background knowledge, but why exactly is it unsafe for 32 million Afghanis to live in Afghanistan? Is it only the 41 you list we should be concerned about or should we ‘rescue’ the other 32 million, too? If the argument is moral, then it’s equally as imperative for all to be offered sanctuary and not just those who have asked for it, no?

An argument or a moral position isn’t wrong simply because it is hypocritical. If a person says that drink-driving is wrong because it kills people, yet he drinks and drives, that doesn’t mean his argument was wrong – just that his claim is inconsistent with his actions. Politics, as Ahearn knows, is all about expediency – and consistency is always a casualty.

Wednesday said...

why exactly is it unsafe for 32 million Afghanis to live in Afghanistan?

Because it's a warzone, where US troops, Taliban and tribal warlords are engaged in constant battles with frequent civilian casualties. Hence the Irish Government's advice not to travel there. The US Government's page gives a similar but even more detailed warning:

"The ability of Afghan authorities to maintain order and ensure the security of citizens and visitors is limited. Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the terrorist al-Qaida network, and other groups hostile to the government, remain active. U.S.-led military operations continue. Travel in all areas of Afghanistan, including the capital Kabul, is unsafe due to military operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry among political and tribal groups, and the possibility of terrorist attacks, including attacks using vehicular or other Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and kidnapping. The security environment remains volatile and unpredictable."

That sounds pretty clear to me.

Is it only the 41 you list we should be concerned about or should we ‘rescue’ the other 32 million, too? If the argument is moral, then it’s equally as imperative for all to be offered sanctuary and not just those who have asked for it, no?

Actually the imperative is to help make their country safe for them to live in (and we cannot shirk our own responsbilities in this regard, as we have facilitated the military of one of the countries most responsible for the state Afghanistan is in). Having failed in that duty, the least we can do is protect those who've made it here.

An argument or a moral position isn’t wrong simply because it is hypocritical.

I didn't say that it's wrong simply because it's hypocritical.

The Dubliner said...

"Because it's a warzone, where US troops, Taliban and tribal warlords are engaged in constant battles with frequent civilian casualties."

Well, I did know that much! But that doesn't mean that its unsafe to live there. It's all about acceptable levels of risk. So, if there was, say, a 1/100 chance of being killed over a one-year period, that would be an unacceptable level of risk. It would then be fair to grant asylum. If, on the other hand, the risk is, say, 1/1,000, then that's an acceptable level of risk - and not much different than someone in New York lives with. So, if Afghanistan has 1/100 risk, then that would translate as 320,000 people killed each year. Obviously, one can't calculate the risk without knowing what the actual figures are.

Wednesday said...

Well, the problem with that is that nobody is counting the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan (and under international law you'd have to include not only the number of people killed, but the number subjected to torture or inhuman/degrading treatment as well). But, the fact that Western governments are telling their own citizens DO NOT GO THERE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES indicates pretty clearly that they think the risk is unacceptably high. The Irish Government isn't warning people to stay away from New York. Even a place like South Africa, which has a notoriously high crime rate, merits only a "be careful" from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Dubliner said...

"But, the fact that Western governments are telling their own citizens DO NOT GO THERE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES indicates pretty clearly that they think the risk is unacceptably high."

Not necessarily, as it may be that 'westerners' are particular targets for rebels, and, therefore, are subjected to a higher level of security risk than Afghanis. Since the issue is the safety of Afghanistan's citizens, and not westerners (to whom the warning is aimed), I don't see how that warning is relevant to establishing the risk that Afghanis are exposed to - which is the issue we're discussing.

At any rate, 2.6 Afghanis have returned to their country since 2001, so that would indicate that the level of risk is acceptably low. Keep in mind that the average wage of an Afghani is $2 a day and you gravitate toward the more likely cause of self-imposed exile: economic refuges.

The Dubliner said...

Correction: 2.6 million* Afghanis

Wednesday said...

Well, governments only give travel advice to their own citizens. I'd be surprised if non-Western governments weren't telling their citizens the same thing. Anyway if the people being killed and maimed in Afghanistan were Westerners we'd be hearing about it - in fact we'd probably have a better sense of the numbers than we do now.

Here's a recent article from CNN:

http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/05/23/afghanistan/index.html

At any rate, 2.6 [million] Afghanis have returned to their country since 2001, so that would indicate that the level of risk is acceptably low.

Acceptable to whom?

Jo said...

Well argued, Wednesday. I posted in similar terms on Joblog.
I thought the current "chieftains" supremely hypocritical and Thatcherite as was that woman herself in relation to certain other hunger strikers a while back....

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