To Be a Friend is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind

Kirk Johnson

Perspectives on Humanitarianism Lecture Series
Sponsored by International Studies Program

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
7 p.m.
Kirk Johnson website

The International Studies Program is pleased to present the Perspectives on Humanitarianism Lecture Series this spring. This is the second talk in the series.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans stepped forward to assist U.S. soldiers, diplomats, and aid workers over the past decade of war, acting as interpreters, engineers, and advisors to America's reconstruction efforts.  As the U.S. development program foundered and counter-insurgency tactics alienated the Iraqi and Afghan public, though, they were increasingly viewed as traitors to their country.  Despite their immense value to America's interests, as soon as they began to petition the U.S. government for refuge, they were met by a bureaucracy that viewed them as potential terrorists.  With the war in Iraq a distant memory and the withdrawal from Afghanistan gathering speed, the Iraqis and Afghans are now tarred with a stigma that is both lethal and generational.  I will discuss the efforts of the List Project to confront both Republican and Democratic resistance in Washington, the state of humanitarianism in an America-in-withdrawal, and a brief history of bureaucratic abandonment in past wars.

Kirk W. Johnson is the founder of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, and the author of To Be a Friend is Fatal: the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind.  His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and his work has been profiled by This American Life, 60 Minutes, and the New Yorker.  Since 2007, the List Project has brought nearly 2,000 U.S.-affiliated Iraqis to safety in America, constituting the largest pro bono initiative on behalf of refugees in U.S. history.

Prior to the List Project, Johnson served in Iraq with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Fallujah as the Agency’s first coordinator for reconstruction in the war-torn city.

He has received fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Wurlitzer Foundation.  Prior to his work in Iraq, he conducted research on political Islamism as a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt.  Johnson received his BA from the University of Chicago in 2002.

Co-sponsored by CLAS, the Laura & Ralph Mueller Endowment for Islamic Studies Lecture, Academic Innovation Fund, Dept. of Anthropology, and Dept. of Earth and Environment

This event is open to the public.

Free; no tickets required.

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