Something for USCIRF to do


Gary Trudeau is on the international religious freedom case this morning:

Doonsb.gifDigging a little deeper, I note that Iraq has been a country of particular concern for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom since 2008, and a source of continuous worry since the U.S. embarked on its Iraqi venture back in 2002.

So it occurs to me that as it embarks on its next phase, the USCIRF might consider tweaking its mission. Up till now, it has been a kind of Faith-based Foreign Policy Team B, scurrying around to interested members of Congress, such administration officials as would talk with them, and such media outlets that would give them a platform, raising alarms about threats to religious liberty in this country or that. Its annual reports mirror the State Department’s own mandated country-by-country assessment. And, as current (and soon to depart) commission chair Leonard Leo notes, in given cases the Commission takes it upon itself to “review how the U.S. government is responding, and as warranted, formulate options for further action.”

Nobody likes a back-seat driver, and there’s good reason to be skeptical of the value of the endless kibbitizing. But as long as we’re stuck with the Commission, maybe it should think about taking the long view from time to time, and start evaluating the impact on international religious freedom of major American foreign policy undertakings. And maybe, now that the war is over, Iraq is the place to start.