An under assessed consequence of the mass exodus from Iraq by those hoping to escape the violence, lack of water, electricity and unemployment is the loss of the technical and professional members of the former Iraq society. The very people that might be able to kluge together some sort of government, repair the infrastructure, negotiate settlements or cease fires are gone, fled, wasted. Michael Schwartz reports on this brain drain in an eloquent essay at Asia Times
The job backgrounds of an extraordinary proportion of Iraqi refugees in Syria were professional, managerial or administrative. In other words, they were collectively the repository of the precious human capital that would otherwise have been needed to sustain, repair and eventually rebuild their country’s ravaged infrastructure.
In Iraq, approximately 10% of adults had attended college; more than one-third of the refugees in Syria were university educated. Whereas less than 1% of Iraqis had a postgraduate education, nearly 10% of refugees in Syria had advanced degrees, including 4.5% with doctorates. At the opposite end of the economic spectrum, fully 20% of all Iraqis had no schooling, but only a relative handful of the refugees arriving in Syria (3%) had no education. These proportions were probably even more striking in other more distant receiving lands, where entry was more difficult.
The reasons for this remarkable brain drain are not hard to find. Even the desperate process of fleeing your home turns out to require resources, and so refugees from most disasters who travel great distances tend to be disproportionately prosperous, as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans so painfully illustrated.
These human resources are further wasted, not wanted in their temporary host countries awaiting expulsion. The management of this war has stripped Iraq of any chance of resurrecting itself.
From the vast out-migration and internal migrations of its desperate citizens comes damage to society as a whole that is almost impossible to estimate. The displacement of people carries with it the destruction of human capital. The destruction of human capital deprives Iraq of its most precious resource for repairing the damage of war and occupation, condemning it to further infrastructural decline. This tide of infrastructural decline is the surest guarantee of another wave of displacement, of future floods of refugees.
As long as the United States keeps trying to pacify Iraq, it will create wave after wave of misery.