Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Will Britain Abandon Its Iraqi Translators?

Great Britain claims to have a long tradition of rewarding faithful service to the Crown...but like many other things, that seems to have changed of late, in the days of New Labour.

You might recall a shameful recent attempt by the Brits to renege on paying pension rights to elite Gurkha soldiers from India who had served faithfully in the British Army for years. Having lost Basra and in full retreat because their government refused to commit the proper troop strentgh and resources, the Britiah Army seems to be abandoning its allies in Iraq. Apparently that's the new order of things, as this London Times piece, entitled `A Question Of Honour' reveals:

"It is six weeks since the Government promised an “urgent review” of the situation of Iraqis whose lives are in danger because of their work as interpreters for the British Army. During that time, the 5,000 British troops have pulled back from central Basra to the airport, mainly for their own safety. Nothing has been done for the interpreters. Several have already been tortured and killed. Some have received death threats from militia thugs who accuse them of collaboration. Their homes are unprotected and their families live in terror. Out of loyalty and honour, they remain at their posts, helping British troops understand the dangers and the confusion. In return, they have been contemptuously brushed aside, as though they were trouble-makers demanding special favours. This is utterly shameful....

Spokesmen insinuate that extending the guarantee agreed for the 91 full-time interpreters would set a precedent encouraging up to 15,000 Iraqis to demand entry into Britain. Furthermore, they argue, lawyers would claim that Afghans should also have a right to asylum, forcing Britain to admit thousands of impoverished tribesmen.

Such talk is as dishonest as it is immoral. This has nothing to do with immigration policy and everything to do with British integrity. That quality seems disgracefully thin, compared to the immediate and unconditional guarantees given to their interpreters by Spain, Italy and Denmark before they withdrew their forces from Iraq.

In fact, Britain’s indifference is doubly culpable. For it is not the final pull-out that needs now to be addressed, but the situation today. The troops are still in Iraq and the interpreters are still needed. Some are so frightened that they are forced to remain on base all the time. Nothing is being done to guard their families. In desperation, they have appealed to correspondents to tell the world of their plight. And with weasel-worded insouciance, Army spokesmen maintain either that those threatened want to have their dignity and anonymity respected or that there is no record of those who have recently been murdered ever having worked for the British.

Militia leaders in Basra are already boasting their they have “driven out” the enemy; now they are trying to demonstrate their patriotic zeal by punishing “collaborators”, and the more terrifying the cruelty used, the greater their intimidation of a cowed populace. The US military is committed to doing the honourable thing in Iraq; by contrast, Britain looks very much as though it has cut and run, at the expense of Basra and the interpreters. Honour, it seems, was withdrawn together with the troops.


Sorry, cousins. Looking at things like this and seeing the craven way the British fleet scuttled away from its responsibilities in the Persian Gulf after Iran kidnapped a few sailors, I couldn't have said it better myself.

1 comment:

louielouie said...

i think things like this have occured since wars have been fought. i.e., the end of vietnam brought out all sorts of stories like this. i know, that was then this is now. and that doesn't make it right.
if i may drift from topic briefly.
last saturday night/sunday morning, PBS in okla. ran their blather on the haditha event/fiasco. channel surfing i stumbled onto this movie set in the boer war. this movie was filled with all the rhetoric currently in vogue, we have never fought and enemy like this, physical mutilation, etc., etc.
a long story short, the boer ambush a british patrol, capture, mutilate, and kill the commander of the patrol. upon learning of this action the post british commander send out an austrailian unit specifically trained to deal with this sort of matter. when they succeed they are made pawns in the british attempt to keep the germans from entering the war on the side of the boer and ending the war entirely. and to do this the british court of inquiry mis-carries justice in all capitals. the closing arguement by the defense attorney, specifically chosen by the british due to his lack of experience, would have been admissible/applicable had the haditha event/fiasco gone to trial.
what's my point?
they were an empire then.
they still think they are.
and what i find odd is that in george orwell's essay england your england, he goes on and on about how the british loathe military service.
i would view them as very very very very distant cousins......twice removed.