Friday, August 10, 2007

Those Campaigning for the Iraqi Translators Should Keep Their Eye on the Main Aim

Many other bloggers have supported the Iraqi interpreters who are seeking asylum in this country as they think they will be in danger of their lives if the British leave. It is an issue which has united bloggers all over the political spectrum and Guido reckons that it is the first time that bloggers from the left have had an influence.

I was contacted by a leading blogger this morning, who asked why I hadn't mentioned the issue. Well, I don't comment on everything but I'd like to make it clear that I do indeed support the case for these 91 translators to be given asylum. And what's provoked me into writing something about this is one of the most twisted articles I have read for a long time, by Neil Clark on CommentIsFree. Read it HERE ... if you must.

Mr Clark believes the Iraqi translators are quislings and deserve all they get from their fellow Iraqis. He accuses the campaign for them to be given asylum of being run by pro-war bloggers, which illustrates how ill-informed he is on the subject. There are plenty of other bloggers who have rallied behind this campaign who are indeed pro war - my colleague Donal Blaney being one, but this is an issue of common sense and basic human sympathy, which cuts across political boundaries, as Sunny Hundal demonstrates. To get him and Donal agreeing on anything is indeed an achievement to savour.

However - and there usually is a however - the campaign for the 91 is now being widened out to include any Iraqi who has been employed by or worked with the British armed forces in any way. There may well be other groups who we would want to protect, but we should only be offering asylum to those who are genuinely in danger. To suggest otherwise is to risk losing an argument which the government has shown signs of listening to. When you're lobbying the government for something it's usually best to keep your eye on the ball. Other battles can be fought later.


Colin D said...

Do I understand this issue. 91 people have been employed by the army as translators of English into Arabic and vice/versa. Now when the job has been done they can come here to live and work at whatever they like. I must be missing Something? All because they say they are in fear of some reprisals.

Yak40 said...

Clark's remarks are despicable, ah the compassionate left. People that help us, now in fear for their lives as a result are to be abandoned to their fate if people like Clark have their way, but no doubt the return of five so-called UK residents from Guantanamo is a triumph in his distorted view.
Pointed piece in the Mail today:

Lightwater said...

Iain, I'm in absolute agreement with you on this. I'm a life long Tory, not sold on either of the wars, Iraq or Afghanistan. My immediate reaction was the absolute unfairness of the Govt's position. That those that offer our Armed Forces help should not be abandoned by us - so much for our much vaunted stance on asylum for those in peril of their lives.

I blogged immediately on the topic - that we should be ashamed as a nation. And then to hear the odious spin about there being 15000 Iraqi's who helped us - and that that was too many to accept.

Does that equate to 3 translators for each UK soldier in Iraq, of course not, it includes others who've not put themselves in peril to help us.

This is a matter of conscience, and that right-wing bloggers were first to latch onto this issue shows how honour and responsibility matter to us.

Well posted Iain. You're a top man!

Unknown said...


The UK government's policy has resulted in how many deaths and another 91 people become so important because we have failed?

Some kind of guilt complex perhaps?

Fidothedog said...

So there you have it, Neil Clark says that we should let those who help the US/UK die and well then we can wash our hands of the whole affair and blame George W Bush and Tony Blair for starting the war in the first place.

His logic being that he and the left wing were taking the moral highground on the war by opposing it and therefore believing that they were saving lives by opposing the war.

Now however the fight against US imperialism(as he see things)is best served by acquiescing in the murder of more Iraqis, thus allowing him a feeling of smug self satisfaction as he watches videos of their murders on Liveleak.

It is of no suprise that comments to that article are closed. As is often the case, the left say what they want and dislike the opposing viewpoint. Many of the replies who managed to get in lay into Neil Clark and tear him a new one.

Well done to those commentators. The best was the very last comment in the thread by dionysusreborn

* There's little to be said that hasn't already been said. When Clark first started blogging here I just regarded him as naive fool, a Stalinist Colonel Blimp who longed for the bygone days of the Soviet Empire. It was amusing for a while but the joke really isn't funny more. He has no brains and he has no heart, please take him away.

Nick Drew said...

We blogged this on Cityunslicker on 24 May:

previous withdrawals in unseemly haste from Palestine, Aden and Cyprus resulted in horrible fates for those locals who had helped us there. But the British Army had learned its lesson and when, in the days of the much maligned John Major we prepared to withdraw from Hong Kong, we carefully looked out for the interests of our sometime helpers to ensure that the worst didn't befall them at the hands of the incoming regime.

So - the British Army knows better than this. We can only assume its current shameful stance is dictated by the Shameless ones who begat the sorry mess. Let them hang their heads

Nich Starling said...

I ran a story on this some days ago on my blog and I am certainly not pro war. You'd have to look a long time to find a pro war Lib Dem.

Ken said...

I started the campaign to keep these creatures out last month, but as you implicitly acknowledge, it is now gathering steam.

I want to make just one point: if you support removing these harkis, presumably you believe that this should be done before the British leave?

If so, then what you are saying is that collaborators' lives are worth more than the lives of British soldiers.

Look, once the harkis start to leave, that sends a signal to the Iraqis that the British are next to go. Thus everyone who ever sat on the fence will jump down and start taking pot-shots at our lads. They have too: They have to prove to the men who will take over how patriotic they are!

People, engage brain before speaking or writing.

Ross said...

"I started the campaign to keep these creatures out last month, but as you implicitly acknowledge, it is now gathering steam."

Delusional & egotistical as well as being a lowlife supporter of terrorism. Hate to break it to but your 'campaign' is gathering moss not steam.

Flavious said...

Congratulations Exile, you managed a post with as much drivel if not vitriol as the one that prompted the initial post.

We have a responsibility of duty to these people, that cannot and must not be shirked.

No doubt you are chomping on the bit for some sort of right-wing type reasoning why we should do so.

Ignoring the simple humanistic side of it, I'll humour you somewhat and posit the question who on earth do you think would want to help us again if we are willing to abandon them to their chances should we as a nation feel we must intervene elsewhere? you know like Darfur for example?

John Trenchard said...

it just so happens that Michael Totten interviewed an iraqi interpreter the other day.

before commenting on this issue, i implore to read that interview.

here is the article

Henrik Kiertzner said...

Uncloaking from anonymity as this is a very important issue.

Anyone who's worked for the British will be a target. Whether they took the $200 a month for washing up or worked, extremely courageously, as interpreters, there will be many who will want to demonstrate their patriotic credentials by slaughtering them and probably their entire families.

We owe these guys, in the same way we owe the Gurkhas.

Ken said...

Lemme see if I've got this straight, Flav':

The harkis are allowed to leave Iraq, and the British army remains? They get attacked more and more, and the survivors can then go on to wage another useless war of aggression against Sudan?

The excuse for this aggression being what? That the people will welcome us with open arms? Naah, the warmongers tried that one in Iraq...

I really can see problems with this line, mate. Besides I dealt with it over at my blog. It is precisely to deter future collaborations that these chancers should be left to their fate.

Now then, pull 'em out before the army leaves or not? Simple question...

Mary Fernandez said...

From Michael Totten, an independent journalist in Iraq, interviewing an Iraqi interpreter working with the Americans.


MJT: Why do you work with Americans?

Hammer: When I was 14 years old all I liked was American cars and American movies. America was my dream. It was a dream come true when the United States Army came to Iraq. It was a nightmare in 1991 when they left again.

Maybe someone will think I’m lying, that I’m just saying this. If my friends say something like Russian weapons are the best or German cars are the best I say, no, Americans are. Everyone who knows me knows this about me.

If anyone says Arabs will win against the U.S. they are wrong. The leaders don’t want to be like Saddam. But if the US leaves Iraq it will be a big failure, especially for me. I don’t want to see this. Never.

MJT: Do you like working with Americans?

Hammer: A lot. Especially when I go outside the wire. I feel like a stranger here. When I go back inside I’m home. I have no friends outside, only family. When I go home I stay in my house. I don’t go out on the streets.

MJT: Why don’t you have any friends?

Hammer: I don’t feel like I belong to this society. They think like each other, but they don’t think like me. I can’t continue with them.

I like to know something about everything, to learn as much as I can. In Iraq if you know too much they will laugh and call you a liar.

When I was 20 I liked American music. They don’t like it. (Laughs.)

I don’t like Saddam. I hate his family.

MJT: Why do you have to cover your face?

Hammer: To protect my family. My family lives in Iraq. If they go to the U.S. I won’t have to do it. But I don’t want anyone to know me, to follow me and see where I live and kill my wife and son.

MJT: How did you feel when the U.S. invaded Iraq?

Hammer: Happy. It was like I was living in a jail and somebody set me free. I don’t want Saddam ruling me. Never. I was just waiting and waiting for this moment.

MJT: What do you think about the possibility of Americans leaving?

Hammer: It is like bad dream. Very bad dream. A nightmare. Worse than that. Like sending me back to jail. Like they set me free for four years then sent me back to jail or gave me a death sentence.

Anonymous said...

Clark's remarks are despicable, ah the compassionate left.

As Norfolk blogger has pointed out above, and many others have done on Neil Clark's article, this campaign was kicked off by bloggers on the left, most of them anti-war.

Neil Clark, by avoiding that obvious fact, lives in a parallel universe and certainly does not represent the left which have been constantly blogging on this for over a week before it became a national story.

cheers Iain.

follow Iain's link above.


Mary Fernandez said...

Neil Clark's remarks are typical of the self-hating and hateful left.

Mary Fernandez said...

Whatever you do, don't question their patriotism! /sarcasm

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Speaking as a pointy-headed lefty, I commend the British Army and people for working to provide safety to Iraqis who are very clearly in danger due to their services on behalf of British forces & government in Iraq.

IF great powers insist upon waging unwise and unjust wars such as Iraq - or even necessary, justifiable wars like Afghanistan - then they incure the responsibilities that go along with waging wars in other people's countries.

The Iraqi refugees who have served Britain and whom you admit into the UK, they and their families will turn out to be some of the most valuable citizens the Queen can hope to boast. And that's not taking a damn thing away from the natives and previous immigrants.

Can only hope that US does as well by its Iraqis as Britain appears to be trying. Unfortunately I'm not feeling too hopeful on that score. But our common responsibility (regardless of how we each feel as individuals about the war) is undeniable.

Aaron Murin-Heath said...

The Left Wing blogosphere was scoring "victories" long before certain right-wing media wannabes jumped on the bandwagon.

Iain, blogging didn't start when you and Paul Staines signed up to Blogger, y'know?

Rich Tee said...

Twisted lefties? What's new? Just ignore him. He's just doing it for the attention.

As for "the exile". Look at his biography. A dole scrounger who left Britain at the first opportunity he got and now throws stones from the outside.

Ken said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah...

So does that mean that you want to pull them out now, or leave them there to avoid the possibility that the army might take more casualties?

Such a simple question.

The Hitch said...

They are traitors to their own people , plain and simple.
The British army are not being attacked by "al queda" or Iran they are being attacked by people who are rightly incensed that thier contry has been invaded and destroyed.

Iain Dale said...

Tyger, Er, when did I say it did? And did I not compliment left wing blogs in this post. For the record I started my blog in MArch 2002. There was no bandwagon to jump on. At that time there were very few political blogs in this country. When did you start yours? According to your archives it was in 2005. What a peculiar accusaton for you to make.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

How depressing to read some of the comments here. By way of contrast, have a look at CiF, where the overwhelming majority of commentators condemn Clark without reservation.

At times, especially when driven by anti-Americanism, the Left can be truly loathsome.

John Trenchard said...

we should do a straight swap - i would 100 per cent support the importation of thousands of pro-Western Iraqis, if we could then export the thousands of seething Jihadists that we have running around this country.

Rich Tee said...

The exile said: "Such a simple question."

It is not a simple question though, is it? It's complicated.

Perhaps you should stick to running your second-hand clothing stall. That's clearly what you're best at. Don't worry. Whether they live or die it won't affect your fishing.

John Trenchard said...

"They are traitors to their own people "

how Hitch? is it traitorous to assist a democratic volunteer army in the overthrow of first , a genocidal fascist regime, and secondly ,in the killing and capture of foreign terrorists who regularly blow up hundreds of Iraqi civilians?

if for example, we had Nick Griffin as dictator in a fascist Britain, would it be traitorous to assist the American army in his overthrow?

its time you stopped drinking the moonbat kool-aid and woke up to whats really going on over there.

jjafo said...

So this is the caring compassionate left, is it? Reading Clark's ranting makes me even happier than usual that I am not a left-winger. What a despicable excuse for a human being he is.

I'm not a lefty and I was against the war in Iraq AND the war in Afghanistan. I am still of the same opinion on both.

That has nothing whatever to do with my belief that the 91 interpreters must be given asylum in the UK if they wish it. I believe this is what is known as a debt of honour - obviously that is not a concept Clark or The Exile would understand.

Apart from our debt to these men, to echo many posters here, why should anyone help the British Army if their fate is to be abandoned like used tissues once the Army has finished with them?

(As for The Exile - the fact he now lives in Mexico would seem to be our gain. Love the way he refers to the "State's money" - obviously never occurred to him the State doesn't have any money, it all comes from the hard-working taxpayers - does he find it so easy to sponge in Mexico, I wonder?)

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Who the heck is this guy Clark and how did he come to personify the entire "left"? And, damn it, why wasn't I told???

Also note that, based on blog comments, much of the criticism AGAINST aiding the Iraqi translators appears to be coming from the RIGHT.

Fact is, split on this issue is NOT ideological from anglo-american left-right perspective. Is more of an internationalist v isolationist, globalist v localist, nativist v cosmopolitan type of dynamic.

Also think it's grossly unfair to shoehorn Iraqi perspectives, actions and aspirations into OUR ideological categories and arguments. Let's not repeat THAT mistake!

Kris said...

Sorry, I with the government and against the aslyum for the translators- and I'll tell you for why: -

Our guys are over there sacrificing their lives for the Iraqi people. I'm sorry that the Iraqi people themselves are not similarily interested in their fellows or country.

All I can say to that is, "Freedom isn't free". It their country and they shouldn't be abandoning it.

Ken said...

Nope, it is a very simple question, but one that you are afraid to answer.

Should the harkis be pulled out of Iraq leaving British soldiers still in the country?

Rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel said...

Please don't assume Clark is representative of the Left. He is as representative of the Left as Nick Griffin is of the Right. And the campaign was started by left wing bloggers, most of whom are anti-war.

Anonymous said...

"[W]e should only be offering asylum to those who are genuinely in danger"

Err..that'll be the entire Iraqi population, then?

Anonymous said...

Clark is well known for his lack of grasp on topics, that is what is realy offensive about him - he is no expert and why is CIF hiring him? His previous pieces have often been an insult to the readers, who assueme the Guradian hire knowledgeble people - it's not about his views per se, just the fact he is well known to be ill informed. Put forward strong views, sure, but at least by people who know what they are talking about.

This quote from Marko Hoare is pretty good:

The best (or perhaps worst) example of this phenomenon is the ‘journalist’ Neil Clark, an obsequious admirer of Milosevic from a ‘socialist’ (read ‘neo-Stalinist’) perspective, who describes himself as a ‘British-based writer and broadcaster specialising in Middle Eastern and Balkan Affairs’. Clark has no qualifications in journalism or in Balkan or Middle Eastern studies, knows none of the Middle Eastern or Balkan languages, has never reported from either region, has little first-hand knowledge of either, and has never conducted original research or published a book or scholarly article on either. He apparently visited Belgrade in the 1990s and mistook the splendid former imperial metropolis for an example of the achievements of a socialist planned economy. Yet this amateur armchair enthusiast’s ‘anti-war’ views have earned him brownie points with ‘anti-war’ editors, enabling him to write about the Balkans for The Guardian, New Statesman and - an indication of how much the editors in question care about the region.