Friday, October 12, 2007

Fighting Talk?

Shotgun and I clearly do not agree on everything but, in this case the Iraqi employees campaign - hence his comments on this blog. His latest sets out his reasons, so let's try to respond ...:

The plight of British servicemen is only a small part of my objection to this shameless campaign.

The Iraqis must take respnsibility for their own people; why are we in any way to blame?

People may dispute just how much control the coalition currently allow the Iraqi authorities - more in the South East (i.e. the British sector) and North (the predominantly Kurdish areas) but, taking that aside, the people we are campaigning on behalf of are those who have been placed at significant risk because they have worked for the British Government (military or civil) or British sponsored or supervised sections of the coalition effort. It is the increased risk because of working for us that justifies the moral indignation - rather than the overall security in Iraq or any particular bit of it. Our moral obligations under the latter are also being ignored by the Government and the Immigration Service but that is an entirely different matter.

Resttlement could be achieved anywhere in Iraq, which is a very large place.

Iraq is, it has to be said, rather large. It is also composed of tribes and factions who really don't like each other, therefore resettlement into Baghdad for some-one from Basra may be more "from frying-pan into fire" than resettlement to a place of safety. There is also the issue that, as the UK Government, the only place where we have the right to offer relocation to is the UK. If people choose another location and can get (or we can facilitate) the appropriate permissions, that is clearly an option. However, first, we need to agree the moral imperative to assist and begin implementing it practically.
British soldiers must take complete and utter precedence; you may find this distasteful, but I would put British lives before Iaqis.

At no point did I (or have I heard anybody) suggest that the efforts on behalf of the Iraqi employees should take support away from British troops. I would find it difficult to do anything other than equate the value of a life with any other - and the responsibility of the UK Government is to its employees. That applies whether they are British or not, and whether they are military or not.
Where is the campaign, as vociferous and passionate as this, to bring British servicemen home?

Surprisingly, all over the place. Not, admittedly from me but that is because I believe that regardless of the wrongs and wrongs of the initial invasion, having made a mess of the country and its infrastructure, we have an obligation to help restore the Iraq to being a functional state.

This is an admission of defeat at a time when we should be trying to raise moral.

I disagree - no more that Operation Trident is an admission of defeat by the Met Police - it is doing something about a specific circumstance.
It is a serious and callous insult to previous British servicemen who have died and been injured to allow, and campaign, Iraqis into the UK because it is too dangerous for them in Iraq.

Is it? Most of the servicemen I have spoken to (admittedly, none of them had been killed in Iraq) support fair treatment for Iraqi employees at serious risk. If they don't feel insulted, why are you so insulted on their behalf? We also have to remember that it is also the families of the British employees at risk - operational service posts in Iraq or elsewhere are not accompanied - therefore there is a wider hazard to the locally employed civilians than too British servicemen - especially now that there are very limited deployments outside of the main Basrah Airport location.
What about other Iraqis? Hundreds die every month; are these not deserving?

Are they deserving of protection - certainly. Should people be campaigning for the coalition powers to keep trying to improve the rule of law throughout Iraq - certainly. What is the level of specific responsibility of the British government - less than for its current or ex-employees, in my opinion.

The same Iraqis under threat of death should be working for and protected by the new Iraqi authorities, and if they are not, why not?

And so on and so on.

Because the new Iraqi authorities have not fully established the rule of law in Iraq. We can argue about why this is - some will be the fault of the coalition, some the fault of foreign jihadis or governments. Many Iraqis, in government service, have loyalties to militias, tribes or other factions. Many do not yet have the training or equipment necessary to play their full part. Some, hopefully not many, are unwilling to risk their lives (although merely placing a police or Iraqi Army uniform on is quite a dangerous activity) to protect the British employees.

To suggest they must come to the UK because it is too dangerous for them in Iraq is probably the worst insult I can think of to British servicemen who are serving and have served in Iraq, and while you say tow wrongs don't make a right, which I agree with, it is still a wrong that shouldn't be added and built on from the original; let's not make the second wrong.

I can, without too much effort, think of many worse insults. I also believe that providing sanctuary (whether or not this is asylum, indefinite leave to remain, relocation to another safe country) is a moral responsibility for the GCF and his darlings who are at the head of the pyramid responsible, to a significant degree, for the risk of torture and death that these people face.

If you truly believe the rubbish in this campaign, then campaign as vociferously that we have been defeated and the troops should come home immediately. I don't see that there is a specific plight of these people, and don't believe there is one that exists above and beyond what already exists in Iraqs back streets and what everyone is subject to. Yes, they are targeted, but so are millions of others.

They are specifically targeted because of their status as current or previous servants of the Crown. Being barely able to speak English, I never had much contact with interpreters but Mark Brockway did. Look at his website,, for some details of the risks being currently run.

If you and others campaigned to have them resettled in Iraq, or the Jordan or where-ever, then fine I am with you, but back to the UK because it is to dangerous for them? I think that is unacceptable, and that is not an immigration view. Too many are using this as purely a campaigning issue for bloggers and don't care what the issue is, but it is a strong issue, and has raised their profiles, and that is what counts for them. (I don't include you in that)

It comes back to the responsibility of the British government. Clearly, in an ideal world, the generic we should be able to ensure the rule of law in Iraq and this problem would go away. That is not a practical short-term option (and part of that is due to piss poor planning by our and our allies governments). Therefore, we need another option and the one available in international law is refugee status & political asylum - and we can only offer these in our country. Hopefully, eventually, it will be safe for people to return but I want them to be alive to do so.

Some may be in it for less than 100% altruistic reasons but I haven't seen any evidence of this. Most of the bloggers concerned are micro-traffic people like me, or are already 'famous' for the depreciated definition of it as applies to bloggers: Manic, Justin, Rachel etc. Personally, I have not spent too much time peering into the souls of the bloggers concerned (and there wasn't nearly enough time in the pub after the meeting broke up.) From long conversations with Dan, and hearing Mark (who isn't a blogger), I am sure of their motives.

1 comment:

Peter Risdon said...

Jesus Christ, that's a disgusting blog you're linking to.

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