Leaving aside the pros and cons of a decision to quit Basra, one of the more disturbing aspects of the withdrawal will be what happens to the interpreters who have been working with the British. The Foreign Office, it seems, is unwilling to grant asylum to the 91-odd interpreters (and their families) who have been working for the British Army, and who can expect to be treated as collaborators and traitors by the militias once the army pulls out. It's a high risk job in the first place; meanwhile Defense Secretary Des Brown is saying that up to 20,000 Iraqis have been working for the British since the invasion in 2003, and that trying to help them is "impractical".
On the one hand, a reasonable and impartial observer might think that the British government owes a debt of honour to the civilians who have, at great risk to their own lives, assisted them in their mission to pacify Iraq.
On the other hand, let's play devil's advocate: what if the British government, in a craven fit of short-term electoral calculation panders to the instincts of the pull-up-the-drawbridge little-Englanders, sticks up two fingers at the wogs, and says "thanks, now fuck off"?
Doubtless the sight of collaborators' heads on sticks will provide much food for thought to any residents of failed states who are asked to throw in their lot with the next brutal and illegal imperialist invasion. And insofar as making it harder for the bastards to rape and pillage other countries is a good thing, might not the lives of 91 translators — hung out to dry by their soi-disant employers — actually be a cheap down-payment?
Here's my considered advice to the British government: if you think there's even the remotest shadow of a chance that at some future time you'll need to send troops overseas, let all 20,000 of your collaborators (and their families) in. Full right of residence and/or British citizenship, plus a golden handshake sufficient to buy a crappy little Barratt box in a new town somewhere in the midlands: nothing less will do. Because if you don't, you're going to find it a hell of a lot harder to buy
quislings and spies eyes and ears on the ground the next time your Dear Leader decides to play Sancho Panza to some doomed quixotic adventure.
Or, if you want to go all-out to win that October surprise election you can sacrifice them on the altar of Paul Dacre's immigrant obsession. That's okay; what's another 91 lives on top of the hundreds of thousands you've killed and the millions you've exiled already? Accept that you're not going to be able to dance the force projection fandango in future, write off the Neocon invasion fantasies as a bad wet-dream, and get back to the serious business of corrupt PFI deals and running your own little banana republic. That's my advice, incidentally. You don't even have to worry that anybody will think any the worse of you for it — we already know you're a bunch of hypocritical little shits with about as much moral sense as your cousins from Enron, and a tasteless habit of masturbating over recon photographs of cluster bomb attacks on wedding parties.
Do I sound angry? You bet I'm angry. So that's enough for now ...