Left in the lurch
There’s nothing much more reprehensible than pushing friends into danger and then leaving them in the lurch. But that’s what the main members of the Coalition of the Willing have done in Iraq. Having hired many thousands of Iraqis to work for them in various capacities, the Coalition finds itself unable to protect them from death squads who are specifically hunting interpreters, not to mention private acts of revenge and the general chaos the war has unleashed. In these circumstances, there is an obvious and direct moral obligation to grant asylum to those who seek it. Not only is there a moral obligation, but a failure to protect those who have worked for us will produce long-run consequences more durable and damaging than those of a lost war alone. If we desert those who have helped us now, who will be foolish enough to do so in future.
But the Coalition countries, with the notable exception of Denmark, have so far chosen to ignore the problem. The US promised this year to take 7000 Iraqi refugees (a bit over 0.2 per cent of those who’ve fled the country or been displaced internally) but has so far managed to admit just 133 since last October. That number adds to about 600 since the war began. The British position is not much better. Australia admitted, admitting about 2000 Iraq-born refugees last year, some of whom fled the country when Saddam was in power, rather than as a result of the current chaos. This is not as bad as the US, but still incredibly grudging compared to our response after Vietnam.
If you’re in the UK, you can join a letter-writing campaign here. Similarly, the Australian government and the Labor opposition should be pressed to make a commitment to follow Denmark’s lead and provide asylum to all those who have worked for us.
Still, there is time. Particularly for those who claimed to be motivated by humanitarian concerns in supporting the war, there’s a chance of at least partial redemption in doing something to help its millions of victims.
 Of course, there’s a broader obligation to the millions of refugees created by this war, which I’ve discussed previously. But if we can’t even protect the people who actually worked for us, what hope is there for the rest.