Friday, November 30, 2007

British Betrayal

"Let's not overlook a practical military issue here: Who will ever work for the British army in a war zone if they know that later they will be tossed aside like a spent cartridge?" Adam LeBor, The Times 9th August 2007.

Do you remember Goldeneye? It was the 1995 Bond movie, in which Pierce Brosnan tackled international terrorism in the first of the 'post Cold War' Bond films.

Thrilling stuff - and interesting too.

The bad guy in that movie, Alec Trevelyan, was revealed to be a Lienz Cossack. His plot was intended to wreck vengeance against the British for their betrayal of his people back in 1945.

Lienz Cossacks

Not familiar with that particular bit of history? I'm not surprised. It's hardly Britain's finest hour and so it doesn't make it into the history books that often.

The Lienz Cossacks were 'white Russians' who'd fought bitterly against communism and the rise of the Soviet Union following the Russian Revolution. During the Second World War, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Lienz Cossacks sided with the Nazis in order to try the topple the communist regime and bring 'freedom' to their country.

Which didn't happen.

First off, the Russians defeated Germany and communism reigned in Russia for another half a century. Secondly, the Lienz Cossacks made no friends by siding with the brutal Nazi regime and committed countless atrocities during the battles on the Eastern Front.

So when the war ended, things got messy.

The Lienz Cossacks who'd fought with the Germans were rounded up by the British. It was up to the United Kingdom to decide what to do with them.

The Cossacks hoped that Britain would protect them. Even though they'd fought on the side of the Germans during WWII, the Cossacks were not Nazis themselves - merely enemies of communism who figured that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'

Britain and America were staunchly anti-communist and the Lienz Cossacks hoped that they'd be considered allies in any upcoming conflict against communism (what would later be called 'the Cold War.')

But it was not to be.

Because of the brutality of the Cossack soldiers, who had murdered and raped their way along with the SS and the German army, the British wanted nothing to do with them and 'repatriated' these 'Russians' to the Soviet Union, where they 'belonged.'

Trains and trucks were pulled up and Cossack soldiers were forced into them. As were their wives, families and children - many of whom were not even Russian, having been born in the years after the Lienz Cossacks had left Russia.

The Cossacks didn't go willingly. British troops had to beat them into submission with billy clubs and rifle-butts. Eventually, almost 35,000 Cossacks were transported to their 'mother country' where the Soviets 'welcomed' them.

The vast majority of them were sent immediately to labor camps in Siberia, which were little better than the death camps the Nazis had built. Almost all of the Lienz Cossacks 'repatriated' back to Russia died in brutal suffering.

The 'lucky' ones didn't even make it that far. Because many of the Cossacks weren't born in Russia (their parents had left following the Russian Revolution) they were unable to be tried for treason as Soviet Citizens. Therefore the Red Army saved themselves the hassle of a military trial and executed them on the spot, with a bullet through the brains.

In the end, the British decision not to protect the Lienz Cossacks led to the deaths of over 30,000 men, women and children. Their blood is directly on British hands.

Although, as Valentin Dmitrovitch Zukovsky said in Goldeneye: "A brutal people. They got what they deserved."

The History Lesson

The reason I'm dredging all this up is because Britain and America are facing a similar problem at the moment. Hundreds of Iraqis who work for the British and American forces in Iraq - as drivers, translators and the like - are requesting asylum in the West to protect them from the bloody retribution they'll face from Iraqi insurgents.

And Britain's giving them the same answer as they gave the Lienz Cossacks.


The difference is, of course, that the asylum-seeking Iraqis begging for protection aren't brutal Cossacks. They're average men and women, trying to make a living for themselves. And the reason they're facing a death sentence from brutal Iraqi terrorists is because they deigned to work for the British.

We Brits placed a death sentence on them and now we're turning our backs.

The true horror of this is pretty hard to stomach. Take Mayada Salihi, for instance. She was a red-headed, divorced mother of two who had grown up in Baghdad and taught herself English by listening to American music growing up.

When the American and British soldiers arrived, she took work translating for the foreign servicemen, helping to communicate between the 'invading' forces and the people of Baghdad. All part of winning the 'hearts and minds' of the Iraqi people.

Doing so earned her a death sentence. In May of 2006, a terrorist cell called Ansar Al Sunna kidnapped Mayada off the streets of Baghdad and drove her to a remote location. There, she was brutally beaten, raped and horribly tortured with an electric power drill (the calling card of Ansar Al Sunna.) Eventually, many hours later, the insurgents 'put her out of her misery' by drilling directly into her skull.

Her broken body was dumped on the streets of Baghdad - a 'warning' to any who dared work with the American or British troops.

Is that the fate faced by hundreds of 'collaborating' Iraqis forces?


Although peace seems to be coming to Iraq (deaths of both servicemen and civilians are at some of their lowest levels at the moment) the 'war' is not won and terrorists and insurgents are still a constant danger.

Once the British and American soldiers leave, those Iraqis who assisted the soldiers and diplomats face the same fate as Mayada Salihi. Death, if they're lucky. Torture if they're not.

Unless Britain offers them asylum or protection of some description, many of them - if not the majority - will die. It's as simple as that.

And it's funny (although not 'ha ha' funny) that so many people are ranting about these asylum seekers - talking about all sorts of issues except the single most important one. The decision to let them live or die.

The Issue

Scrubby journalist Neil Clark, for example, wrote a heated piece in which he declared: "let's do all we can to keep self-centred mercenaries who betrayed their fellow countrymen and women for financial gain out of Britain."

The Exile is deliciously blunt: "Keep the buggers out!"

It's funny how two bloggers who bleat about liberalism and the evils of capitalism turn out to be so quick to condemn hundreds of people to death!


If we'd been blogging sixty years ago, I'm sure Neil and The Exile would have been very vocal about rejecting the Lienz Cossack's pleas for protection, too. After all, the Cossacks were a brutal people, who murdered and raped alongside our country's most hated enemy.

But the Iraqis requesting asylum in Great Britain are not Lienz Cossacks.

They are not soldiers or revolutionaries. They are drivers and translators. Folks who want to provide for their families. They're people who put themselves at risk to work for the British forces in Iraq because we asked them to.

Just look at Mayada Salihi. Not a brutal criminal or a bloodthirsty Cossack. She was just a divorced mother of two. I can't imagine any of the rest of the asylum seekers are any different.

And that's really the issue, isn't it? While Neil Clark calls the Iraqis who assist British troops 'quislings' and compares them to collaborators from World War II, he's really just trying to justify why he doesn't want a bunch of brown skinned people getting asylum in England.

The Exile is much more honest about things. He demands to know why hundreds of Iraqis are going to get first dibs on council houses and benefits when there's a long line of working class British people who've been waiting ages for them.

But in their anger over keeping the Iraqis out of Britain they ignore the truth - that turning them away is akin to a death sentence. Level that charge and both The Exile and Neil Clark leap behind the flimsy defence of 'I didn't support this war!" and "Their blood's not on my hands!"

But it is. Because whether you consider the Iraqi asylum seekers regular folk trying to make the best of their lives in war torn Baghdad - or back-stabbing quislings collaborating with an invading army - the end result is the same. If you campaign to keep them out of Britain, many of them may die.

I'm not arguing with their right to protest the asylum. I'm just wishing they'd avoid the hypocrisy and bite the bullet. You want them kept out of Britain? Fine. But they'll die - and you'll have tortured and killed them as sure as an insurgent with a power drill.

You are complicit in the betrayal.

If you can live with that - just like the British officers who who had to live with their decision to turn over the Lienz Cossacks to the Soviets - then more power to you. But I think you're a pair of heartless bastards.


David Payne said...

Absolutely brilliant piece.

Roland Hulme said...

Thank you, David! That's very flattering.