When we pulled out that time, we tried not to leave anyone behind – the chap in charge of the unfortunate rear-guard even popping back in a motor-boat the day after the evacuation finished to see if anyone was still about.
Hell – we even got a decent chunk of the French out.
There was no particular reason to bother rescuing the French types who’d been helping fight the Nazis. They’d failed to defend their own country, we’d tried to help out but were unsuccessful, and escaped by the skin of our teeth. To try and get the French out as well risked our own troops, and extended the evacuation by a dangerous couple of extra days.
But, of course, it was the right thing to do. We’d joined the war to help out our allies across the Channel, after all, given some hope of proper assistance, but failed. We could have just cut and run entirely, and let the French try to clear up their own mess (even though, by then, they didn’t have much hope) – but that wouldn’t have been the done thing, would it?
If we could rescue several tens of thousands of Frenchmen using fishing boats sixty-odd years ago, I can see no reason why we can’t help out those few hundred Iraqi chaps who’ve been working as translators, cooks, and miscellaneous support staff for the British army in Basra now that we’ve begun our Iraq Dunkirk. To leave them behind to face the wrath of the insurgents would be akin to leaving the French army on the beach, chugging away while waving, laughing, pulling the odd moonie and shouting back to them with heartening cries of “chin up!” as the Luftwaffe circle vulture-like and the Panzerdivisions lumber over the horizon.
As regular readers will know, I usually couldn’t give tuppence for the situation in Iraq – it’s bored the hell out of me since before it even started to the extent that I’ve been neither for nor against it since around March 2003.
But this is potentially the most cowardly and pathetic media-led action seen in a decade of a media-led government – to avoid a few days’ worth of overblown tabloid headlines about an influx of Iraqis, the British government is prepared to abandon loyal allies and their families to torture and death. It shouldn’t have to be pointed out (though sadly it is), but whether you supported the war or not, that’s simply not on.