Will we abandon the Iraqis who helped us?

The President and the military are busy reading up on Algeria’s 1950’s revolt against the French. This very thoughtful blog entry at Paco Pond examines the differences and similarities between these two conflicts and concludes with this haunting question:

But there’s one final consideration, something that truly troubled me about Horne’s book. That is the fate of the harkis, the Arabs who sided with the French. There were many thousands of them, and at the exodus of the French, they were slaughtered. The FLN were always vicious—and their viciousness was reciprocated, to be sure, by the French, but the FLN were brutal and unforgiving and murderous with those who had opposed them. No reeducation camps, as in Vietnam. Harkis had their throats slit, were disembowled, mutilated, left to die within earshot of French troops, who by terms of the disengagement agreement would not intervene to save their lives. The French were incredibly callous in their attitude toward their erstwhile allies. We can contrast that with the American effort to evacuate the leadership of South Vietnam. What will become of the translators, the drivers, the Iraqi collaborators with the American occupation? George Packer, in The New Republic, has argued that we should save everyone we can. But I’m afraid we will not follow his suggestion. Our collaborators will have to make their separate peace, if they can, with Al Qaeda or the Mehdi Army. I doubt we will accept them into this country. And the world will see the truth, to our shame, that to us, to this day, Muslim lives are expendable.

Now that we’ve unleashed Hell on the Iraqies I hear more and more of the Republican architects of this war saying that’s what’s going on is the Iraqi’s own fault. That sounds like the beginning of a rationalization for leaving the people who helped us behind to the same fate as the friends of the French in Algeria.

It would be the second time a Bush enabled the slaughter of innocents in Iraq.

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