The situation in Iraq has improved dramatically, but has it gotten so good that interpreters for U.S. forces can walk around unmasked? The U.S. military seems to think so; it’s ordered “terps” to take off their masks or to take a hike. But the terps themselves have a different view. As reported by the Washington Post, many of these brave Iraqis, who have risked so much to aid U.S. forces, are terrified that they and their families will be killed if they reveal their identities. And with good cause: Many terps and their families have already been targeted by insurgents who know they are a weak link in the U.S. war effort.
The U.S. has not done right by these Iraqi heroes. Our government has done little to protect them, and has dragged its feet on letting them come to the U.S., where many of them desperately seek refuge. Now this. I can see why commanders would not want men in ski masks operating with their troops, but such concerns have to be weighed against the lives in the balance. The U.S. treatment of our Iraqi interpreters once again goes to show what so many Hungarians, Vietnamese, and others have learned over the years: that it can be more dangerous to be America’s friend than to be its enemy.