David Calling

Kukri Beats Paper

The Gurkhas are soldiers from Nepal who volunteer for the British army. Presently they are serving in Afghanistan. They are the bravest of the brave, and over the years have done wonderful service. The roll-call of Gurkhas who have won the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery, is awe-inspiring. A traditional weapon of theirs is the kukri, a curved short sword. It is said that the sound of Gurkhas sharpening their kukris was enough to frighten the Japanese in the Second World War.

It so happened recently that some Gurkhas were discriminated against by foolish paper-shufflers in Whitehall, and told they were not eligible to live in England. Uproar followed. There was a mass campaign. The Gurkhas were then treated properly, and Gordon Brown was forced to apologize for the unfairness. It was a big step in the disintegration of his government.

Gurkha battalions have British officers, and they are among the best in the army, too. One of them was Major James Bowman. A renegade Afghan policeman entered the Gurkha barracks and shot Major Bowman dead in his sleep.  Now we learn that, at the same time, the Gurkhas were in action in Helmand, in pursuit of a top Taliban commander. Under heavy fire, they killed him. Orders were to establish the commander’s identity. It was too dangerous to drag him out while still engaged with the Taliban, so a Gurkha cut his head off with his kukri. Quick thinking, you may say.

This man ought to be promoted. Instead, he has been recalled to Britain and may face court-martial and jail. The foolish paper-shufflers are at it again. The story goes that by cutting off the commander’s head, the Gurkha has offended Muslims, on the grounds that their custom is to bury bodies whole. What nonsense this is, what an example of the self-abasement now habitual whenever we come up against Islam in any shape or form. And the renegade Afghan policeman who shot Major Bowman in his sleep wasn’t giving offense? If this Gurkha is indeed prosecuted, another mass campaign will start, and it may be a step in the disintegration of the Cameron government.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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