A few years ago I spent a month in Minneapolis and first became aware of the Hmong–“Our Vietnamese allies” my aunt called them. Large numbers of Vietnamese ended up in Minneapolis, but the Hmong was a population with difficulties adjusting and a high suicide rate. First, they were preliterate, having their own spoken language but no written language. Then, the tribe was known to have helped the Americans, which did not endear them to the post-American government in Vietnam. Many had family left in Vietnam who they believed were still being tortured.
Now there is a new group with problems because of their ties to Americans–Iraqi translators. George Packer, in the latest issue of the New Yorker, tells the story of Iraqi translators who embraced the Americans as a new chance for Iraq, only to find they are now being murdered one by one. He details the extarordinary precautions they take to avoid being identified and the safety and security concerns that were repeatedly brought to the American authorities and routinely ignored, as well as the more ordinary cultural misunderstandings that typically plaque Arab-American relations.