DID you know that General Tommy Franks, US commander of the Iraq invasion and author of Shock and Awe has received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth? Or that Mr Riley Bechtel, head of the US construction group Bechtel Corp, which has benefitted hugely from post-war contracts in Iraq, has received a CBE? Neither of these awards was in last Saturday's Queen's Birthday Honours list, nor have they been listed since 2003. They have come to light as the result of the diligence of the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker; the Foreign Office claims that such awards are not normally announced. It depends. When the FO wants an honour to a foreign citizen to be noticed it leaks the information; presumably it thought it wiser to say nothing in the case of General Franks and Mr Bechtel given the state of public opinion on Iraq. As for the UK awards in this year's Birthday Honours, they followed a familiar pattern. Virtually all those included will have done good, often outstanding, work in their chosen fields of activity, but it amazes me that Britain cannot get around to dropping the archaic British Empire awards and substituting something less embarrassing to their recipients. Another point: why was Stelios Haji-Ioannou's well-deserved knighthood described as being for services to entrepreneurship rather than for services to the travel industry? I've never seen entrepreneurship listed before.
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