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Showing posts with label Military in Iraq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military in Iraq. Show all posts

Monday, 2 February 2015

As we wait for the Chilcot Report …

Waiting for Chilcot is a bit like waiting for Godot. Idly checking back in my past ruminations on the war, I came across these comment of mine in the Guardian, circa 2008.

Guardian, comments 18 December 2008

I have been totally opposed to the Iraq war, from the lies, special pleading and moral cowardice that led up to it and throughout the horror, mendacity and ineptitude of its dreadful progress. But I am shocked at the unrealistic and superficial attitude of many of the comments on the role of the British armed forces, from armchair critics who have never been near a battlefield, have never placed themselves in harms way, and have never laid their life on the line for their country. To compare our soldiers, directly or by implication, to Nazis, is obscene and inaccurate.

The responsibility for the crimes against humanity in Iraq lies with the politicians who initiated it, to the members of Parliament who voted for it, and to the electors of Britain who continued to return them to power after the war started, and who continue to support them in government - and to the religious factions and tribal demagogues who manipulate the tortured people of Iraq, and naive - and always young - idealists from other nations, perverting their religious beliefs and the teachings of Islam to suit their evil and self-serving ends.

There have been atrocities - a minority of serving soldiers have behaved badly, and their superiors have failed by omission or commission to prevent this. But such aberrations occur in every war, and where possible, it has been exposed and punished.

But the prosecution of the war by British forces has been conducted in as principled a way as the exigencies of any war permit. An individual serving soldier may, at great personal risk, refuse to carry out an order in a specific instance that violates accepted codes of morality and international law, but to expect serving soldiers at any level to refuse to carry out their orders because of complex political argument at levels far above them is to expect the impossible. It is simplistic and brutally uncaring.

And what of the generals? Once our generals start to pursue their own agenda and their own political beliefs by confronting their political masters, we are headed for a junta. I hold no brief for Sir Jock Stirrup, and I think he should have thought, and thought again before committing his vapourings to print, but I do not believe he should have disobeyed his order.

I am a Scottish nationalist, and I fervently wish to be free of the Union that sacrifices the brave young men and women of Scotland to serve the vaunting ambition and vanity of despicable Scots like Blair and Brown, and permits them to send young men and women to their deaths, but I have never doubted the bravery and professionalism of the armed forces. In a very real sense, it is a greater sacrifice to do your job and die for your country in pursuit of a cause you do not believe in, because the majority of the people of your country have willed that act.

Place the blame where it squarely lies - with the politicians and the people who put them there. Leave our armed forces to mourn their dead and maimed comrades, and their families to cry out against those who sent them to their fate. 

Blair, Brown, Bush and Cheney attempt to justify their actions, but the verdict of history will damn them. The ancient Greeks recognised their type, and foresaw their fate.

The gods fail not to mark those who have killed many
The black Furies, stalking the man fortunate beyond all right
Wrench back again the set of his life and drop him to darkness.
There, among the ciphers, there is no more comfort in power
And the vaunt of high glory is bitterness.

AESCHYLUS - Agammenon

It is Britain's, and the Labour Party's abiding shame that two Labour Prime Ministers initiated, supported, and still defend the enormity of the Iraq conflict.