14 March 2006
Has the British army reached its limit?
Quite a few soldiers now seem to be speaking out against the war. Fusilier Lawrence Buckley (19), from Newhey, which is just outside Manchester, has spoken to the Manchester Evening News about serving in that occupied country:
We are supposed to be out there training the Iraqis to take over the situation, but nine-tenths of them don't want to know and the police force they have got is corrupt.It is quite understandable that the Iraqis "don't want to know," of course, because they realise that sooner or later the occupation will end and they don't want their neighbours to see them getting too close to the occupiers. Nasty things have a habit of hapening to collaborators when occupiers leave. . .
Ben Griffin (28), was an SAS trooper who told his commanding officer that he was no longer willing to fight alongside the Americans. He cited the "dozens of illegal acts" that he has seen the Americans carry out, and claimed that the Americans regarded the Iraqis as "untermenschen."
"I did not join the British army to conduct American foreign policy," he said, and expected to be court martialled for his refusal to serve any further tours in Iraq. Instead he has been discharged from the army with a testimonial that describes him as a "balanced, honest, loyal and determined individual who possesses the strength of character to have the courage of his convictions".
These are not lone voices. Max Hastings quotes from a new book written by another former SAS man that says pretty much the same thing: Iraq is a mess that has been made worse by the Americans.
The interesting thing about all of this is the way in which soldiers are chatting freely to the press and other soldiers are being quietly allowed to leave the service with glowing references, even though they have refused orders to serve in Iraq. I can think of only one serving officer who is being court martialled for refusing to serve; he is Flt Lt Malcolm Kendall-Smith, whose trial proceeds slowly.
Could the armed forces be sending a message that they have had enough of America's war? Will the politicians listen to them?