Sunday, February 28, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
“There have been demonstrations in New Zealand,
Moscow and St Petersburg protesting against
my son Joe’s imprisonment and unjust treatment
at the hands of the MoD [Ministry of Defence] and
British Government. We remain strong in the
knowledge that Joe is right.” Sue Glenton,
shown with Against The War York (UK)
Joe Glenton is the first soldier in Europe to publicly refuse to fight in Afghanistan. He was sent there with the British army in 2006: while politicians claim that troops were there ‘to help’, he saw that the Afghan people were against them. He went AWOL) in 2007 and handed himself in two years later.
Last November, he was jailed for a month, then released on condition that he does not speak in public. His mother Sue and his wife Clare have carried on speaking for him and against the war and occupation. On 29 January, as a result of international support within and outside the military, the military court dropped the most serious charges which carried a 10-year sentence. However, in spite of being diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, on 5 March Joe will be put on trial for going AWOL, facing two years in jail. This amounts to mental torture.
Joe Glenton is one of thousands of men and women around the world who refuse to serve in the military—a crucial part of the international anti-war movement. To defend Western interests, NATO troops have ravaged Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world. The majority of casualties are women. In 2004, the UN estimated that of the 1.5 million people killed in conflicts over two decades, 300,000 were children. This bloodshed must stop. Those responsible for the crime of war should be tried, not those who refuse to kill. REFUSING TO KILL IS NOT A CRIME!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
By Michael Savage, Political Correspondent The Independent February 20, 2010
Macho culture blamed for soldiers running away rather than asking for help
British soldiers have gone on the run from their posts on more than 17,000 occasions since the start of the Iraq war, The Independent can reveal.As resources for the armed forces remain stretched to cope with Britain's commitments in Afghanistan, official figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) show that there were more than 2,000 cases of soldiers going absent without leave (awol) last year, with 17,470 incidents recorded since the Iraq invasion in 2003.
The internal Government statistics, released to The Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, show that 375 soldiers remained at large at the end of last year, although MoD sources insisted that the figure has since fallen. Army officials are battling hard to tackle the problem that has persisted throughout Britain's gruelling operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Domestic problems and stress have all been blamed for the awol figures. There is also a trend for soldiers to not return from holidays. But support groups and politicians also warned that the extent of Britain's overseas commitments was playing a part, with soldiers having to go on repeated tours closer together than in the past.
The number of awol cases each year has remained at more than 2,000 for the past decade. In response, the army is carrying out research on the problem to gain "a full understanding of the issues" behind it. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that most incidents are caused by soldiers' domestic circumstances, eg family problems, rather than any wish to avoid military service," an MoD spokesman said.
Julie McCarthy, chief executive of the Army Families Federation, said that while help was offered to soldiers considering going awol, a "macho culture" within the barracks quite often put off young recruits from seeking advice about their problems. "Young soldiers in particular can feel that they cannot open up and take the help on offer, so when they have problems at home, they take the option of just dropping everything and leaving," she said.
"Anecdotally, we do hear of more serious issues of mental health, with some soldiers feeling that it all gets too much for them. I don't know what effect the number of operations that Britain has taken part in has had, but it must be a factor." Liam Fox, shadow Defence Secretary, said: "These figures are very concerning. There is a possibility that the current overstretch and high tempo of operations have contributed to this high level of awol soldiers."
Joe Glenton, 27, is facing up to two years in prison after last month admitting going awol. His solicitor said that Mr Glenton, who disappeared between June 2007 and June 2009, was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and had refused to fight in Afghanistan as he saw it as an illegal war. "Joe is delighted that he is no longer facing the higher charge of desertion," said his solicitor, John Tipple. "Soldiers are told to stand up for themselves when they are told to do something they believe to be wrong. That is just what Joe did and it was a brave thing to do." Mr Glenton is due to be sentenced on 5 March.
Two other soldiers picked up by police last year said they went awol after being bullied. Privates Andrew Jones and Andre Treble, both 22 when they walked out of Buckley Barracks in Wiltshire, said they had been attacked by fellow soldiers.
Local police forces are usually contacted by army officers to catch missing soldiers once they have decided to pursue an absconder, according to the MoD. Decisions to prosecute soldiers are taken on a case by case basis.
Source: Refusing To Kill
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
photo courtesy of http://www.chris-floyd.com/war/
Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities By Year
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Photo courtesy of http://www.spiegel.de/international
Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities By Year
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Tony Blair is a great showman - the most talented actor-politician of modern times, with the exception of Bill Clinton.
All his skills of presentation and manipulation were on display on Friday when he appeared before the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war.
Tanned and wearing make-up, his hair thinner and much greyer than during his last days as Prime Minister, he performed brilliantly.
But it was a performance all the same.
He was in control, as fluent and articulate as when he was making the case for war in 2002.
He seemed to have the five committee members just where he wanted them - feebly starstruck, helpless to challenge or wound.
Blair spoke with the zeal of a man who believed that he had done the right thing. "Saddam was a monster," he said. "A threat to the world."
At the end of the long day's questioning, Blair was asked by Sir John Chilcot, the Whitehall mandarin heading up the inquiry, whether he had any regrets.
Any person of compassion would have said that he regretted the deaths of the 179 British soldiers killed in Iraq as well as more than 100,000 Iraqis.
But Blair turned his answer into another extended riff of self-justification.
We have learned important lessons about nation-building, he said, as well as about the threat posed by Iran and al-Qaeda.
Sir John pushed him again: "So no regrets?" No, Blair said.
Chilcot is the fourth inquiry into the Iraq war. That there have been so many, each exploring much the same territory, is testament to the war's bitter legacy.
For the Americans, the war was never about whether or not Saddam Hussein did have weapons of mass destruction.
It was about "regime change", clear and simple.
It was about the taking out of an enemy of the US and of the US's strategic Middle East ally, Israel - an enemy that also happened to be an oil-rich state.
The al-Qaeda attacks of September 11 2001 on New York's Twin Towers had created the conditions in which the Americans could complete the unfinished business of the first Gulf War of 1991 and topple the despised Saddam. Post-war British foreign policy has been predicated upon our being America's number one ally.
But Blair was not compelled to support the Bush regime so unequivocally.
After all, in the 60s Labour premier Harold Wilson rightly refused to send British troops to fight in Vietnam, as Australia did.
No, Blair chose the course of war because in his view "it was the right thing to do", and because he believed himself to be on a kind of divine mission.
Remember how at the Labour Party conference of 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks, he had spoken of how the time was right to reorder the world.
"This is a moment to seize," he said. "The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux.
"Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder the world around us..."
Our soldiers are still dying in distant lands because of Blair's messianic dream of reordering the world through bloodshed rather than seeking the disarmament of Iraq through consensus and the United Nations.
Blair will go to his grave believing that history will judge him kindly. "I'm ready to meet my Maker and answer for those who have died as a result of my decisions," he has said.
But he will never escape censure on this Earth. He exaggerated the threat that Saddam posed to the UK.
His actions brought Islamic terrorism to our streets.
He took Britain into its worst foreign policy disaster since the then Suez crisis in 1956.
And the war resulted in a breakdown of trust between the people and the politicians - between those who govern and the rest of us.
That is a terrible legacy.
How badly will Labour be hurt by Chilcot? I don't think it will make very much difference to their present position or to Gordon Brown.
For a start, the party has learned the lessons of Iraq and, under Foreign Secretary David Miliband, has a new multilateral foreign policy.
In the end, the Iraq war was, above all else, Blair's war.
Brown as Chancellor might have signed the cheques to fund it, but ultimately Blair is culpable.
I'm sure his Maker is looking forward to that conversation.
By Jason Cowley, Editor of New Statesman
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Tony Blair was prepared to "deceive" Parliament over Iraq and freeze out opposition within his Government because of his unshakeable belief that it was right to topple Saddam Hussein, a former cabinet minister has said.
Clare Short, who was the International Development Secretary before resigning shortly after the March 2003 invasion, also revealed that she was "jeered" by cabinet colleagues and told to be quiet by Mr Blair when she attempted to dispute the legality of the war. She added that Gordon Brown had complained to her that Mr Blair was "obsessed with his legacy" and was determined to use a short, decisive victory in Iraq to secure it.
In the most ferocious attack on Mr Blair's style of government heard by Sir John Chilcot's inquiry to date, Ms Short said the former Prime Minister had ignored warnings that post-war preparations were not ready because he was "frantic" to give his backing to President Bush. Plans on Iraq were decided by a small group of his "mates", while she was frozen out during the summer of 2002.
"I'm not saying he was insincere," she said. "I think he was willing to be deceitful about it because he thought it was right."
Ms Short, who became the first MP to be given a round of applause after her evidence, told the Iraq Inquiry that Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General who gave the legal green light for military action, misled the Cabinet in doing so. While Lord Goldsmith told the Cabinet on 17 March that the war would be legal, just 10 days earlier he had advised the Prime Minister that while a "reasonable case" could be made for the invasion's legality, he could not guarantee that a court would agree. "I think for the Attorney General to come and say there's unequivocal legal authority to go war was misleading," she said.
She also directly challenged Lord Goldsmith's claim that ministers declined the chance to debate the legality of the war. Ms Short added that Lord Goldsmith had been "leaned on" and excluded from decisions in an attempt to force him to change his mind over the legality of the war, something he has denied.
She said that Mr Blair used "secretiveness and deception" to take Britain to war, while the checks on his power had "broken down quite badly" during his drive to join the US-led invasion. In particular, she said a tactic to "blame the French" for vetoing any further action against Saddam was "a deliberate lie". Ms Short added that France and other UN members may have backed military action at a later date.
"I noticed Tony Blair in his evidence to you kept saying, 'I had to decide, I had to decide.' And indeed that's how he behaved. But that is not meant to be our system of government," she said. "When you add secrecy and deceit the system becomes positively dangerous."
A letter published by the inquiry yesterday showed that Ms Short had warned Mr Blair before the invasion that preparations for the reconstruction of Iraq were not ready and that military action should be delayed. In the correspondence, sent two weeks before the war, she warned of a "possible humanitarian crisis" unless planners were given more time.
She said that the US body overseeing the post-war strategy was "under-staffed, under-resourced and under-prepared for the scale of the challenge" as the war approached. "You should be aware that the US and the international humanitarian community are not properly prepared to deal with the immediate humanitarian concerns," she wrote. "A little more time would make the US much better able to deal with some of the humanitarian consequences of conflict."