Thursday, March 16, 2006
No you didn’t miss a Blair conversion on the road to Damascus (or Tehran) – this is Prime Minister Howard of Australia. Howard made a speech to some kind of think tank in Australia, the whole text of which went up on his official website. Except that as at the time of writing the entire Australian Prime Ministers website appears to be down so you may find it difficult to access and check out this story..
We do now know that a British diplomat operating in Iraq reported to Blair a few weeks after the actual invasion three years ago and damned the whole affair with this summary;
"No leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis."
Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph continues its series of reports which (if they appeared in a paper like the Guardian) would attract massive conservative uproar about anti-Americanism. The latest is an interview with a former SAS trooper Ben Griffin who was deployed in Baghdad and refused to go back for second tour because he thought he was receiving illegal orders.
"I do believe passionately in democracy and I will speak out about things which I think are morally wrong. I think the war in Iraq is a war of aggression and is morally wrong and, more importantly, we are making the situation in the Middle East more unstable. It's not just wrong, it's a major military disaster. There was no plan for what was to happen after Saddam went, no end-game."
Griffin was allowed to resign from the army and got a glowing testimony. Not so lucky is Flight Ltd Dr. Malcolm Kendall-Smith who today faces the first round of legal proceedings which may lead to his court-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq on the grounds that he received illegal orders. This is the in accordance with the Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal of course.
We need to take very great care in discussing the individual decisions of members of the armed forces on this topic. What is clear is that we need to ask our Prime Minister to address the moral issues at stake and not farm off the dilemma to people trying to do their duty under appalling circumstances literally under fire.