The Guardian June 18, 2003


Britain: The first victory

The welcome news that no further action is to be taken against the two 
soldiers who refused to fight in the Iraq war is a mark of the success of 
their defence campaign and the anti-war movement as a whole. The two men, a 
private and an engineer from the 16th Air Assault Brigade based in 
Colchester, had faced possible court martial and up to two years in jail 
for disobeying orders.

The best the men could have expected, in other circumstances, would have 
been a dishonourable discharge. In fact no action of any kind is to be 
taken against them and nothing will go on their record.

Though the pair have shunned publicity it is clear that they took the 
principled stand against the Iraq war and it is equally clear that the Army 
did not want to test its dubious legality at court martial.

A major crime

The Army has enough on its plate already. Colonel Collins, puffed up as a 
"war-hero" last month is now accused of mistreating prisoners. He has been 
accused of personally ill-treating Iraqi prisoners-of-war and civilians 
under his control when he was in command in Basra. Charges of torturing and 
humiliating prisoners have been levelled at other soldiers and the military 
police are conducting inquiries at the moment.

None of this will surprise the Irish, Cypriot and Yemeni people or any 
others who had the misfortune to live under British colonial rule in the 
past. Threats, beatings and humiliation were standard issue for the 
colonial administrations of old and common practice in the occupied north 
of Ireland.

Soldiers are answerable for their actions whatever their rank and claiming 
they were obeying orders is no excuse. But the ultimate responsibility for 
war-crimes in Iraq  and the biggest is the invasion itself and the 
slaughter of thousands of civilians in callous air-raids  rests with Tony 
Blair and George W Bush.

Answer to the people

Tony Blair, like all hypocrites, wears his religion on his sleeve. He 
publicly tells us that his Christian faith sustained him during the Iraq 
war and that he is prepared to be judged by his "Maker" for the deaths 
caused by the conflict.

He should perhaps recall the words and acts of the founder of his 
proclaimed faith. Jesus Christ, known as the "Prince of Peace", called on 
his followers to love their enemies and turn the other cheek. He never told 
a lie.

Blair on the other hand has great difficulty in coming clean over the 
information he says he had about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass 
destruction.

There must be a public inquiry to establish whether parliament was 
deliberately misled to justify the invasion of Iraq. If it was, Blair must 
resign. He should remember that he is answerable to Parliament, the Labour 
Party and the people of Britain as well.

* * *
New Worker, paper New Communist Party of Britain

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