The last two weeks have been distressing. Jacob David George took his own life as a result of moral injuries sustained in Afghanistan. It pains me to think of the darkness that must have engulfed Jacob to push him across that final line. This week our parliament has voted to involve the UK in a new round of Iraqi blood-letting. For our Chicken-Hawk politicians to vote to pour more petrol on the fire we started is a punch in the face to all of us who served in Iraq and who witnessed that bullshit first hand,
We are directly responsible for the situation in Iraq. After the Gulf War of 1990/1 our war on Iraq continued. We carried out a decade of bombing and siege warfare that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s. In 2003 we prosecuted an illegal invasion of Iraq during which a huge amount of infrastructure was destroyed, we then dismantled the civil service and military. During the occupation which followed we took a society in which Sunni and Shia lived together and manipulated division to murderous effect, hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and tortured, whole swathes of residential areas were destroyed. During and since that occupation we have propped up a sectarian government who’s policies have marginalised and alienated the Sunni’s to the point of armed rebellion.
I served in Iraq (Baghdad) in 2005. I was involved in blasting my way into peoples homes with explosives. Once inside we would drag the people out of their beds and split them up. Women and children would be held at gunpoint whilst the males were interrogated. My task at this point would be to ransack the home taking money, computers phones, paperwork and weapons (it was usual at that time for Iraqi families to have weapons for personal security). Once the interrogations were finished we would drag all the males out of the home cuffed and hooded and take them back to our base where they would face further interrogation before being handed over to be tortured. I will never forget the looks from the people in those homes, especially the children, as we carried out those “operations”. I often wonder what happened to the young boys who witnessed the humiliation of their fathers. How could we blame them if they now fight with ISIS?
The be-headings carried out by ISIS were disgusting, but the primary aim was provocation. They were designed to elicit a response from the west. What ISIS craves most is confrontation with the west to raise there credibility and boost recruitment. The rational response to these acts of terror would be for the UK and US Governments to issue travel warnings to their citizens, don’t go to Iraq and Syria. Despite what our politicians say ISIS does not pose an existential threat to the UK. What can be predicted is what the CIA calls blow-back, attacks provoked by our own action in the middle east (9/11 and 7/7 are examples of blow-back). The depressing thing about blow-back is that just as in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya the majority of casualties are civilians.
If you listen to our Chicken-Hawk Foreign Secretary Hammond you will hear him state that the RAF is required to participate in this new Iraq war because they are capable of “precision air-strikes”. Does he seriously expect us to believe that US and French aircrews do not have the same capabilities? Precision weapons are limited by the intelligence available. During my time in Iraq we had access to a huge intelligence gathering operation yet still on most raids we would not find who we were looking for. That didn’t matter because whoever we did find would be detained as an insurgent anyway. Post interrogation it was assessed that only 10% of the people we captured were involved in the insurgency. Over the intervening years it has become standard procedure to claim that any males of military age killed by coalition forces are insurgents or terrorists. The point is that it doesn’t matter how accurate our bombs are or how skilled our Special Forces are, if the intelligence is duff civilians will be harmed. Since the US began this new round of air-strikes dozens of civilians have been killed, dozens of homes destroyed and the Iraqi Army has reported that 73 of their soldiers have been killed.
David Cameron can’t stop bragging about the prowess of British Forces yet the track record post 9/11 is damning. Defeated in Basrah, replaced by the USMC in Helmand and then we come to Libya. In 2011 the UK alongside other NATO members launched an air-war on Libya. This war has been held up as an example of British military success by the Chicken-Hawk Hammond. What he failed to mention is that as a result of our action Libya is now a failed state with Islamists in charge of Tripoli. Is this his future vision for Iraq?
It is beyond belief that whilst our newspapers are full of horror stories about ISIS our politicians are bragging about how our new coalition includes Saudi Arabia. This is the country which pushes Wahhabi doctrine throughout the world whilst Saudi nationals are major financial contributors to countless Jihadi groups including ISIS. In August of this year whilst the western media focused on the execution of three journalists the Saudis executed on average a person a day.
At times like these it can be difficult to know what to do, it seems that the establishment have all of the cards in their hands. Now is the time for us to double our efforts, we may not be able to stop this new war in Iraq but we must hold the line and begin to push back. We must confront the warmongers at every opportunity.
Song – See It Through by Ryan Harvey
Ben Griffin served with the British Army and is now a member of VFP UK