Friday, 9 October 2009

Iraq Memorial Day

Back to what I was writing, before nearly falling off my chair just now!

There’s already been plenty of coverage about a religious service in London today to honour the UK troops who have fought and died, and suffered horrific physical and mental scars, in Iraq since the US-led invasion six years ago.

Quite right to remember the soldiers’ courage and sacrifice, but the trouble with such occasions is that is not just a matter of the Queen and dignitaries meeting those who made that sacrifice. There is an unmistakeable subtext that’s all about monopolising the discourse on Britian’s war-making since 2001, which has little public support or international legitimacy.

The plan could be summed up as: “Let’s concentrate on something most people can agree about, and divert attention from the fiasco that has been the war in Iraq – oh, and in Afghanistan too.” This leaves one with the feeling that British soldiers, having been asked to do so much to carry out the plans of a cynical and unpopular government in the field of battle and the badlands of occupation, are now being exploited for propaganda.

So, for balance, here are a few of the things we should bear in mind during the service at St Paul’s: the overwhelming opposition to the war among the British public; the humanitarian disaster that the war caused and continues to cause in Iraq; the lies Tony Blair told to justify the war; the fact that the behaviour of British troops, while better than US combat troops, its
prison guards, and foreign mercenaries, has been far from exemplary. Most significantly perhaps, Iraqis are still paying the price day by day.

Pray hard, Mr Blair, and look hard into your conscience.

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