Lies, damned lies

British troops requested by the Pentagon moved from their own area to backup US forces. The timing of the request, so close to a US election, caused much controversy here, even amongst the more hawkish elements who supported the deployment, being viewed by most here as a blatantly political move. In order to placate the House Blair told Parliament and the British people that this would be a limited deployment, restricted to a certain, smallish area in a support role and promised after days of protest that they would be home in time for Christmas. This was a most unfortunate choice of phrasing, being rather too close to the empty promises of the politicians at the start of the Great War that it would all be over by Christmas. Many people thought it ominous.

Now they have expanded the role of the crack Scottish regiment, the famous Black Watch after telling us they would not. And now some of those illustrious regiment are dead, just a few days into their deployment. Blair has mislead Parliament once more and people are dead as a result. No-one can accuse the people of this country of shirking from a hard task or backing down from danger when we know we are right; our history in this respect speaks here far more eleoquently than I could. But what the hell are these Scottish soldiers – and Welsh, English – suffering for? They are not protecting our ancient kingdom. They are not making the world safer. This is not the fault of our soldiers – I hold our armed forces to be the most professional in the world and they do every job we ask of them and they do it bloody well. I also have no problems with them being deployed overseas even in conflicts we are not directly involved in if it is for a just cause – their actions in the former Yugoslavia and the recent intervention in Sierra Leone speak volumes for their ability (indeed in the African case a few hundred Royal Marines and Royal Navy Sea Harriers frightened the hell out of the rebel army about to encircle the capital and made them run like buggery – I don’t blame them, theRoyal Marines are not a group you want to face off with).

But the hard truth is there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and there were none when we were lied to to cajole us into war. Iraq had nothing to do with the terrible events of 9-11 whatsoever. The total lack of foresight and planning for what to do after the battle has left our soliders in an dreadfully exposed position. I know they are professionals and being in harm’s way is their role. But you never, never put them in harm’s way any more than you can help and you certainly don’t do it for a damned good reason. To add insult to injury the post-war mess has left the ordinary people of Iraq in a terrible state – living in terror of violence, coping without water and power and hospitals over-stretched, causing much suffering to the people we were supposedly helping. And we’ve created the perfect war zone for fundamentalists and every nutter with a grudge and an AK-47 to enter into through porous borders to kill and maim. This is security? This is helping the Iraqi people? This is stabilising an unbalanced region? This makes Britain and America and Australia safer?

This is the new shape of the post- Cold War world. This is the world George W Bush is shaping. His cronies in Halliburton and other big business operations are making millions while British and American soldiers are dying and being maimed. What the hell is patriotic about that? This is the world a disturbing amount of people just voted to continue in the US.

Some Scottish soldiers will be coming home in time for Christmas now, but they will be doing it in a flag-draped box. What the hell do you say to the families of these brave soldiers, Mister Blair? What simplistic platitude will come from you mouth for the cameras? Or will you avoid talking to the families directly as you have so often for the dozens of other UK troops killed already in this pointless, meat-grinder of a war? Would you send your son to fight? What are you going to tell these families, Mister Blair? As the 11th of November looms close and we remember the guns falling silent on the War to End All Wars, what are you going to tell those families who are going to watch their loved ones being buried in the cold, winter soil of Scotland after falling in a burning desert so far from home?

No more, I’m too bloody angry right now.