"Thou shalt return to Afghanistan"

  TopCat® 15:50 30 Jul 2009

was the order but this NCO - click here - has refused to do so and is currently on leave pending a court martial next Monday.

My first reaction to this story, as a former military man myself, was that he should actually be holed up in the 'glasshouse' and no way should he be on leave. After all, he's taken the 'Queen's shilling', swore the oath of allegiance and therefore is bound by it to obey all legitimate orders from his superiors.

Of course there have been many conscientious objectors who've refused military service on genuine religious or moral grounds, but this obviously doesn't apply for this soldier as he's already done a tour in Afghanistan. His letter to the PM fully explains his objections and the refusal to obey orders to return there. Some objector ruling details at click here

Pondering this story further I've come around to agree with some of this NCO's objections contained in his letter to the PM. I believe our involvement in the Iraq war was based on a series of lies, and the consequence of events in that campaign made it inevitable that Afghanistan would follow, as surely as day follows night.

Hopefully, the full truth of events will be revealed when the current independent Inquiry into the Iraq War is finally published. It should make very interesting reading, I reckon. TC.

  peter99co 15:57 30 Jul 2009

The current independent Inquiry into the Iraq could take over 18 months I have heard.

  Armchair 16:04 30 Jul 2009

I remember Tony Blair standing there answering questions about it, after it had been agreed that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Seemed like his only argument for the entire campaign was along the lines of, "Look, we got rid of a dictator. The world is a better place for us doing that. Would you rather we hadn't done that?" No, not for what it cost us............

  peter99co 16:30 30 Jul 2009
  lofty29 19:19 30 Jul 2009

The afganistan war was launched as a reprisal for the 9/11 attack on the USA, the stated aim was to destroy the taliban,remove the terrorist training camps,and put in place a democratic government.There is not a hope in hell that any of these objectives will be achieved in the long term, it is a tribal county operating still in the middle ages. And democracy can only be achieved from within NOT imposed from without.

  laurie53 20:24 30 Jul 2009

Our presence in Afghanistan is part of a properly constituted UN operation.

Our presence in Iraq is not.

The two are entirely separate, and the legalities totally different.

For the campaign in Afghanistan to be illegal the UN resolution would have to be declared illegal.

I don't think there is any basis for such a declaration, nor would any international court make one.

  DieSse 21:01 30 Jul 2009

"And democracy can only be achieved from within NOT imposed from without."

Germany and Japan both give the lie to that.

  Forum Editor 23:39 30 Jul 2009

about the rights or wrongs of our country's military involvement in Afghanistan, I thought it was about a soldier refusing to obey an order.

In that respect it's a clear-cut issue, no armed force can possibly function efficiently if serving members take it upon themselves to make decisions about whether they'll obey orders or not. In a combat situation such selfish actions could place the lives of fellow servicemen and women in jeopardy, and that cannot be tolerated.

In defence of his insubordination this man says:

"I don't believe our cause is just. I think it's adversely affecting the Afghan people as well as the British Army and their families."

He's perfectly entitled to hold such an opinion privately, but whilst he is a member of the army he is not entitled to act unilaterally in direct defiance of a senior officer's direct order. He deserves his court martial, and I sincerely hope that the media don't use it as a means to create yet another folk-hero; the common soldier who stood up to the big, bad government. If we start down that road we're in big trouble, it will show a green light to every self-appointed expert on foreign policy in the land.

  DieSse 23:57 30 Jul 2009

"but whilst he is a member of the army he is not entitled to act unilaterally in direct defiance of a senior officer's direct order."

Whilst I am in general agreement with your point, that's too sweeping. I'd always understood that orders truly believed to be illegal MUST be disobeyed.

The "only following orders" defence was debunked comprehensively at Nuremburg wasn't it?

I do accept that this is not an illegal conflict by any stretch of the imagination though. And if he was not claiming the conflict is illegal, then he should be court-martialled.

It will be an interesting case if unjust can be conflated with illegal.

  Forum Editor 00:03 31 Jul 2009

Very often democracy cannot be achieved from within unless it is provided the oxygen it needs to develop beyond its embryonic stage. Realists, and those with some experience of human nature will recognise the need to provide the Afghan people with a breathing space, free from the oppression of the Taliban, within which they may form their own democratic state.

Unfortunately the Taliban recognise no form of government other than their own, which is based entirely on a rule of violence and political and religious intolerance - they live by the sword. The only way to deal with such people is to remove, or at least substantially weaken their ability to dominate by force, and that means the use of military force. The Taliban will not accept an alternative, and the Afghan people cannot achieve stability without outside intervention.

We're helping another nation to achieve self-determination as a democratic state, and that's not something to be ashamed of. It's easy for me to say that of course, because my son and daughters aren't risking death or injury fighting religious fundamentalists in another country - I can fully understand that my idealism might not be so easy to live with if I had to meet a coffin coming out of an aircraft.

  beeuuem 00:22 31 Jul 2009

Our CSM was quite clear on this subject - we were allowed to question any order,after it was carried out.

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