I felt obligated to follow this up, not to labour the point, but to add to the furore of military talking heads who have adorned our goggle boxes this week talking about Marine A and his impending sentence for murdering a mercenary Taliban fighter in Helmand.
I was surprised at first by the amount of interest my previous blog secured, largely given my own uneducated illiteracy. None the less thousands have both shared and ravaged my thoughts and a number of television shows delighted in trying to get me on their settees as a talking head, no doubt to twist my tongue into purporting that I am justifying murder and all that jazz. Fact is I am not. Murder is murder and the courts will have their say, as they rightly should.
What saddens me is the amount of people out there who apply open and shut mentality to this crime - "he's guilty, string him up"! A Tudor England lynch mob attitude that all acts of killing are the same. Life must mean life comes the chant. How precocious.
My comments, although derided by many on this platform, were merely attempting to point out that you cannot try this man with the same standards of little England. That in today's world, where combat in its literal sense is the state-sponsored authorised act of murder (given the socially advanced way in which we back home go about our ways), this presents a rare and deepening dichotomy. Such that as violence on the battlefield remains exactly that - violence - the softness, niceness and comfiness of back home becomes more cushy and easy. Combat and expeditionary war remains the most violent and disturbing component of humanity. This cannot be disputed.
We all therefore have a responsibility. Firstly, a responsibility to elect politicians who take great care before deploying young men to war, to conduct murder in our name. Secondly, we have a duty to try to empathise with service personnel, their families and their plight if they are to go and carry out military operations in our name.
Many young men are often compelled to join the armed forces like I was at 16. I had spent a period in state care, I had no qualifications to speak off, so I joined the army to escape and see the world, it was that or likely prison or homelessness. To mock those in uniform and simply say "You joined, it's your fault if you get shot or have to kill someone," is a cowardly and appalling attitude.
Soldiering is a noble profession and often a poorly paid and thankless task; we forget all too easily that the very freedoms and liberty we enjoy were carved out with the blood and sweat of our forefathers as they campaigned to free the world of tyranny in our name. Their sacrifices are real.
Because of this I have been surprised by the response of senior officers, most ex-senior officers, save as for warrior-class officers like Colonel Tim Collins and General Julian Thompson who have stated categorically for the need for clemency. Others though for the most part have been wheeled out on the television and in tardy columns in the press, spitting their nonchalant diatribe to appease the masses, baseless rant borne from no frontline service, no combat operational experience just fast-tracked staff college all the way to Colonel and beyond. Most will have bought their commissions way back when.
Even the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Houghton (a real officer with lots of clout) was telling Mr Marr on Remembrance Sunday that "murder is murder" and that pleading for clemency would "erode the moral ascendancy over our enemies". Moral what? Damn, I knew I should have gone to school.
I think that is what General Haig used to say when he sent shell shocked PTSD-riddled young boys to their graves by shooting them at a post for cowardice - 306 death warrants in fact. Lions sacrificed by lambs.
Look. This is b*llshit, we take care of our own and don't throw them to the dogs because its serves our political masters, and makes us feel better at night.
This Marine did wrong, he knows it, and we all know it. He will take his punishment on the chin I am sure, but he has also served his country, and did so gallantly. If he is to be tried for murder keep human rights legislation out of it and apply some common sense. Anybody with half a brain can work out that the extenuating circumstances of what went on during those weeks and months before this abominable act are powerfully important to the length of sentence he should receive.
I can already feel the heat I am going to get by these comments from the champagne swilling liberals sat at home in their armchairs reading health and safety manuals and playing Call of Duty. Pretend violence is ok, right?
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