I came across this statement on Facebook earlier today, and I have to admit that a horrible shiver went down my spine. At the time of writing it has been shared nearly 60, 000 times. Whether the story is true or not I do not know: the person who posted it admits that it is not her tale, and the origin is undisclosed. The mawkish sentimentality of a young child asking a soldier to give her father an embrace and his pretense at contacting him in order that he could return the sentiment is tear jerking, but their blood runs red too.
The same heart-tugging sentimentality was on display last month, as another little girl was reunited with her father currently serving in the British Navy, as Rememberence Day, originally conceived of as a memorial to the slaughter of the first world war and a reminder of war’s futility has been turned into a jingoistic celebration. The First European War was dubbed “the war to end all wars”, yet nearly a century afterward it has been proven that the killing and the dying were all done in vain. Next year sees the hundred year anniversary of the commencement of that war. Despite the austerity measure currently being imposed, money has been made available for mass spectacular commemorations of British participation and of a British government who sent young men, some of them little more than children themselves, to die – wave upon wave upon wave of them.
The Lancet estimated that over one million people were killed in our invasion of Iraq. One million people – nearly twice the population of Glasgow, yet a recent poll shows that only two per cent of the British population are aware of this. Most – nearly half, think that less than 5, 000 people died: an underestimate by a factor of 200. Our invasion, which had no basis in international law – a war crime itself – cost the lives of over a million men, women and children and destroyed a nation. Just a small snapshot of some of the illegal killings in Iraq, a few examples pulled from that million, are
Hanan Shmailawi (33),
In Basra, Iraq in 2003, Hanan Shmailawi age 33, was shot by British soldiers from the 1st Battalion, the Kings Regiment, while she was sitting down to supper with her husband and children. She died in hospital a few hours later. No British Army soldier was charged with her murder.
Hanan Saleh Matrud (8)
Killed by a member of the British Army 1st Battalion of the King’s Regiment, when an armoured vehicle stopped near an alley that lead to her home and three or four soldier got out. A group of children, attracted by the soldiers. Suddenly a soldier aimed and fired a shot that hit Hanan in her lower torso. At first soldiers did not want to take her to hospital, but later did. She died the following day after an operation. No proper investigation was carried out, and no British soldier has been charged with her murder.
Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali (17)
On his way to work with his brother British soldiers beat him badly. He was then ordered at gunpoint to swim across a river. Weakened from the beating he received from the soldiers, he wasn’t able to make it across. He was dead when he was pulled from the river. No British soldier has been charged with his murder.
Prisoner Deaths in Basra
Six handcuffed and blindfolded civilian Iraqi prisoners, were systematically tortured and beaten to death by British Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (QLR). The subsequent British Army investigation concluded that the MoD and the British Army were blameless, and that the injuries and deaths of the Iraqi prisoners were attributed to nobody in particular.
Most of the stories we don’t know and never will – for entire families and communities were wiped out, leaving no one even to remember them, their lives or their deaths. Yet it did not stop with Iraq. The war in Afghanistan has now cost every UK household approximately 2, 000 pounds. Multiple abuses have come to light.
Of all the thousands of civilians and combatants, not a single Al Qaeda operative or international terrorist who could conceivably have threatened the United Kingdom is recorded as having been killed by Nato forces in Helmand. The only ones to benefit from the war have been foreign aid consultants, Afghan drug lords and arms companies
Frank Ledwidge, UK Foreign Policy Advisor
Chelsea Manning has been imprisoned in the United States for exposing specific incidents of illegal behaviour in battle conduct including the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts a US Apache helicopter firing on a group of civilians in Baghdad in 2007. When people tried to rescue the wounded, they were also fired on and murdered, then a US army tank drove over the bodies, desecrating them. If anyone in the Iraq War is a war hero it is Manning, who has been held in solitary confinement and tortured for years, not by “the enemies” who “hate our freedoms” but by her own government for exposing their lies, their crimes and their murders.
By repeating these tales of yearning for fathers in far off lands, it conceals the evil we do, overlaying it with a tale of childhood innocence, but many children miss their fathers and many of those fathers will not be returning. Many other fathers miss their children, just as much as that corporal does, but rather than knowing that they are safe in a land where no drones fly overhead, nor soldiers storm buildings, they will never see them alive again. This sentimentality directed at British families forced apart through the UK’s murderous foreign policy ignores the many fathers who miss their children who will never return to them killed in a war for resources: collateral murders remembered only by those who loved them.
The post invites you to agree with its sentiments, or simply delete and move on – which is in general the choices we are given about UK foreign policy – either support the troops or stay silent. We should not stay silent – it is us who are the silent majority, who cannot face what our country is capable of. A million marched against the war in Iraq, and a million died when the message was not heeded. The UK military has participated in illegal wars for resources, committed mass murder of civilians and reduced countries to rubble. We cannot let false patriotism blind us to the horrors that have been committed in our name.
There is no need to wear red, we are already covered in the red of the blood which has been spilt using our tax monies, our soldiers and our devastating weaponry which has ensured that some little girls will be separated from their fathers forever. As next year the British Government celebrate the anniversary of one of the greatest slaughters the world has ever known, we should be thankful that the following month we will have the opportunity to vote to rid ourselves from the shackles of one of the world’s greatest terrorist organisations and start creating a new country with a defense policy which concentrates on ensuring peace and domestic security for the people of our nation.