We wear red poppies to honour those who gave their lives and who serve in our forces so that we can enjoy a degree of freedom – and, rightly so. Men and women serving in the forces today are risking their lives to protect our national interests, political and economic. Most, play by the rules of war and the Geneva Convention to which we are signatories. Some, however, do not. Are we to sweep this under the carpet? Are we to pretend it did not happen? Are we to rage against Wikileaks as some US commentators are doing? Do we want to see Wikileaks proscribed by the Americans so they can take the site down and regard Assange as a ‘hostile’ and use ‘non-judicial’ methods to ‘take him down’ – and for that read ‘assassination’?
Four stories from the Press today provide much food for thought….
Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered
Guardian Exclusive: Methods devised in secret in recent years may breach international law
Iraq war logs: These crimes were not secret, they were tolerated
Guardian: Why did we not investigate allegations of murder and torture in Iraq at the time, when it was well known what was going on?
Fox News editorial: WikiLeaks employees should be declared ‘enemy combatants’
Leading the attack on whistleblower web site WikiLeaks, Fox News editorialist and former Bush-era US State Department official Christian Whiton said on Monday that the US should classify the proprietors of WikiLeaks as “enemy combatants,” opening up the possibility of “non-judicial actions” against them.
Iraq war logs: Apache attack’s child victims speak out
Guardian: Cockpit video of gunship attack that killed 19 and gravely injured two children was first major leak of Iraq war material
I watched most of this video. It was quite a shock – the brutality of war made stark. Again, I cannot help but put the point – if there are rules for war, we should observe them, even though others may not. I also pose the question – If it is war, why are there rules? Is the maxim ‘All is fair in love and war’ right?
In the film you will hear soldiers on the helicopter which machine gunned 19 people say of a child injured ‘It is their fault for bringing children into a war zone.’ It transpired that the driver of van ‘taken out’ by the gunship was merely trying to help. The occupants were not combatants. They were doing what many would do – seeing if they could provide assistance. I could see no evidence of the occupants of the van carrying weapons. All I saw was a wounded man being rescued. The machine gunner on the gunship must have seen what we can see on the film. They ‘took the van out’ Two young children were badly injured.
We would not have seen this film, of course, but for Wikileaks.
Rules of War…rule of law?