The high-profile campaign by conservative politicians and media figures in the United States to absolve US military personnel of their proven or suspected participation in war crimes during the course of the country’s calamitous interventions in the Middle East and Afghanistan was initially assumed to be something of a political no-brainer, garnering support from Donald Trump and the populist base of the Republican Party. Surprisingly, some of the strongest opposition to the pardoning of convicted soldiers has come from American veterans themselves. By all accounts this push-back has caused President Trump to hesitate in his rush towards the issuing of a blanket pardon or immunity for serving or ex-soldiers linked to criminal actions while on overseas operations.
The attitude among military veterans in the United States, though far from universal, stands in stark contrast with the stance that has been adopted by the veterans of the United Kingdom’s counterinsurgency struggle in Ireland from 1969 to 2005. In the case of the so-called Troubles it seems that nothing less than a general amnesty will satisfy the members of the UK’s military, paramilitary and intelligence services who took part in the country’s decades-long “dirty war” on this side of the Irish Sea. One need only look at the recent television appearance of the Conservative MP Johnny Mercer MP on the BBC show Politics Live, where the former British Army officer deliberately and repeatedly misled viewers and other panellists while debating the investigations into historical crimes by the UK Forces in the Six Counties, making scurrilous allegations against the families and legal representatives of the men, women and children killed before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
With right-wing politicians in the House of Commons demanding that candidates in the forthcoming Tory leadership contest agree to shield soldiers, police offers and intelligence agents from investigation or prosecution for their actions in Ireland it looks like the only veterans of the Troubles who will continue to face court proceedings are Irish republican ones. Highlighting once again the entirely lopsided nature of “justice” when it comes to Irish-British affairs.
Everytime I see the hatred which is all over Twitter for Irish victims of British brutality that runs rampant on ‘Free Soldier F’ accounts it makes me so depressed.
They honestly view us as vermin, not worth the shite on their shoe.
It’s just so disgusting.
Kenya, Aden, Borneo, Afghanistan, Iraq. No way will they bend.
I’m wondering how this all relates to the fact so many Britons have Irish origins themselves. I’m surprised that doesn’t see to factor in. Could it be that Irish Britons simply want to fit in or are afraid to open their mouths? Surely some of those who served during the troubles had Irish origins-I’ve heard that even some of the “Black and Tans” did.
To me if so few UK vets oppose blanket amnesty it is their attitudes that demand an explanation not the fact that some US veterans will oppose such a move.
It could be that a low British respect for written law is a factor, and that Britons are more likely to see not a legal or moral issue but simply “Irish convictions and British amnesty is a ‘point’ for our team, while the reverse is a win for The Irish team.”
It could be that the British Institutions are very good at fostering in-group loyalty even putting it above the law. It could be that they have ways to socially punish, shame or intimidate any comrades who break ranks. It seems that a lot of British institutions would select for people with such “talents”.
To say the “some individuals should be held accountable” view of some US vets is “far from universal” is an understatement. US veterans are simply put not immune to the political divisions that affect the whole country. One reason the veterans can be more vocal in objections to blanket immunity is that the stigma of being “against the troops” can be extremely serious.
That said a lack of dissenting British Vets begs a massive question in my book. Given the fact the UK has had free press, suffrage (if limited), no recent history of severe repression (ei gulags) at home, and so many people with Irish origins makes it all extremely strange from my POV.
The Tories are really screwed here. The periods of Tory rule during the Troubles are rife with state crimes, if they don’t cover for the security & intelligence forces, those groups can seriously damage the Tory party by leaking. Recall, that’s how the RUC Special Branch wormed their way into the PSNI and took over the HET investigations.
Pissing off Nationalists and alienating any of them that may have voted for the Union from doing so, is about all this will realistically accomplish. Just one more thing the UK will have to apologise for down the line.
The Tory leadership contest shows that not a one of them has a plan for Brexit other than crashing out to WTO rules and blaming the EU for it. That’s hard border in Ireland. Majority for re-unification in NI & independence in Scotland. Thing is, I cannot see any of the Tory candidates either permitting either referendum, or recognising Scotland’s independence if they go ahead and run one without WM legislation. What does the EU do in that situation, what does the US then do? If only George Smiley was around to answer.
Penny Mordaunt been in?
Maybe exposing the practices that ” their boys ” indulged in when fighting dirty wars to retain colonies might enlighten the populist masses.
Telling that it has come to the fore again during this period. It really is a moment where reactionaries of all sorts are not putting a crisis to waste.
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