Remembrance Sunday and The Afghanistan/Iraq Conflicts

Today is the day we remember all those who have died in conflict fighting to preserve our freedom.

Since my earliest childhood memory of men and women standing around the Cenotaph in warm black coats, silently laying wreaths of bright red poppies, it has been about those who fought in WW1 and WW2. Now, though, it must include those who have, sadly, been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For me, that brings confusion.

Both of the world wars were just that – they were global. They were about fighting to protect our freedom against those who sought to invade and conquer us.

In Iraq and Afghanistan the conflicts are different in that we have chosen to invade those countries – albeit with the excuse we are ultimately protecting our home country from terrorist attack. Despite what Foreign Secretary David Miliband writes in today’s Mail On Sunday, the argument is still not convincing.

Sir Jock Stirrup, Head of the Armed Forces, said on the Andrew Marr show this morning:

“We haven’t done a good enough job of explaining to the public what our strategy is”.

That is because there cannot be a strategy against a foe that uses the unpredictable tactics of the terrorist and promotes our presence in their homeland as that of the invader. Yes, you can ‘take the fight to the terrorists’ and kill hundreds in battle, thereby reducing the numbers but you cannot change the mindset, or the radicalisation of future generations.

As I listened to the bugler at my local cenotaph service occasionally missing the notes and stopping during his performance of The Last Post, I acknowledged there are those in this country who would try to claim that speaking out against our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is being unsupportive of our troops. It is not.

To speak out against an unjust and legally dubious conflict is, in reality, being totally supportive of those who do not have a choice!

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