An Open Letter to LCpl Joe Glenton

Discussion in 'The ARRSE Hole' started by wedge35, Oct 24, 2009.

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  1. Dear Joe,

    As you are a Lance Corporal in the Royal Logistic Corps and I was Sapper in the Royal Engineers, I thought I would write to you, junior soldier to junior soldier and let you know my thoughts on the actions you are currently taking. I have no idea why you originally decided to go AWOL from the army but I went AWOL once as well – for no particularly dramatic reason – and, like you, I have also deployed on operations (in my case, to Bosnia and Iraq). I like to think that I am reasonably well informed and as you are obviously an intelligent man, I hope that you will listen to what I have to say with an open mind.

    You have said on many occasions that the war in Afghanistan is illegal, and some of the people you have chosen to side with on this issue have supported and applauded your stance, whilst likening the arguments of those members of the armed forces who have concerns about the campaign in Afghanistan but who continue to serve to the infamous Nuremburg Defence – ‘I was only following orders’. This issue is worth examining in some detail as it highlights a number of points that I believe fatally weaken the position that you have taken.

    All soldiers are bound by the Law of Armed Conflict and, as you will know, all members of the British armed forces receive training in this area, both during normal annual training and immediately prior to an operational deployment. As junior soldiers, we have a clear obligation to refuse to carry out illegal orders, be they those that may break the Geneva Convention or those that conflict with theatre-specific rules of engagement. Professional soldiers have both a moral and legal responsibility to recognise when an order is illegal and an absolute obligation to refuse such orders; no one in the armed forces from the Chief of the General Staff to the most junior teenage Private could argue against that point and, indeed, all share a responsibility to be familiar with the Law of Armed Conflict as in applies ‘on the ground’. However, as ordinary soldiers, our competence in the matter only goes so far.

    As far as questions of the legality of any particular conflict are concerned, we must rely on the decisions of those who are qualified to judge, meaning the legal establishment headed by the Attorney General and the democratically-elected Government of the day. To take an example from the ‘Nuremburg era’, individual junior soldiers and officers cannot be held accountable for joining the German army or for their Government’s decision to invade the Soviet Union. That was – as the army saying has it – far above their pay scale. However, if that soldier, whilst taking part in Operation Barbarossa, obeyed an order to shoot a Soviet civilian, he would make himself a war criminal, entirely responsible for his actions. The distinction between the two is clear.

    This leads us on, Joe, to personal conscience and how that applies to us as junior soldiers. Whatever those that you currently choose to associate with may tell you, we live in a democratic country and, furthermore, one that does not practice conscription. Everyone who serves in the armed forces does so on a voluntary basis, without compulsion, and with a clear understanding of what they signed-up for. I did, you did and the nine thousand British troops currently in Afghanistan did as well. Anyone who decides that they disagree with the direction the country’s foreign policy is taking or, in light of their personal experiences decides that they no longer wish to be part of the profession of arms, can give one year’s notice and leave. They do not, however, gain the right to pick and choose which operations they deploy on whilst still serving – and for a very good reason. A military coup is unimaginable in Britain precisely because the army does not question its orders except at a level where people are qualified to do so. Your friends in the Stop the War movement would do well to think about where having an army of free-thinkers could lead – there would be some soldiers like yourself who’s views they would applaud to the rooftops but plenty of others who would enjoy nothing so much as to put them on the point of a bayonet. Societies with such armies do exist but thankfully Britain is not one of them. Were every soldier to follow your example, however, it would swiftly become one and under such circumstances we could all kiss our freedom goodbye. Be careful what you wish for.

    Finally, Joe, let us forget for a moment that you are a serving soldier and treat your case as simply that of a citizen exercising his freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. Take a look, if you would, at some of the people that are currently shouting themselves hoarse in support of your stance. Whilst there are many good and sincere people in the Stop the War movement, there are also those who represent the left-wing equivalent of the British National Party; tendencies, factions and Parties who would soak the country in blood as surely as would any fascist party, were they to gain power. How much freedom of conscience or freedom of speech do you think the Socialist Worker’s Party would be willing to grant you on any issue where you find yourself at odds with their point of view? In choosing to align yourself with such people for short term exposure, you have sided with the kind of totalitarian militant who uses peace as the basis of glib placard slogan and as a means to an end that I would hope you do not share. What do you imagine the fate of a Cuban soldier would be, were he to do what you have done?

    Joe, by your recent actions you have crossed from fulfilling your own moral code to giving comfort and succour to the enemy. You have gone from being someone that I could not agree with but certainly sympathise with, to someone who has betrayed his former colleagues, some of whom share your doubts and many of whom are currently numb with fear in the place you refused to go. Stop whilst you can. I share your liberal mind-set in many ways and, having witnessed the results of war at first hand, share your disgust at what conflict can mean in reality. But despite what those around you may say, you are not a hero. You are close to becoming a traitor – not to any abstract notion like the State, but to those who wear the same uniform as you and who you claim to care about.

    Joe: not in my name.


    D***y C******ne
  2. Outstanding! Are you going to send it to one of the papers?
  3. *Looks fondly upon the days of being shot as a punishment for cowardness and desertion*

    In all seriousness though, your not marching in my name nor the name of 99.9% of people on the military.

    Why is he even being allowed to march today, should be locked up till his court martial.
  4. Awesome. Letter to the Times needed.
  5. You could have done a shorten version, something along the lines of:

    You are a cowardly knob, I hope you die slowly.


    Most of the British army
  6. This :D
  7. Wot 'e said.
  8. Thanks. It's gone to a few 'quality papers' plus a couple of army magazines. I very much doubt it'll be published though - far too long. I just hope he reads it on ARRSE, if nowhere else.
  9. Well written and to the point.
  10. Short & to the point. 8)
  11. Impressive effort their matey,very well worded and with good depth to the argument.

    Hope a paper does print your letter...hopefully not The Sun who will edit it dow to 1 paragraph and totally change the context.
  12. He's on the news now.
  13. As a civilian who supports you lot.. may I add my disgust at that muppet as well.
  14. Excellent letter, thank you.
  15. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer