Slightly more balanced view

#1
From today's D/Telegraph. Maybe this is the start of common sense on this matter. (I know there is a thread about the trial but think this merits a new lead-in)
Pillorying the Army will not help right to triumph in Iraq
By Patrick Bishop
(Filed: 20/01/2005)

A major war crime, an ineradicable blot on the honour of the British Army? That is how it was presented in many of yesterday's British papers.

"The Army's shame" was the headline in The Times. The Daily Mail went one further. It was "Britain's shame". Everyone seized on the Army prosecutor's description of the images as "shocking and appalling".

For pundits across the Arab world, the images emerging from a military court house in Osnabruck were yet more evidence of the brutality of the Anglo-American presence in Iraq. But are they?

The reaction of Arab commentators is relatively easy to explain. Opportunities to occupy the high moral ground are rare and, when they come along, they jump on them.

The tone of the British press is slightly harder to fathom. How is it that the alleged actions of three lowly soldiers, reprehensible though they may be, severely undermine the reputation of the other 111,777?

If the standards that sections of the media are applying to the Army were imposed on doctors, the entire medical profession would have to hang its head every time a GP went off the rails. Ditto policemen, lawyers, accountants - even journalists.

The reason for this searing scrutiny is political. For those opposed to the Iraq war, the scandal reinforces the argument that, launched as it was on a false prospectus and prosecuted (at least on the American side) with incompetence and disregard for human life, all those engaged in it are morally tainted.

The whole adventure may be riddled with ethical confusions. But it is grossly unfair to link the alleged wrongdoing of a handful with the blameless conduct of the 65,000 men and women - half the British Army - who have rotated through Iraq.

Not just blameless, but admirable. Anyone who has seen British soldiers at work in and around Basra can vouch for the cheerfulness and restraint with which they go about their task. Their living conditions are grim. Fun is an alien concept. The natives for the most part may appear to be friendly, but the threat of an ambush or a car bomb is never far away.

No one wants to be there, but no one really complains - at least no more than usual. Despite the daily diet of depressing news, commanders persist in believing that the mission is worthwhile and that Iraq will get there in the end.

So far, 79 soldiers have died and 800 have been wounded. To the anti-war lobby, that is all the more reason for getting out. To the military mind, the sacrifice makes it all the more necessary to "crack on".

The soldiers will rightly be angry that the sensational content of the court martial will overshadow their successes and achievements. The tone of the coverage will surely have a negative effect on morale.

At the same time, it will encourage Arab critics of the war - the overwhelming majority in the regional media - to carry on claiming some sort of moral equivalence between the actions of the invaders and the regime they overthrew.

The pundits are discriminating in whom they choose to attack. They know perfectly well that, at any hour of the day or night in prisons in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt, far worse is being done than anything allegedly perpetrated by the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. They also know that no one will ever stand trial for the wrong they have done.

Prudence and a sense of self-preservation, however, prevent them from pointing this out. Nor do they huff and puff quite so indignantly when faced with the sadism of the insurgents.

Oppressive regimes in the neighbourhood will be grateful for a boost to their trusty old arguments. Why do you accuse us of torture, detention without trial, judicial murder, they will exclaim with a triumphant smile, when you, the supposed civilisers, are alleged to be up to the same tricks?

Of course, there is no comparison between what allegedly went on in Basra and the systematic brutality that underpins the Arab regimes. In the mind of the Arab street, that doesn't really matter. Memories are short and the ability to distinguish between degrees of oppression is rare. Thus a 16-year-old Baghdad boy, Safaa Hadi, was quoted yesterday as saying: "I'm starting to hate the British even more than the Americans. They are dogs."

Young Safaa has only to go to the thieves' market in the town centre to see from what evil the Americans and the British have delivered him. On sale, apparently for amusement rather than instruction, are DVDs showing beatings, torture and executions, carried out by henchmen of the old regime - including Uday Hussein himself - with a bored nonchalance that is almost as sickening as the violence.

This is not an argument for turning a blind eye to wrongdoing by coalition forces. Morally - as well as practically - higher authority must be shown to punish abuses whenever they come to light if the allies' shell of righteousness is to remain intact.

According to Jack Fairweather, our steadfast Baghdad correspondent, the ordinary Iraqis who might be expected to be most upset by the alleged revelations from Basra seem relatively unconcerned. Either they have become used to such stories or they are more concerned with the daily horror of kidnappings, beheadings, car bombs and suicide attacks.

It is a sound judgment. It is the insurgents who are the real enemy of peace and justice in Iraq. Unless they are defeated, Iraq will never have peace. Pillorying the British Army for the alleged misdeeds of a trio of NCOs can only undermine that crucial fight.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.
 
#2
Is there a reason this didn't go into the existing thread?
 
#3
Interesting article.
I suspect many hold this view, however the Lions share of NEWS has the world thinking otherwise.
Despite all of this, hopefully, somehow, those on trial will get a fair trial. Some in the media, as the article indicates for political reasons, are doing their best to see they do not.
Can you imagine this same scenario occuring during WW2, or Korea?
 
#4
The problem is that articles like this dont sell papers! 8O :(

In todays media obsessed world, the great unwashed (read sun readers) want big bold headlines accompanying big bold sweeping statements!

No longer does well balanced, structured and impartial reporting take precidence in the media. It's all reality tv p1sh and fake celebrities that are popular, as people try to ignore their own sad little lives and immerse themselves in other peopls lives. :roll:

Im off down under for a can of XXXX and some tanned surfer girls :twisted:
 
#5
PartTimePongo said:
Is there a reason this didn't go into the existing thread?
Sorry mod. I thought that, whilst it was similar, it (tried to) express a different point.

Without being rude, stick it where you like.
 
#6
Nice to see this. I was shocked at the front pages yesterday and have to say that the intensity of coverage was due in part to it being a quiet news period right now. Obviously this case is very serious and the ramifications important but the Torygraph piece hits the nail on the head about how OTT the coverage was.

Was it the photo developer shop assistant who sold the pictures to the newspapers or were they leaked at a later stage? I wonder whether the media coverage of this court martial would have been more sensible if the pictures were not available.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#7
I am pretty sure that the photos were released - after having been pixellated to protect identities - at the behest of the Court. It is a legal matter, and one over which the MoD seems to have very little control. The Courts Martial are EXTREMELY independant, and if they want to release these photos a week before the Iraqi election, then they will do so :oops:

I understand that no money was involved this time over the release of them - makes a change!
 
#8
Oldredcap, you beat me to it!
When I saw that article I was quite heartened to see something which didn't sensationalise this whole affair.
Perhaps there are a tiny minority of journos who aren't complete scum :twisted:
 
#9
OldRedCap said:
PartTimePongo said:
Is there a reason this didn't go into the existing thread?
Sorry mod. I thought that, whilst it was similar, it (tried to) express a different point.

Without being rude, stick it where you like.
On a charge for idle posting, OldRedCap. :wink:

Seriously, thanks for posting outstanding piece of commonsense.
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
#10
The Daily Telegraph - 20 Jan 05 said:
......

The soldiers will rightly be angry that the sensational content of the court martial will overshadow their successes and achievements. The tone of the coverage will surely have a negative effect on morale.

At the same time, it will encourage Arab critics of the war - the overwhelming majority in the regional media - to carry on claiming some sort of moral equivalence between the actions of the invaders and the regime they overthrew.

......
I don't suppose that those who released the photographs and especially all those involved in publishing them can be prosecuted in any way for endangering the lives of British servicemen is there ?

I imagine there must be a Pontious Pilate clause hidden deep somewhere in the legal tomes preserving the low-lifes' 'right' to shout their mouths off while remaining above all responsibility.

:evil:
 

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