THE generals who demanded a ruling from the Labour government’s Attorney General that war with Iraq was legal before they would send their troops in, are now demanding that British troops must have immunity from prosecution for the alleged crimes that they have committed in Iraq.
In fact, they demanded a declaration on the legality of the war so that there would not be any prosecutions. They are now very angry that Blair has allowed a few.
At least six former Chiefs of the Defence Staff are due to attack the Labour government in the House of Lords for the numbers of investigations into the actions of British troops that have been authorised.
They are worried that these investigations are undermining the army’s chain of command.
There have been cases where soldiers have received jail sentences for offences against Iraqi civilian prisoners while officers, who allowed such conduct, did not receive so much as a caution.
Then there were cases where officers decided that no court martials were necessary, only to be outflanked by Scotland Yard investigations.
There have been 176 investigations, says the MoD. Of those, 151 have closed without action. One of these cases involved Trooper Kevin Williams. He was accused of murder following a Scotland Yard investigation that had been authorised by the Attorney General, but had the charges against him dropped.
The Williams case had earlier been dismissed by his commanding officer, which meant that he could not be tried by a military court martial.
The ex-commanders are saying that such cases are opening up a chasm between the armed forces and the politicians.
The ex-C-in-Cs are demanding assurances that the prosecutions will be stopped, and that British troops will not be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for ‘war crimes’.
Defence Minister Touhig said yesterday that there would have to be a ‘catastrophic failure’ for the International Criminal Court to become involved with British forces.
He added: ‘A commanding officer is uniquely placed to understand the circumstances of service life.
‘We intend to do nothing that will undermine that.’
This means that the government intends to stop any more investigations into the conduct of British troops and, where charges have been made, intend that they should be dropped. Furthermore, that it will adopt the US position on the ICC and in practice deny it any jurisdiction over British forces.
The ruling class knows that their rule depends on having the capitalist state – the army and the police forces – on call, ready to intervene at any moment to maintain the power of the bankers and bosses.
Labour knows well that such a decisive force must not be rubbed up the wrong way, or harmed by allowing judicial rulings on ‘Human Rights’ to get out of hand.
The armed forces are well aware that imperialist war is one huge atrocity from start to finish.
They are demanding assurances from the government that they will be allowed to carry on with their trade on behalf of the ruling class at home and abroad without any ‘malicious prosecutions’.
They will get all the reassurances that they require.
In fact, the only way to deal with imperialism and its crimes is through organising socialist revolutions.
These will overthrow the rule of the bankers and bosses, and in the process break up and disband the standing army, the police, the magistrates and the judiciary – all of the state forces who do the dirty work for imperialism.
This will clear the way for the formation of workers’ states that carry out socialist policies, and move forward to world socialism, consigning imperialism and its methods to the museums.