Your impressive “Armed Forces Day” supplement tells of brave deeds in desperate situations, but I fear it begs the question of whether UK troops should be in other folks’ lands at all.
We can be ‘wise after the event’ in recognising that Bush’s War on Iraq was genocidal and an undisciplined reaction to the New York atrocity of 2001, with the UK involved by ‘Yankee Poodle Dandy’ Blair on the basis on a distorted dossier on Saddam’s WMDs which proved non-existent. Britain has meddled for two centuries in Afghanistan to no apparent purpose, now following an involvement there in 1979 by Thatcher and Reagan to support the “Islamic Mujahideen” against the Soviet presence. Tom Driberg’s autobiography claims, convincingly I feel, that this was Cold-War motivated and misjudged. The USSR moved in after 14 pleas from the then democratic Afghan government, he notes, not for global reasons but because, like the West today, it didn’t want “Islamism”, as distinct from peaceful Muhammedism in its borders. The consequence is that the Mujahideen spawned the Taliban, to the grave detriment of women’s lives and status. These wars have taken vastly more lives than the sad 444 British losses, and have led entire communities to mistrust the West as predators. They are self-perpetuating, and young people will do well to avoid joining up to serve the sort of leaders the West has endured in recent decades. Let the UK say “Enough of War” and press for an empowered United Nations with minimum standards for all nations, buttressed by international legal and police services.