11:44am Monday 25th October 2010
THE Ministry of Defence has condemned the leaking of the US military logs because it has made the atmosphere in Iraq more difficult for British troops to operate in.
We, too, deplore anything that puts the lives of our brave soldiers at risk.
However, it is not really the leak that is doing the damage. It is the information that has been leaked that is causing the difficulty.
If the leaks showed that the US forces had behaved with moral correctness, there would not be a problem.
The problem is that they do not show that.
War is messy. In the heat of battle, things do not conform to plans and things go wrong. In war, the outcome of such accidents can be horrific.
But the logs appear to show that by strategy, rather than by accident, the US was prepared to turn a blind eye to allegations that Iraqi forces were torturing Iraqi detainees.
The logs contain numerous reports of prisoners being shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. There are reports of murder and rape.
The US military seems to have tolerated it because it was Iraqi on Iraqi violence.
Yet the Allies’ strongest explanation for their invasion of Iraq was to halt the atrocious violence that the Iraqi regime, led by Saddam Hussein, was meting out on the Iraqi people.
If we replace one lot of Iraqi on Iraqi violence with another lot, what have we achieved?
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said yesterday: “I am assuming the US administration will want to provide its own answer. It’s not for us to tell them how to do that.”
But it is. Mr Clegg, a long-time critic of the war, is now doing what he once condemned Tony Blair for doing: being acquiescent to the US.
The war was fought in our name. We therefore deserve explanation of what has been done in our name, and assurance that no illegal torture is currently being done in our name.
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