Joe Glenton is a hero….
Joe Glenton, a British soldier who refused to return to Afghanistan, has been jailed for nine months. Whether you like it or not the democracy that is supposedly being defended Afghanistan by British troops is not worth alot if people like Glenton are sent to prison. According to The Times military websites disagree:
Military websites drip with contempt. For many serving and ex-soldiers, this is the tale of a weak man whose words and actions give comfort to the enemy and, in the words of one, “mock the lives of every British soldier who has fought and died under our nation’s flag”.
Glenton, however, is far from alone in going AWOL. The Independent reports that there has been ‘more than 17,000 episodes of troops going AWOL since 2003. This figure tells its own story not just about the stress that the resource situation puts on British soldiers but also about how those actually fighting judge the worthiness of the conflict. No doubt amoung the 17,000 there are plenty of people who have felt the same way that Glenton did:
Glenton has said that he felt ashamed when he reflected on “the futility” of his time in Afghanistan: “When I joined, I was proud of being a soldier, but after I came back I couldn’t see what we had given to the country.”
His mother describes the choice that faced him:
Mrs Glenton said: “He was torn between his conscience and his loyalty to his colleagues.
I think it is telling that in sentencing Glenton Judge Advocate Emma Peters made no reference to the ethical dimension to Glenton’s actions:
“There are many soldiers in the army who have extremely unpleasant experiences, who watch friends die or suffer appalling injuries, but they have to return and do their duty.”
In other words Glenton is not allowed the luxury of forming an opinion about the worthiness of the operation he is engaged in or questioning it. No doubt military types will say this suppression of critical facilities is ‘necessary’; however, given the cases of torture and serious allegations that have been levelled against the British Army it is this critical facility that is needed and should be cultivated. Regardless of your position on the Afghan war; the imprisoning of Glenton is wrong and an affront to the cause that allegedly Britain is supposed to be fighting for in Afghanistan.