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Suborn the Soldiers, says Ian Hamilton QC

This article was first published on Ian Hamilton's personal blog on 3 January 2010 and subsequently published by The Firm magazine. Neither source is currently (September 2016) available online.

The former Head of the Armed Forces in Scotland, Major General Andrew Mackay, warned that the MoD was "institutionally incapable" of succeeding in the region (Afghanistan) because it had failed to adapt the realities of 21st century conflict.

The above quotation is taken from a recent SNP Press release. It misses the point. The point is that no Scottish soldier should be in Afghanistan. Indeed no British soldier should be there.

I assert this principle:-

A democratic country can only go to war when there is a clear mandate from the people to do so. Without such a mandate any instructions to our armed forces to take life is a war crime of which the Government is guilty.

The Government which sent our soldiers to war was elected by only 35% of those voting. The total electorate is much greater. Probably less than one in ten of us want to see this bloodshed in Afghanistan. We do not know the exact figure. The Government has made no attempt to ascertain from the people if it has a mandate to take life in Afghanistan. It clearly had no mandate for Iraq. In time Blair will be prosecuted as a war criminal for Iraq. It is about Afghanistan that we are now concerned.

I want to make a clear distinction here between the squadie who bears the brunt of our illegal assault on the people of Afghanistan. It is he who dies. It is he who sees his mates blown limbless. I have nothing but respect for them. Were I a citizen of Wootton Bassett I too would stand in daily homage to the dead as they are brought home.

But the leaders of the common soldiers are different. We have no clear war aims. We have no clear exit strategy. We know we are supporting an illegal government there. We know that the most likely war aim is to increase the profits of American business and of the arms manufacturers of the whole western world, including the jackals of British industry.

These are our war aims and they are illegal. It is a crime to pursue them. Anyone carrying commissioned rank must know this. Such a person should be reminded that it is not a defence to claim that his actions are in obedience to superior orders. Every officer in the armed forces should be persuaded to disobey the commands of their own immediate superiors. They should be warned that they are guilty of a war crime if they embark their men in aircraft bound for Afghanistan or train them for warfare in that theatre. To warn them they are committing a crime is the duty of us all.

Why are none of our politicians saying what I have just written?

I will tell you why. To say so risks the jail. It is a crime against the law of the land to attempt to suborn members of the armed forces from carrying out the lawful orders of their superiors. But these orders must be lawful. I assert that to order soldiers to take action in an illegal war is not a lawful order. That is my defence.

If I have committed a crime I challenge the Lord Advocate to prosecute me. I don’t think she will. It would mean proving that the Afghan War is a legal war. I don’t believe for a moment that she can prove this or will even try.

But I may be wrong………………………………………

Watch this space………………………………………….