Joe Glenton, author of Soldier Box: Why I Won't Return to the War on Terror
, wrote this comment piece
in the Guardian
yesterday:Woolwich attack: of course British foreign policy had a role
While nothing can justify the killing of a British soldier, the link to Britain's vicious occupations abroad cannot be ignored.
I am a former soldier. I completed one tour of duty in Afghanistan, refused on legal and moral grounds to serve a second tour, and spent five months in a military prison as a result. When the news about the attack in Woolwich
broke, by pure coincidence Ross Caputi
was crashing on my sofa. Ross is a soft-spoken ex-US marine turned film-maker who served in Iraq and witnessed the pillaging and irradiation of Falluja
. He is also a native of Boston, the scene of a recent homegrown terror attack
. Together, we watched the news, and right away we were certain that what we were seeing was informed by the misguided military adventures in which we had taken part.
So at the very outset, and before the rising tide of prejudice and pseudo-patriotism fully encloses us, let us be clear: while nothing can justify the savage killing in Woolwich yesterday of a man since confirmed to have been a serving British soldier, it should not be hard to explain why the murder happened.
These awful events cannot be explained in the almost Texan terms of Colonel Richard Kemp, who served as commander of British forces in Afghanistan in 2001. He tweeted on last night that they were "not about Iraq or Afghanistan", but were an attack on "our way of life". Plenty of others are saying the same.
But let's start by examining what emerged from the mouths of the assailants themselves. In an accent that was pure London, according to one of the courageous women who intervened at the scene, one alleged killer claimed he was "… fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan …". It is unclear whether it was the same man, or his alleged co-assailant, who said "… bring our [Note: our] troops home so we can all live in peace".