Ex-UK soldier Ben Griffin: Why I we will not fight for Queen and country
In 1914, fighting "For King and Country" was the main propaganda message used to justify sending millions of young men to fight in the first world war. Over 700,000 were killed, many more seriously wounded.
As David Cameron, Michael Gove and others seek to use the centenary of the first world war to promote a nationalistic view of war as a "noble cause", it is worth recalling what Ben Griffin had to say about "that false religion patriotism", when he spoke at the Oxford University Union debate in favour of the motion "We Will Not Fight For Queen and Country".
Ben Griffin is a former SAS soldier in the British army who in 2006 refused to fight in the Iraq war. The events that he witnessed in Iraq, and in particular the conduct of US forces, led him to decide not to return there. He informed his commanding officer of his intentions and also of his opinion that "Tony Blair and the Government had lied to the country and had deceived every British serviceman and woman serving in Iraq."
In 2008, after he spoke at the Stop the War Coalition World Against War demonstration regarding British complicity in extraordinary rendition and torture by US forces in Iraq, the British government had him served with an injunction effectively to silence him from critiscising UK foreign policy.
Ben Griffin has remained active in the anti-war movement, particularly in the organisation Veterans for Peace UK, which he and other veterans from the British armed forces formed in 2011.
In 1914 it was "For King and Country". Today it is "For Queen and Country". Ex-British soldier Ben Griffin says why we should reject the "false religion" patriotism used to take us into war.
We Will NOT Fight For Queen and Country
By Ben Griffin
Fight for Queen and Country, what does that mean? It is a jingoistic phrase dreamt up by some propaganda merchant intent on stoking the fire of that false religion patriotism.
The idea of fighting for Queen and Country is held tight by those who never have and never will actually fight.
It is held by those who long to bask in the reflected glory of war.
It is held by those who have no experience of the suffering that war inflicts.
It is an idea held up by those who gain the most from war, Politicians, Generals, The Arms Industry and The Media.
It is a phrase that is dredged up again and again to stifle dissent and build unquestioning support for the aggression we choose to unleash.
We must look at what lies behind this decrepit phrase.
Who is it doing the fighting?
A well-trained and professional force that’s highest collective desire is to go to war, any war.
This force does not fight for Queen and Country. it fights when it is told to fight.
Even when the Generals believe that a certain war is illegal or un-winnable or detrimental to the long-term security of these isles, when it comes to the crunch they always want war.
What does the fighting involve?
Well if you believe the media or the citations written for medals awarded you might imagine that the fighting consists of bayonet charges, lone hand grenade assaults on enemy positions or modern-day spitfire pilots scrambling to some noble action.
In my experience the reality is a lot darker:
- Long periods of waiting punctuated by unforeseen moments of extreme violence.
- Having your legs blown off by an IED.
- A supposed ally shooting holes in your chest.
- Dying in a helicopter crash.
- Burning to death in a transport plane.
- Being beaten to death by an angry mob.
- Being shot in the face as you break into someones home.
The reality is setting up thousands of checkpoints in the country you have occupied, disrupting the lives of the people and then killing them when they approach too quickly or fail to stop in time.
The reality is raiding people’s houses, using explosives to enter homes. Detaining previously unknown males some as young as 15 and handing them over to be tortured. Whilst their families are left to fend for themselves, Traumatised by your action.
The reality is killing people from the safety of an attack helicopter or drone control room. As if you are playing a computer game, with no regard for the lives of people who have been dehumanised.
Haji, Raghead, Sand Nigger, Chogie, Argie, Paddy, Gook, Chink, Jap. Kraut, Hun. All terms used by our armed forces. The product of a society which still believes in its superiority over other people’s and cultures.
We pretend that we wage war for higher, noble causes. We claim that our armed forces fight for Freedom, Democracy or Human Rights.
This is not the case. We wage war according to Policy. It is a choice determined by Government. This policy is influenced by those who gain the most from war. Politicians, Generals, The Arms Industry and The Media.
These scoundrels always predict victory. Always insist that violence is the answer. They Ignore the inevitability of unforeseen consequences. The existence of Blow-back The fact that it is our own policy that creates our enemies.
They deny that we have been defeated to maintain support for current and future bloodletting.
The reasons they give for starting wars rarely match the reasons they give for continuing wars and rarely match the actual outcomes.
These scoundrels currently hold the noble position of backing a military junta in Mali against insurgents that we decided to arm in Libya.
Before that they celebrated the Arab Spring whilst turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabian aggression in Bahrain. Where weapons that we supplied were used by our Saudi allies to kill civilians engaged in non-violent protest. Their silence in this matter shines a light on their complicity.
In both Iraq and Afghanistan, once the reasons for going to war were found to be false, or unattainable or just forgotten, those with a vested interest in continuing the wars resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the book.
They cultivated the myth of the soldier as hero.
They told you that you might not understand why the war continued but that you should support the soldiers.
They Told you that to stop the pointless slaughter would be sacrilege to those heroes that had already died.
Truth is the first casualty of war and tonight you will see this phenomenon first hand. You will hear men speak in reasonable tones using educated language to mount a defence of Fighting for Queen and Country.
They will argue that at the very least we must be ready to defend this country. But they are talking about a hypothetical situation. The Taliban are not going to invade, The Chinese are not massing on the coast of France.
From positions of vested interest they will try to convince you that Fighting for Queen and Country is your highest duty. But what they are really calling for is a continuation of business as usual. Fighting and killing in accordance with their policy. Which is designed to fulfill their interests, their greed, their ambition.
I am a Human Being and my allegiance is not to Queen and Country but to the whole of Humanity.
I no longer accept the lies which perpetuate war.
I no longer accept that violence can lead to Peace.
Never again will I be complicit in the killing and torture of my Brothers and Sisters.
Never again will accept the vile religion of Patriotism.
I refuse to pull on that rancid uniform.
I refuse to fight for Queen and Country.
Source: Veterans for Peace UK