The Prophet Churchill?
Posted on the BBC news site on Sunday, May 28th:
BBC NEWS | UK | At least 1,000 UK soldiers desert: “More than 1,000 members of the British military have deserted since the start of the Iraq war, the BBC has learned.
Figures for those still missing are 86 from 2001, 118 from 2002, 134 from 2003, 229 from 2004, 377 from 2005, and 189 for this year so far.”
The rest of the article features UK government officials furiously back-pedalling, stating there is nothing unusual about these numbers, and that the number of soldiers away without leave has held steady. But, as British lawyer Justin Hugheston-Roberts tells the BBC, “I am approached regularly by people who are seeking to absent themselves from service. There has been an increase, a definite upturn.”
A few months ago I interviewed Ward Churchill for a piece on the North American anti-war movement for Siafu Magazine. During the interview he was emphatic that the only anti-war movement that had real impact during Vietnam were American soldiers who rebelled against their own commanders. He also went on to say that the only way the US government will end the occupation of Iraq is if the same type of resistance from within the army begins to develop. While we haven’t yet seen any grenades rolled under commanders’ bunks, echoes of Vietnam are growing.
According to the BBC, the US is “winding up” its investigation of the killing of at least 15 Iraqi civilians by American troops last November. U.S. officials are warning the report will be “shocking”: that American soldiers murdered Iraqi civilians in cold blood.
More recently, according to a Guardian report on May 21, 2006, American soldiers have been accused of attacking a wedding party in the village of Mukaradeeb and subsequently levelling several buildings:
[Haleema Shihab, who had attended the wedding,] lay there and a second round hit her on the right arm. By then her two boys lay dead. “I left them because they were dead,” she said. One, she saw, had been decapitated by a shell.
“I fell into the mud and an American soldier came and kicked me. I pretended to be dead so he wouldn’t kill me. My youngest child was alive next to me.”
Mrs Shibab’s description, backed by other witnesses, of an attack on a sleeping village is at odds with the American claim that they came under fire while targeting a suspected foreign fighter safe house.
She described how in the hours before dawn she watched as American troops destroyed the Rakat villa and the house next door, reducing the buildings to rubble.
As more of these events come public and outrage grows, including among the rank and file soldiers serving in the US Occupation Coalition, the war resisters movement in North America and the UK may transfer overseas, and we may see Churchill’s real anti-war movement begin.