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“Laws are silent in times of war” … Cicero

Posted by Big John on December 9, 2013

The horror of war in Afghanistan has not changed since the 19th century when Rudyard Kipling wrote these words …

“When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.”

For some reason I was reminded of these words when reading about the Taliban fighter who was very near to death after being blasted by fire from an Apache helicopter, and was ‘helped on his way‘ by Royal Marine Sergeant Alex Blackman.

What this marine did was against the ‘rules of war’, but I am quite sure that these rules are broken on a fairly regular basis, and in the wicked waste of human lives that is the Afghan conflict no such ‘rules’ apply to the tactics of the Taliban.

Sergeant Blackman has been sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison, and obviously he should be made to suffer the consequences of his actions, but he is a highly regarded experienced fighting man, and if I was being held hostage in some Gawd-forsaken hole, the first face that I would hope to see come through the door, would be …

…   THIS ONE !

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4 Responses to ““Laws are silent in times of war” … Cicero”

  1. Whether or not the Taliban “play fair” is beside the point. If we believe that we are fighting a just fight (and, personally, I am less than certain about that), then we owe it to ourselves (not to the enemy, not to the publicists, not to the historians of future ages, but to ourselves), to conduct ourselves in as impeccably moral a manner as we can. If we compromise on the basis of some self-serving argument such as “They would have done the same to us”, then we have lost the moral argument and descended to the level of those we repudiate.

    It is possible that other British servicemen and women have done similar things and the Blackman was the unlucky one who got caught doing it. That, however, is not a valid argument in his defence. We do not let burglars, forgers and murderers off because they are the unlucky ones who got caught. That would lead to the destruction of that precious thing we call civilization.

    Blackman did something heinous; he got caught; and he has been sentenced. Those who try to make out that he is some sort of unlucky hero who ought to be allowed to go free are guilty of the worst sort of moral relativism.

  2. Big John said

    Nice to hear from you once again, ‘Tiger’, and as usual you make some fair points.
    However, I don’t seek to defend Blackman anymore than I would defend the actions of those who “gave no quarter” in other wars. In fact, as I said ..

    ..”and obviously he should be made to suffer the consequences of his actions”.

    I merely draw attention to the British public’s ambivalent attitude to those who kill in their name …

    “For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck ‘im out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;”

    More Kipling .. :-)

  3. rummuser said

    There is always the conflict between wanting to be a human being and a killing machine and this will not be the first such incident nor the last. I have blogged about a recently released book about a pilot escaping from a POW camp in Pakistan and the story shows how human beings helped those prisoners. In real life, such things stand out and I would also like to see the same guy come through that door.

  4. Gabbygeezer said

    The best thing to do about incidents of any kind in Afghanistan is to get out of there and stay out. I think Sgt. Blackman is as much a victim as the “enemy” he victimized.

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