Islamisamizdat

Shaykh Daoud’s Blog

Archive for December 2008

That Alternative Christmas Message

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This is the Translation of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s Alternative Christmas Message taken off the Channel 4 website, that is causing so much hoo-ha. I can’t see what all the fuss is about, unless Christians – and especially Christian leaders who’ve made such a song-and-dance about their public religiosity – don’t really want to be called back to the Message of Christ; but, then, that would be another story.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/alternative-christmas-message/articles/translation-of-the-alternative-christmas-message

Translation of the Alternative Christmas Message

Translation of the Alternative Christmas Message

FEATURES WEDNESDAY 24 DECEMBER 2008

Read the translation of the Alternative Christmas Message, delivered by the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain. 

The Almighty created the universe for human beings and human beings for Himself.

He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to make every effort to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life. 

On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.

All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society.  Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice. 

All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity’s rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ. 

The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. The solution to today’s problems is a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises is to follow the Prophets – they were sent by the Almighty for the good of humanity.

Today, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of the nations of the world. The response to these demands must be real and true. The prerequisite to this change is a change in goals, intentions and directions. If tyrannical goals are repackaged in an attractive and deceptive package and imposed on nations again, the people, awakened, will stand up against them.

Fortunately, today, as crises and despair multiply, a wave of hope is gathering momentum. Hope for a brighter future and hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them – and this is what the Almighty has promised.

We believe, Jesus Christ will return, together with one of the children of the revered Messenger of Islam and will lead the world to love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ and Abrahamic faiths is to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age. I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the earth.

Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood for humanity. I wish you every success and happiness.”

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Written by Daoud Rosser-Owen

December 27, 2008 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Armed Forces Act 2006

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Second Comment

On 1 January 2009, the Armed Forces Act 2006 begins to come into force to be fully implemented by October, replacing the various service acts that preceded it including the Armed Forces Act 2001.

The Preamble to the 2001 Act stated on 11 May 2001:

“An Act to continue the Army Act 1955, the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957; to make further provision in relation to the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence Police; and for connected purposes…”

Mr Kevan Jones (Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Minister of Defence) wrote in a written ministerial statement on 7 October 2008 about the 2006 Act (Hansard):

“The legislation will be brought into effect in October 2009. We do, however, plan to maintain momentum by making the necessary legislative changes to enable the director of service prosecutions, created under the Armed Forces Act 2006, to prosecute all cases under the existing Service Discipline Acts from 1 January 2009. We will bring before Parliament in the autumn the necessary secondary legislation to achieve this.”

There are two extremely serious flaws in this new Act and the thinking behind it, one of which is implied in the Preamble quoted above.

These flaws are, firstly, the virtually complete absence of a fresh appraisal or new thinking about the defence posture of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in the 21st Century from the underlying assumptions of the 1950s-era service acts; and, secondly, as the Emplaw website (http://www.emplaw.co.uk/researchfree-redirector.aspx?StartPage=data%2f200506131.htm) commented on the 2006 Act:

“One of the most important purposes of the Armed Forces Act 2006 is to establish a single permanent Court Martial, covering all three Services, to replace the one-off courts martial that have previously had to be convened for each trial. The intention is that there should be “a single, harmonised system governing all members of the armed forces” (see para 16 of the explanatory notes to the 2006 Act (pdf version)).

Mr Jones had commented in the statement quoted above:

“When it is implemented, the Armed Forces Act 2006 will allow us to replace the three current Service Discipline Acts and other armed forces legislation with a single system of service law. The Service Discipline Acts, which have provided the legal basis for discipline in the armed forces since the 1950s, will be repealed in due course.”

The implications of these seem to have escape comment by the “Tribunes of the People”, which further vitiates any claim to a cosy status as Lord Macaulay’s “Fourth Estate of the Realm”.

Second Flaw

To take the second flaw first; this appears to be a further capricious twist to New Labour’s revolutionary assault on the Common Law and Magna Carta.

Enshrined in these was the principle of the judgement of one’s peers, most clearly expressed through trial by jury.

The form of that peer judgement that evolved for the armed forces was the court martial, and the serviceman – and latterly woman – could rely on the panel of officers who made up the court being chosen from those who had faced the conditions, or similar ones, in which the indicted offence occurred. The prosecuting officer was one who was serving in a similar deployment, and the accused’s “friend” also came from just that environment. So everyone knew and had experienced what was on trial, and was as far as possible an expert in those matters.

All officers had to study the Manual of Military – or appropriate other service – Law and King’s (or Queen’s) Regulations so as to be ready to serve either as prosecutor or defender. Professional lawyers were rarely involved, and when they were they tended to be servicemen themselves unless the offence was under the catch-all provision for “civil offences” – Section 70 of the Army Act 1955.

It would have been unthinkable to have the commanding officers of infantry battalions sitting in judgement on a naval captain whose ship had been involved in a collision, let alone civilian justices who had never served considering a refusal to obey under fire what the accused claimed was an unlawful command.

Yet these potential travesties are all too likely in “a single permanent Court Martial, covering all three Services, to replace the one-off courts martial that have previously had to be convened for each trial”.

And there are the additional dangers of senior officers detailed to this permanent Court Martial getting out of date (rapidly so in war time) and lacking experience of the actual current situations facing the servicemen and women – which would be prima facie unjust; and of letting loose professional lawyers into this world that is incomprehensible to the average civilian at the best of times.

There were, indeed, travesties that occurred under the “old” (pre-2006 Act) system.

A famous one was the Court Martial of Lt Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant of the Bushveldt Carbineers in South Africa during the Second Boer War, and his subsequent execution at Pretoria Jail on 27 February 1902 by a firing squad provided by the Cameron Highlanders. There were others where Military Law was used in an insurrectionary situation such as in Ireland in 1916-21.

In all probability, the IRA men who were shot would now be covered by the APGC1977: assuming that is that the UK, unlike the USA, still abides by the Geneva Conventions.

It is relevant that later revisions and amendments of the Army Act 1955 stipulate quite unequivocally that all service personnel are bound under the Act by the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 which it incorporates.

It is to be hoped that this is preserved in the Armed Services Acts, and that the dangerous claim of Dr John Reid when he was Secretary of State for Defence that the Geneva Conventions were “out of date” in the era of the Global War On Terrorism has been disregarded and scorned.

This point leads to the consideration of the First Flaw.

First Flaw

The Army Discipline Act under which Martial Law was being applied in Ireland of that time had been passed in 1913 (and that in turn was based on the Army Act 1881), and it has been commented that the particular provisions of that were not repealed or modified until 1930 when the death penalty was removed for all offences other than mutiny and those civil offences for which capital punishment could be applied.

This is germane. The 1930 Army Act is the basic document that the 1955 Army Act grew out of.

The Armed Forces Acts 2001 and 2006, as I pointed out in the First Comment of this (below), are virtually word-for-word the Army Act 1955. Can the flaw be seen, now?

The 1930 Act was the legal code under which the British Army conducted itself during the Second World War, the opening stages of the Vietnam War, the Partition of India, the early years of the Malayan Emergency, the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya, EOKA in Cyprus, and the Korean War.

The British Empire was at its height, by many criteria, in 1940. We didn’t finally finish leaving the Empire until the mid-to-late 1960s. Some would quibble that we still haven’t left the last vestiges, such as Belize and the South Atlantic Dependencies, and there are many Irishmen who would point to Ulster.

Be that as it may – and, actually, it doesn’t affect my point, merely embellishes it as I will develop – why is the role and posture of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in the opening decade of the 21st Century being conditioned by thinking that might have been original in the early decades of the 20th? That, and a bureaucrats’ obsession with impractical “tidiness” no matter which real people suffer as a result.

To state it baldly. The Army Acts of 1881, 1913, and 1930 were promulgated when Britain had that Empire upon which the Sun never set. The thinking which they enshrined was suitable for an Army that was policing and defending such an Empire, and the Navy Acts of similar years were framed for the Royal Navy that was keeping the seaways safe for that Empire.

The Army Act 1955 still contains the underlying philosophy of Empire. And the Armed Forces Act 2006 is virtually word-for-word the same Act. Therefore, the concepts and assumptions which the new Act promulgates are, effectively, those of 1955, which were those of 1930, which were those of 1913, which were those of 1881.

But – let me put it simply for any parliamentarians or central government bureaucrats who might read this – in 2008 Britain does not have an Empire: we have not had an Empire for about 50 years. So why do Her Majesty’s Armed Forces have an Imperial defence profile? Is it so that we can supply auxiliary legions for the USA?

There needs to be a fundamental – a root-and-branch – reappraisal of what HMF are for, and on which services most money needs to be spent.

The Army should not be being used to prosecute illegal wars of aggression against far-flung places, but should be ready to defend the UK Home Base and the Dependent Territories. A lot of that defence posture can be done by the Territorial and Reserve Forces.

We need to keep the seaways safe for our trade and for the support of the dependencies. This means an emphasis on the Royal Navy and Royal Marines – it also implies a key role for the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Air Force.

And then there is the matter of disaster relief. This has been identified as an area in which the military is uniquely well equipped to give effective and instant support to.

And within this simple statement of what HMF should be doing, it should not be beyond the wit of bureaucrats and politicians (although it may cause considerable strain to it) to produce a viable and affordable non-Imperial defence posture.

It may well be that we should be looking to the later years of the 18th Century, rather than those of the 20th Century, for inspiration. And perhaps the phrase ‘Balance of Power’ might come to mind?

Written by Daoud Rosser-Owen

December 20, 2008 at 12:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Where is the sense of proportion?

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Where is the sense of proportion in all this?

It’s been just over 40 years and a tragic average of 100 British people a year have died as a result of terrorism. But where has the sense of proportion gone?

That figure is a tenth of the number of people who die each year while waiting for a transplant. The global figure of some 4,000 British people who have died anywhere in the world in those 40 years from terrorism, is approximately the same as were killed on the United Kingdom’s roads in 2003 alone.

And yet it is the paltry though tragic figure of 100 deaths a year that has been adduced to justify the destruction of our ancient liberties, and the introduction of police state behaviour into the kingdom. In this process, the police has been transformed into a standing army of occupation enforcing arbitrary rules upon the citizenry. And a whole community has been capriciously demonised. How did this come about; and what happened to any sense of proportion?

Just over 40 years ago, on 5 October 1968, a significant event took place in Derry that in many ways was the beginning of the most recent of the Irish Troubles.

This was the Civil Rights March that became the target of violence and led to a brutal sectarian war between the two Northern Irish communities of Roman Catholics (known variously as the Republicans or the Nationalists) and Protestants (the Loyalists).

Inevitably, the police – later known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC, just before the New Labour government in Westminster killed it off and renamed it the Police Service of Northern Ireland – were caught in the middle.

However, tragically they were not unbiased owing to a low level of recruitment among the Catholics, for whatever reasons, and the Protestants of the Orange Order were prominently represented in the RUC Special Constabulary known as the “B Specials” that was charged with the Internal Security.

The violence spun out of control over the following months, with some posturing by the government of the Republic of Ireland, and with paramilitary organisations of both communities each claiming to be defending their own.

Eventually these paramilitaries themselves fractionalised into mutually hostile groups within the communities: the Official Irish Republican Army dropped out leaving the field to the Provisional IRA, and the Ulster Defence Association birthed the Ulster Volunteer Force.

The RUC was unable to contain the situation.

After three days and nights of rioting, in what came to be known as the Battle of the Bogside, the Army was called in, with two battalions – one was the 1st Battalion of the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire (1PWO) and the other the 3rd Battalion of the Light Infantry (3LI) – being deployed on 14 August 1969 into the centre of Londonderry and into the Falls Road area of Belfast.

Matters got worse and worse and the strife lasted longer and longer, spreading on occasion to the UK mainland and beyond.

The Republicans were able to find refuge, and operate from, bases in the Republic of Ireland and were able to raise large sums of money in the United States of America. Their fundraisers collected with the connivance of the American federal authorities.

PIRA individuals wanted by the UK were able to live openly in the USA, which consistently refused extradition on the grounds that they wouldn’t get a fair trial in the UK. So much for the Americans’ hypocritically condemning states as “sponsoring terrorism”.

These Troubles lasted until 2000 – 32 years. As a consequence of the violence, 3,312 people died.

The violence in Northern Ireland is undeniable in its provenance, because neither PIRA (or the other Republican fractions) nor the UDA/UVF denied their involvement and would certainly admit to their actions. They would normally give notice to the RUC (with a codeword for checking that it wasn’t a hoax) of some “spectacular” that was about to happen – like, for example a car bombing of the Europa Hotel in Belfast (a favourite target).

They operated in a legal limbo. By their own claims they were protected by the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions 1977 (APGC1977), however they also committed acts that would be considered terrorism. So, the Omagh Bombing – whoever did it (and PIRA denies it was they) – was an act of terrorism, and civilians were certainly the target; but the ambush at Warrenpoint on 27 August 1979 when 18 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (2Para) and 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Own Highlanders (1QOHldrs) were killed was not.

A number of Republicans and Loyalists was arrested and imprisoned, quite often by highly questionable means. The outrageous practice of “internment without trial” was tried, and questionable interrogation methods – many deemed torturous by the Commission headed by Lord Scarman – were indulged in, without producing any useful intelligence or reducing the level of violence. And even when people were brought before courts on the UK mainland some of the verdicts were later deemed ‘unsafe’.

Nevertheless, the actions of the communities were by and large real, and there were no doubts surrounding who did these things, and the damage that was being done to lives and property was demonstrable and acknowledged by the communities – where they did it.

However, during these 32 years, there was no demonisation campaign headed by politicians and the media to anathematise Roman Catholicism or Presbyterianism. Although the Irish felt themselves under threat, there was no overt and indiscriminate targeting by politicians and the media of Irish people in general.

The Irish, the Roman Catholics, the Presbyterians were not damned by assertion, innuendo, and unsubstantiated asides and allusions. The Papacy, unlike the Caliphate by Blair, wasn’t dismissed by any of the Prime Ministers of the day as “an evil institution”.

Tens of thousands of innocent Irishmen and women were not capriciously rounded up to great publicity, later to be quietly released without charge or trial. Priests and ministers were not routinely denounced as preaching a message of hate, and the religious communities were not ordered by Ministers of the Crown to put their house in order and expose the extremists in their midst.

Churches were not raided with great fanfare. Irish pubs – like the one on Cricklewood Broadway – were not surrounded by a phalanx of armed police while the customers were arrested and interrogated.

These levels of intimidation, historically associated with the KGB, the StaSi, the AVO, or the GeStaPo, are a recent style of community policing adopted, in the main, it would appear, by the Metropolitan Police and targeted at one religious community only: the Muslims.

All this has happened since 11 September 2001 in the USA, when HM First Lord of the Treasury announced preposterously that “the world has changed”. It hadn’t, of course; and more people had died in the UK as a result of the Irish Troubles supported by the Americans than had died that day in America. So Anthony Charles Linton Blair’s absurd statement was also a gratuitous insult to those.

The official explanation of what had happened has been sedulously scrutinised by experts and their findings and claims can be easily read on the internet. There are so many lacunae in that official version, that no reliance can be put on the Reports that were issued.

Similarly with the official statements of what has happened in the UK since 2001. To be frank, none of these inspires confidence in the findings.

Furthermore, neither the American authorities nor those of the UK has seen fit to produce and publish the evidence they claim to have that it was Muslims – let alone the Muslims they have identified – who perpetrated the outrages.

Also, the fact that all substantial religious and judicial authorities in the Muslim World have unequivocally condemned the atrocities has not been acknowledged or referred to, and the Muslims are still continually being enjoined to denounce terrorism as though they hadn’t already – frequently.

However, let us accept – for lack of alternatives, apart from anything else – that the Official Narratives are correct and that Muslims, even the ones identified, committed these outrages. Where is the sense of proportion?

The UK government, using the excuse of “Islamic terrorism”, has introduced draconian legislation, all-pervasive surveillance, subverted the legal system, connived in the Americans’ abuse of international law, and participated in two illegal Wars of Aggression against sovereign states that have in no way harmed or threatened legitimate UK interests. All because of a smaller annual average number of tragedies than occurs on London’s roads in a single day.

Where is the sense of proporation?

And let us remember that “proportionality” is one of the criteria for a justum bellum (a Just War) according to St Thomas Aquinas and his successors. By Thomist rules this specious Global War on Terrorism has absolutely no claim to be considered “just”.

What do Mr Cameron and his Conservatives have to say about this, given that their political ancestors were the Court Party of King Charles I and it was he who enjoined the protection of “the ancient customs and usages of the people”?

Written by Daoud Rosser-Owen

December 16, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Armed Forces Act 2006

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First Comment (written on 25 April 2006 and published on Islamisamizdat when it was at Blogspot):

There is an Armed Forces Bill before Parliament that has virtually escaped all attention by the “media”, but, fortunately, not that of Military Families Against the War which has organised a petition and a lobby of MPs. This Bill gives serious cause for concern, and should raise debate on precisely what are Her Majesty’s Armed Forces for. Neither of these seems to be happening in the House of Commons.

This Bill comes in the wake of preposterous and dangerous remarks by Dr John Reid, the Secretary of State for Defence, that the Geneva Conventions 1949 are “out of date” in the days of America’s global war on terrorism.

It also follows the conviction – and sentencing to eight months’ imprisonment – of Flight Lieutenant Dr Malcolm Kendall-Smith RAF for declining to deploy again to Basra in Iraq on the grounds that he refused legitimate commands to do so.

This was without hearing his defence, which was that the War in Iraq is illegal and that therefore there can be no lawful commands to order persons subject to military law to participate for to do so would be to cause them to participate in the commission of a war crime.

To have heard Flt Lt Kendall-Smith’s defence would, of course, have put the legality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on trial.

In the new 264-page long Bill which Dr Reid’s ministry has introduced in the Commons there is the disturbing Section 8 which states:

8 Desertion
(1) A person subject to service law commits an offence if he deserts.
(2) For the purposes of this Act a person deserts if he is absent without leave and—
(a) he intends to remain permanently absent without leave; or
(b) he intends to avoid any particular service or kind of service, and that
service or kind of service is relevant service.
(3) In this section “relevant service” means—
(a) actions or operations against an enemy;
(b) operations outside the British Islands for the protection of life or
property; or
(c) military occupation of a foreign country or territory.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable to any punishment
mentioned in the Table in section 163, and any sentence of imprisonment
imposed in respect of the offence—
(a) if subsection (5) applies, may be for life;
(b) otherwise, must not exceed two years.
(5) This subsection applies if—
(a) the offender was on relevant service or under orders for such service
when he became absent without leave; or
(b) subsection (2)(b) applied to him in relation to the offence.

There are three things wrong with the wording of this section.

Firstly, the absence of any proviso that the accused could be presumed innocent.

Compare subsections 1 and 2 with the same clause (Section 37 (1)(a) and (b)) of the earlier Army Act 1955 which it is intended to replace:

37 – (1) Any person subject to military law who –
(a) deserts, or
(b) persuades or procures any person subject to military law to desert
shall, on conviction by court martial be liable to imprisonment or any less punishment provided by the Act…

Clearly, here, the Act has the caveat “on conviction by court martial”: the accused has to be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution to the satisfaction of the judges before he can truly be considered a “deserter”.

Secondly, the replacement of the older and familiar “active service” by the vague term “relevant service” is unhelpfully ambiguous in the circumstances.

It is noticeable that the scope of this service, whatever it is called, remains unchanged since Section 224 of the Army Act 1955 stated,

“In this Act the expression “on active service”, in relation to a force, means that it is engaged in operations against an enemy or is engaged in a foreign country in operations for the protection of life or property or… is in military occupation of a foreign country, and in relation to a person means that he is serving in or with a force which is on active service”.

But the world that Her Majesty’s Forces were functioning in 50 years ago was very different from today, and the assumptions about an appropriate posture and deployment for them were based on the needs of Empire.

The Korean War (1950-53), a sort of aftershock from World War II, had just finished when the Act was being drafted. British forces had not long before (1948) left Indo-China (where, under Major General Gracey, elements of 20 (Indian) Infantry Division had been involved in the initial phase of the Vietnam War, before handing over to the French colonial authorities in the person of Admiral Darlan), Indonesia (where Major General Evans had taken the surrender of Imperial Japanese Forces and then handed over to the Dutch), and India (after partition into India, Ceylon, and Pakistan on Independence).

There had been the dramatic escape of HMS Amethyst down the Yangtse River in 1949. The Empire was metamorphosing into the Commonwealth, but quite considerable parts of it were yet to gain independence. There were counter-insurgency wars going on in Cyprus, Kenya, Aden, and Malaya. The Suez Crisis (1956) had yet to happen, and British troops were still in occupation of the Canal Zone (the last troops didn’t leave until June 1956). Sir Harold Wilson’s call for withdrawal from “East of Suez” didn’t take place until after he took office as Prime Minister in 1964.

There should therefore be an active, informed, and possibly spirited debate in Parliament as to whether the terms that might have been appropriate for the drafters of the 1955 Act are still a desirable means of describing the role of Her Majesty’s Forces for the 2006 Bill.

And, of primary and urgent importance, just what is the role of HMF today?

It is particularly worrying that such a debate is not happening, and that decisions are being taken that will affect the lives of soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen and women by people who have never served in the Armed Forces of the Crown and who can have no imagination as to what it is they are asking of these young men and women. If ever there were a case or time for Robert A. Heinlein’s “qualification for citizenship” in Starship Troopers this is it (incidentally, Heinlein earned his place in the sun through his service in the US Navy).

Thirdly, the notion of “imprisonment for life” for such a prima facie desertion while on “relevant” (or active) service seems unduly harsh, and anachronistic.

It is simply the appropriate section of the 1955 Act with the maximum sentence of death removed.

Yet there needs to be some original thinking taking place where legislators go back to first principles and proceed from there, instead of cribbing from a nearly 60-year-old document: which itself was a rehash of the Army Act 1930, and that was an amended modification of the Army Act 1913. As L. P. Hartley wrote, “the past is another country; they do things differently there.”

But if the government drafters insist on lifting wholesale from their predecessors, perhaps they should take to heart themselves, and place prominently on the desk of their boss, the statement from Chapter VII of the Manual of Military Law that contains that earlier work. Paragraph 64 (a) reads,

“It is an offence against G. C. Act [Geneva Conventions Act], 1957, s. 1 for any person, whatever his nationality, to commit, or to aid, abet or procure the commission by another person of a grave breach of any of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 in or outside the United Kingdom.”

Just as the Human Rights Act 1998 conditions all subsequent British legislation, so too does the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and military (or “service”) law is no exception.

There is the worrying nature of the trial of Dr Kendall-Smith.

His defence was to be built around the illegal nature of the War in Iraq rendering orders for him to deploy there to Basra as unlawful within the terms of the Act, and therefore (again within the terms of the Act) it was his duty to disobey them.

The Manual of Military Law describes a lawful command thus:

Lawful command. The command must not be contrary to English or international law and must be justified by military law.”

In considering this aspect of the law, commentators have noted that it is considered to be an absolute defence that the accused believed the command he was disobeying to be unlawful at the time.

To refuse the defendant facility to argue his case by simply stating that the orders were lawful and then not permit him leave to challenge this assertion smacks strongly of a politically driven show trial, such as were notoriously associated with Stalin’s regime of the USSR in 1936, or the Parteigerichte (“Party Courts”) of the Nazis.

Of course, if Dr Kendall-Smith had been allowed to pursue this line of argument it would have called into question not only the legality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the whole UK defence posture.

Which raises the serious and urgent question yet again, what, precisely, are Her Majesty’s Armed Forces for in 2001 and the rest of the 21st Century.

It should be contended that they have a number of key functions.

Firstly, the Defence of the Realm, that is the protection of the integrity of the United Kingdom, Crown Dependencies, and Dependant Territories from actual foreign attack and from domestic insurgency.

Secondly, the protection of British interests at home and abroad.

Thirdly, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Fourthly, the old activity of keeping the sea lanes open and protecting British sovereign waters.

Any other roles need to be examined carefully and be constantly monitored by Parliament, but it should be stated clearly that breaching the historically accepted “laws and usages of war” and the Nuremberg Principles are not in any way to be countenanced.

And although Coalition Defence has been an accepted posture since the founding on 4 April 1949 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the wake of the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Zhdanov’s Warsaw Declaration in 1947 and the Zhdanovishchina that followed, this does not mean that HMF can be used as proxy troops in someone else’s imperial ambitions.

A new century needs fresh thinking, yet there is no evidence that this is taking place.

It is not good enough for parliament and civil servants simply to keep resurrecting ideas and postures from the time of the end of the British Empire: that was nearly 40 years ago – practically two generations.

However, there is certainly one idea from the time of the Empire that could usefully be incorporated in the proposed legislation, and that is a “Conscience Clause” – what I have termed elsewhere a “Gallipoli Option”.

In his book on the Gallipoli Campaign, perhaps one of the best and most readable on the subject, Dr Robert Rhodes James wrote:

“On May 1st [1915],…the 29th Indian Brigade had disembarked. The Brigade consisted of the 14th Sikhs, the 69th and 89th Punjabis, and the 1/6th Gurkhas, but the 69th and 89th Punjabis contained two companies of Mahomedan troops, and General Cox [Maj Gen H. V. Cox] declined to accept responsibility for their loyalty against the Turks. The men were accordingly detailed for supply work on the beaches…” (James, Robert Rhodes, Gallipoli, B. T. Batsford, London, 1965, p 148)

The text is confusing. Each Punjab Regiment would have had two rifle companies of PMs (“Punjabi Mussulmans”) and the Support Company and Headquarters Company would have been mixed Sikhs, Hindus, and PMs, so the total numbers of Muslim all ranks involved would have been much higher than Dr James initially implies. He seems to correct this impression when he continues “and the strength of the Indian Brigade was reduced by a quarter”.

Nevertheless, the point is valid and leads to a sensible policy.

There is no apparent reason why Muslim troops should not serve in a hostile environment in a Muslim country providing they are not engaging in direct armed operations beyond the carriage of weapons for their own protection and those they are guarding. In such circumstances it would be possible to reassign them to duties at aid posts, base hospitals, airfields, supply depots, and other rear area facilities.

This could be developed into a general Conscience Clause for all service men and women where religious considerations present their engaging in hostilities against their coreligionists as a serious moral dilemma.

This is separate, and distinct, from another variant of the Conscience Clause which allows service personnel to declare a conscientious objection to a particular Operation and opt (or request) to be deployed elsewhere instead – thus freeing up other personnel who do not have a similar objection to serve in the Operation.

Both of these should be considered by Parliament, and, in my opinion and advocacy, incorporated in any new Armed Forces legislation.

There is no reason why either of these should be objected to, whether by military or civilian commentators, as they would be entirely in keeping with the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Let’s see some independent thinking by our Parliamentarians, and some evidence that they are not in thrall to American neo-conservativism, which is a singularly inappropriate ideology for a British Labour, Liberal-Democrat, or Conservative politician and supporter.

Where have all the Tories gone? Because limiting the role of the Armed Services to defence of the realm and British interests, and not minding other people’s business was a traditional Tory posture.

Written by Daoud Rosser-Owen

December 16, 2008 at 2:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Return of the Prodigal

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I’ve been absent for five months.

That’s been mainly for two reasons. The first is that I got bogged down with a job. I was rebuilding an attaché case, and it became a little complicated after the customer wanted some specific add-ons.

The second reason is that after doing that, I got stuck in to the manuscript of a book I’m writing entitled No Less A Christian so as to have a substantial proportion of it ready for my publisher in January.

I fully intend, in sha Allah, to return to the schedule I outlined below after having attended the Dinner in honour of Shaykh Bin Bayyah.

But first there’s a digression to be made into a subject which I feel is quite important and that is the Armed Forces Act 2006 which begins to replace the earlier Acts on 1 January 2009 and will be fully operable in October.

I hope to address this in two parts. The first is a slightly amended version of one I published when Islamisamizdat was being hosted on Blogspot: on 25 April 2006 to be precise.

This contains the meat of what I would like to comment upon in the second part, and so it is in the nature of a recap.

Written by Daoud Rosser-Owen

December 16, 2008 at 1:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized