According to the ‘Sunday Times’, the Ministry of Defence is investigating allegations that one or two British soldiers are guilty of ‘war crimes’ in Afghanistan. Two of the alleged offences took place 17 years ago.
Of course, the lapse in time between the offence and any trial is no excuse for what may have happened. But you surely have to question whether it is fair and reasonable to threaten ex-soldiers with prosecution when – we must assume – they were in life-threatening situations and acting in the heat of the moment.
Afghanistan has been a terrible graveyard for British soldiers since our first invasion at the time of Eldred Pottinger in the first years of Queen Victoria’s reign. There was no justification for our involvement then any more than there was in the recent past.
But if terrible things happened, surely the blame rests with the people who made the decision to invade. The politicians and armchair generals who blithely send soldiers into combat must surely accept responsibility when things get bloody.
Alas, they singularly failed to take the blame 180 years ago, when Eldred Pottinger was made to stand trial accused of bringing about a military disaster, and nothing has changed since then.