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Only Obeying Orders

I don't know if I can return to the the Arab world without experiencing an acute sense of shame and embarassment over what I have witnessed in Washington and London over the last seven days.

The coalition forces attacked - or should I say liberated? - Iraq to remove its so-called weapons of mass destruction and free its people from a violent dictator who routinely used torture and murder to intimidate and cower the people of that country.

Champions of human rights, Britain and America have now lost any pretense of owning the moral high-ground in this conflict, by squandering the values that made us different and decent. It beggars belief that on the American side that their army would give the power of life and death over prisoners to a poorly educated chicken canner from a one traffic-light town in the deep south and expect anything different from behaviour that is reminiscent of the film, 'Deliverance'.

The alleged defense of the Americans, "I was only obeying orders", is chilling. Where have we heard that before?

I'm reminded that Lieutenant William Calley, star of Time Life magazine and architect of the shocking My Lai massacre of women and children in another war, thirty years ago, was never properly called to account for his more extreme actions. The pictures from Iraq are simply one step on the same slippery amd morally indefensible road and as the global champion of Christian values, America should know better and indeed, so should Britain, if allegations against our own troops are indeed true.

If we had any confidence or support in the minds of the Arab people, then the photographs of tortured prisoners has flushed this away for years to come. We are now seen as occupiers and not liberators and the values we represent , displayed so vividly in the photographs of naked prisoners, are abhorent to the Islamic sense of decency.

The cause in Iraq may not be completely lost but I very much doubt if it can ever be won.


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