There have, lately, been many retrospective prosecutions of military personnel for shooting at the enemy while on active service. Apparently, killing enemy combatants is now seen as bad form by the Government and the justice system.
What are the soldiers supposed to do? Wave a stick at them and shout? Careful with what you shout, you can be done for abusive behaviour for shouting at people now. Even if those people are trying to kill you.
I will not be at all surprised if, in the future, there are retrospective prosecutions of soldiers for shouting at the enemy, thereby causing them undue stress and alarm. There will be ISIS fighters on the front page of the Daily Mail with the requisite sad face, tear tracks in the dust on their faces and a headline saying ‘British soldiers called me a sand monkey’.
Two big stories at the moment are the prosecution of ‘Marine A’ for shooting a Taliban soldier who was already wounded, and of two retired soldiers accused of the murder of an IRA man in 1972.
Seriously. This is happening in the UK right now.
The Irish war is gently referred to as ‘the troubles’. It was a goddamn war! People were shooting each other and civilians were getting blown up by bombs. That, to me, suggests more than ‘troubles’.
These prosecutions are going to kill a hell of a lot of British soldiers in the future. The cynic in me suspects that that is what they are intended to achieve.
Put yourself in the soldiers’ shoes. You’re in uniform on the streets of Belfast and you spot a high ranking member of the IRA. You know the IRA set off bombs, you know they kneecap and kill people for any perceived transgression, you know they will kill you, a soldier, if they get the chance. What would you do? Would you shoot or hesitate?
Imagine facing a wounded Taliban. You know a wounded man can still lift a pistol or pull the pin from a grenade or set off a Semtex waistcoat. You know the Taliban are quite ready to die if they can take you with them. What would you do? Shoot or hesitate?
Now re-imagine the scenario as a soldier who knows that if you shoot, the justice system can come after you any time in the future. Even after you retired. If you shoot this enemy combatant, you could face murder charges 35 years in the future.
Now what? Shoot or hesitate?
That knowledge will push you towards ‘hesitate’.
And that will change your future. Instead of the police knocking your door in retirement to serve a warrant for charges, you’ll be going home the following day in a body bag. That moment of hesitation is all the enemy needs, because the enemy has no such threat of future prosecution hanging over them.
That’s how you wipe out an entire army with consummate ease.
All you have to do is put a tiny seed of doubt in their minds. One tiny hint that their job, if done correctly, will land them in jail one day. Put that hint into every soldier’s head with a few well publicised prosecutions and that entire army is doomed. Just make their finger pause on the trigger for a second.
Plenty of time to set off that suicide vest or pull the pin on that grenade…