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British SAS soldier cites illegality of US Iraq tactics as reason for resigning

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] A member of the elite Special Air Service [Wikipedia profile] special forces of the British Army [official website] who refused to return to Iraq and later left British military service said in an interview published in the UK Sunday that he resigned because he objected to the illegality of the war and its tactics, especially as conducted by US forces. Ben Griffin admitted that he did not think that the British government made a good case for the Iraqi war but that he went to Iraq because he felt that he had to follow orders. Afterwards, however, he decided that he "didn't join the British army to conduct American foreign policy."

Griffin questioned the legality of many actions he saw undertaken by US troops in Iraq, such as taking into custody men who were clearly civilians and uninvolved with insurgents. He told the Daily Telegraph:

The Americans had this catch-all approach to lifting suspects. The tactics were draconian and completely ineffective. The Americans were doing things like chucking farmers into Abu Ghraib or handing them over to the Iraqi authorities, knowing full well they were going to be tortured....

As far as the Americans were concerned, the Iraqi people were sub-human, untermenschen. You could almost split the Americans into two groups: ones who were complete crusaders, intent on killing Iraqis, and the others who were in Iraq because the Army was going to pay their college fees. They had no understanding or interest in the Arab culture. The Americans would talk to the Iraqis as if they were stupid and these weren't isolated cases, this was from the top down. There might be one or two enlightened officers who understood the situation a bit better but on the whole that was their general attitude. Their attitude fuelled the insurgency. I think the Iraqis detested them.
After Griffin refused to go back to Iraq in March of last year he thought he would be arrested and court-martialed, but instead he was discharged with glowing testimonies from his superiors. His case may have an impact on others who have refused to fight in Iraq on moral grounds, like Flt. Lt. Malcolm Kendall-Smith [JURIST report], a Royal Air Force [official website] doctor who has refused to return to Iraq for a third tour of duty on the grounds that the war is illegal. A pre-trial hearing for his UK court martial begins on Wednesday. AFP has more. The Telegraph has local coverage here and here.

Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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