Monday, January 22, 2007

Iraq reporting and our attitudes towards the armed forces

I read on another American blog site last week that the rumours there were that here in the UK we are blaming our armed forces for the situation in Iraq and that servicemen who return to this country are being treated badly by the general population and worse, when they leave the forces they are denied public housing.

There may be some truth in that last bit as anyone who applies for local authority housing has to join a waiting list and is assesed on a "needs" basis - an unattached male in his late twenties wouldn't be at the front of the queue regardless of what his previous occupation was - and a quite shocking statistic that I read in the authors preface to a novel recently is that up to a third of all homeless people on the streets of London are understood to be ex-servicemen.

Be that as it may, the rest of the rumour is incorrect and some way off the mark, I haven't seen any evidence in any of the written or televised press of anti-armed services reporting, on the contrary all of the reporting that I have seen has been full of praise for our armed services and acknowledgement that they are carrying out an impossible task in the face of very hostile opposition, without complaint or argument, simply because they were told to be there and thats what they do - they follow orders.

Its the ones making the orders that are under fire in the press, the politicians who took the decision to follow George Bush into Iraq and Afghanistan and the political wrangling within the Ministry of Defence that allows front line soldiers to go into combat situations without the correct equipment, getting themselves killed on our behalf in the process - the politicians take the flak in this country, and rightly so, they have yet to face the consequences of their decisions at the ballot box.

To make the point this weekend this quite remarkable news report came out of Afghanistan and is typical of the sort of reporting that we see on our TV's and in our newspapers, I recommend that everyone watches it and prays that they never find themselves in the position of the parents of L/Cpl Mathew Ford or indeed the father of one of the marines involved in the rescue who must surely be wishing that his son wasn't quite so much a hero.

EDIT : The video link above is on the BBC web site and as such might be moved around in its location at the whim of the BBC - this is a link to a text news report of the incident.

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