In a bloody week for our armed forces, another soldier has been killed in southern Iraq. There is something terribly poignant about those young faces framed with their uniforms that head yet another newspaper announcement of unbearable grief for their families, and sorrow for the rest of us.
War is terrible, but there are worse things than war and sometimes it can be justified as the lesser evil. I still believe that we were right to go to war in Iraq, but that the coalition made serious mistakes in the conduct of the war and then blundered the aftermath in ways that stretch credulity. I also believe that this Labour government is guilty of failing to support our armed forces at every level, from inadequate equipment, to not enough equipment even when it works, to not even caring properly for our soldiers when they return wounded. Most importantly though there is now a sense of mission drift in Iraq. The British presence there seems to be confined to base in an effort to return as much of government and security to Iraqis. This has made them sitting ducks for mortar and rocket attacks, and gives insurgents plenty of time to mine roads an prepare ambushes for when our army does venture forth. It seems to me that a decision is required: either we allow the army to fight, or we bring them home. In dithering over this Labour is further betraying the trust of our soldiers, and making for more confident young faces staring out over the newspaper announcement of their death.