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Proletarian issue 31 (August 2009)
UK soldier to Gordon Brown: why I won’t return to Afghanistan
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, from the Royal Logistics Corps, is the first British soldier to speak out publicly against the war in Afghanistan.

He explains in the letter below, delivered to Gordon Brown at Downing Street on Thursday 30 July, why he will not return to fight in Afghanistan because he believes politicians must stop wasting soldiers’ lives in an unjustified war.

Court martial proceedings for desertion against Joe, for his refusal to return to Afghanistan, begin on Monday 3 August.

Letter to Gordon Brown

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to you as a serving soldier in the British army to express my views and concerns on the current conflict in Afghanistan.

It is my primary concern that the courage and tenacity of my fellow soldiers has become a tool of American foreign policy. I believe this unethical short-changing of such proud men and women has caused immeasurable suffering not only to families of British service personnel who have been killed and injured, but also to the noble people of Afghanistan.

I have seen qualities in the Afghan people which have also been for so long apparent and admired in the British soldier. Qualities of robustness, humour, utter determination and unwillingness to take a step backwards. However it is these qualities, on both sides, which I fear will continue to cause a state of attrition. These will only lead to more heartbreak within both our societies.

I am not a general nor am I a politician and I cannot claim any mastery of strategy. However, I am a soldier who has served in Afghanistan, which has given me some small insight.

I believe that when British military personnel submit themselves to the service of the nation and put their bodies into harm’s way, the government that sends them into battle is obliged to ensure that the cause is just and right, ie, for the protection of life and liberty.

The war in Afghanistan is not reducing the terrorist risk; far from improving Afghan lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country. Britain has no business there.

I do not believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right. I implore you, sir, to bring our soldiers home.

Yours sincerely

Joe Glenton

Lance Corporal, Royal Logistics Corps

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