British combat operations in Iraq will come to an end on Thursday lunchtime with a handover to American forces.James O'Brien, the host, is currently asking how it is possible to say that the Iraq war was an unnecessary war without denigrating the British soldiers who died in that conflict. He appears to think that one can't say the former without insinuating the latter.
The move, a month ahead of schedule, ends a six-year UK military presence.
A memorial service has taken place in Basra for the 179 British personnel who have died during the conflict, attended by Defence Secretary John Hutton.
I think he's missing the point.
Soldiers, when they sign up, agree to put their lives on the line at the point when the country faces maximum danger. I can't think of a more honourable thing for a man or a woman to do.
If the government decides to take part in an immoral conflict, and asks soldiers to put their lives on the line when the country is not facing maximum danger, this does not in any way reflect or detract from the honourable intention which caused the soldier to sign up. Lions can famously be led by donkeys, and I can't get my head around why James O'Brien is finding this concept so difficult to understand.
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