by Caroline Colebrook
LANCE Corporal Joe Glenton of the Royal Logistic Corps last Saturday led a march of thousands of anti-war protesters through London, even though he faces a court martial for doing so.
Glenton is refusing to return to Afghanistan and is calling on Britain to withdraw all troops from the country.
He told a rally, at the end of the march in Trafalgar Square: “It is distressing to disobey orders but when Britain follows America in continuing to wage war against one of the world’s poorest countries, I feel I have no choice.
“Politicians have abused the trust of the army and the soldiers who serve. That’s why I am compelled and proud to march with the Stop the War Coalition.”
He added: “I am marching to send a message to Gordon Brown. Instead of sending more troops, he must bring them all home. He cannot sit on his hands and wait while more and more of my comrades are killed.”
So far 223 British troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Nato forces invaded the country in 2001 on the premise that Afghanistan was somehow responsible for the 11th September attacks in the United States in 2001.
A recent poll commissioned by Channel Four News found that 84 per cent of people in Britain believe that British and American troops are currently losing the war in Afghanistan.
Almost half of the public in this country believe that military victory in Afghanistan is impossible and significant majorities think British troops are not winning the war and should be withdrawn either immediately or within the next year, according to a poll published today.
The poll suggests that the public mood is at odds with government policy that Britain and its Nato allies should see through their mission in Afghanistan and keep troops in the country until responsibility for its security can be handed over to home-grown forces in a process known as Afghanisation.
Last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was ready to send a further 500 troops, so long as they could be properly equipped and form part of a Nato-wide reinforcement with each ally bearing its “fair share”.
Joe Glenton was joined on the march by former colleagues and bereaved military families. They included Peter Brierly, whose son Lance Corporal Shaun Brierly was killed in Iraq in 2003. At a recent memorial service in St Paul’s’ cathedral in London Brierly refused to shake the hand of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, telling Blair that he had blood on his hands and would one day have to answer for what he had done.
“They are not doing any good while they are over there. They need to leave the country to sort itself out,” he said. “While British troops are there they are actually attracting more insurgents who are coming in to fight.”
Also on the march was 104-year-old Hetty Bowyer. She told the crowd in Trafalgar Square: “I march because I can see no reason for further killing. I have walked on every march against us going to war. At my age there is not very much I can do but while my legs can carry me I am going to march.”
Jeremy Corbyn MP, vice-chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: “The war in Afghanistan has no clear war aims, is clearly escalating and spinning out of control and can only impact on Pakistan and the whole of South Asia.
“Nato forces have been in Afghanistan for eight years and the result appears to be increased drug production, high levels of corruption and terrible losses of life on all sides, civilian and military.
“Now is the time to change policy and bring the troops home to prevent Nato involving itself in a Vietnam-style quagmire.”