Thursday, 12 November 2009

Why Joe Glenton's arrest must be opposed

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, the Royal Logistics Corps soldier who took part in an anti-war march at the end of last month, was arrested yesterday. According to the Times, "it is alleged that he led the demonstration in London on October 24 and that he spoke to the media in defiance of orders." On top of the four year sentence he faces if found guilty of desertion, for his refusal to return to Afghanistan, "the new charges carry a maximum of ten years in prison."

His wife has said that she is "particularly outraged" by his arrest. "Apparently it's acceptable for an officer to speak out for the war, but when a soldier speaks out against the war he's locked up for it and that's just double standards," she has said, adding that he husband was "very brave." His mother has also voiced support, asking "what's so scary about a Lance Corporal having his say? My son is only speaking out for what he thinks is right."

In response to this turn of events, which they have called "the persecution of a soldier who believes in telling the truth in accordance with his conscience," the Stop the War Coalition will be holding an "emergency protest" at 5pm tonight outside Whitehall. Though there are serious criticisms to be made of Stop the War, not least that they are a recruiting front for the Trotskyite Socialist Workers' Party, such displays of solidarity are important. LCpl Glenton has considerable support amongst both the wider public and ex- and serving members of the armed forces, and the government would like nothing better than to have his case dissapear into obscurity.

We must expect the hierarchy of the military to take action to suppress opposition to violent militarism. However, their success in such a high profile case could sound the death knell for the very idea of resistance by soldiers and thus for a practical, radical opposition to war and imperialism. Emphatically, we cannot let that happen.