Mike Small (Fife, freelancer): News that "British" troops are to make a lap of honour at Wembley stadium before England play a crucial Euro 2008 qualifying match leaves me incredulous.The service men and women have all recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and will parade before the game against Croatia next Wednesday. The event has been organised by the British Forces Foundation, who say it will allow the crowds to publicly thank the Army, Navy and Airforce personnel for their efforts in the Midde East. Apparently, images from the parade will be relayed to troops serving in foreign countries.
The constant conflation of "Britain" and "England" is ongoing. FA chairman Geoff Thompson said:Where better than the national stadium, before our national team takes the field, for us to show our appreciation of not just the select few with us at the match, but British men and women serving their country around the world
Mark Cann, director of the Foundation, which stages overseas entertainment for troops, said: "We at the British Forces Foundation do not pass judgment on the rights and wrongs of wars but do think the people who serve their country, on behalf of governments the public elect, deserve the utmost respect and appreciation for what they do." This is contemporary double-speak and evasion of moral responsibility. As John Pilger argues in 'Lest we forget' here:On 25 October, Dai Davies MP asked Gordon Brown about civilian deaths in Iraq. Brown passed the question to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who passed it to his junior minister, Kim Howells, who replied: "We continue to believe that there are no comprehensive or reliable figures for deaths since March 2003." This was a deception. In October 2006, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. A Freedom of Information search revealed that the government, while publicly dismissing the study, secretly backed it as comprehensive and reliable. The chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defense, Sir Roy Anderson, called its methods "robust" and "close to best practice." Other senior governments officials secretly acknowledged the survey's "tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones."
Who in the FA thought this was a good idea, an acceptable idea I can't imagine. It seems a disastrous blend of sport and violence, a heady mixture that, with England's appaling record of behaviour, you'd have thought someone would have advised against.