Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said that she supports individuals from the UK who might want to go to Ukraine to join the war against Russia.
What kind of madness is that? It is the kind of jingoistic statement that I might expect to hear expressed after a late-night macho drinking binge in a local pub, but not by someone who is meant to represent the country in a position of responsibility.
Now, I completely condemn what Russia is doing in Ukraine, but the fact is that the UK is not at war with Russia, nor is it committing any of its troops to fight for Ukraine, so it seems the height of irresponsibility for the Foreign Secretary to support the idea of UK citizens joining in the conflict. It is advocating a form of war tourism; supporting acts of violence overseas, which would be condemned as criminal if they were committed on our own shores.
What would happen if one of these ‘civilians’ is taken as a prisoner of war? What will Liz Truss’s position be then? Demand their immediate release in the name of the UK government, or hang them out to dry, saying that they acted entirely on their own volition?
In what sane society is it acceptable for Johnny Regular to ask for two weeks’ annual leave from their marketing job, fly out to Kiev, shoot a few Russians, and then fly back home to resume their 9-5 office job on Monday morning as though they’ve just returned from spending a fortnight on a sunbed in Ibiza?
It is interesting that the UK has never signed the United Nations International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, whereas many European countries, including Ukraine, and even including Belarus have.
I was similarly opposed to UK civilians joining up to fight in both Syria and Iraq, both for and against ISIS. It seemed as though the only reason these actions were in any way countenanced was because they were happening ‘somewhere else’ and not here. But consider a different scenario.
Hollywood actress Rose McGowan once expressed the view that she sympathised with the IRA. In this new ‘free-for-all’, ‘everyone-have-a-go’ world-view, supported by Liz Truss, what is to stop Rose McGowan travelling over to the UK, checking into the Savoy, taking out a few targets on UK soil in the name of the IRA, doing a quick spot of sightseeing around London, and then returning back to the US, entirely free from prosecution?
The Foreign Secretary should not be encouraging civilians to carry out actions overseas that would be considered criminal at home.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree remains a proud dreamer.