Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers

By staff writers
March 27, 2006

Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers

-27/03/06

A leading counter-terrorism and security analyst, Colonel Mike Dewar, has poured scorn on the idea ñ widely circulating in the media ñ that Norman Kember and his fellow Christian Peacemaker Teams activists in Iraq might have caused any danger to British service personnel by their actions. He has also defended CPTís right to be there.

The admissions came on the Jeremy Vine BBC Radio 2 radio programme today. In discussion with Jonathan Bartley, director of the UK religious think tank Ekklesia, which works with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the UK, Colonel Dewar declared: ìI certainly didn't say that they [CPT members] should withdraw.î

He continued: ìI think they have every right to be there. If they want to put themselves in harms way, that is entirely their business.î

Colonel Dewar, a vigorous supporter of the Iraq war, made clear his contempt and distaste for non-violent campaigners. He told Christian Peacemaker Teams dismissively: ìIf you want to send back more teams that is entirely your business.î

Jonathan Bartley explained that Christian Peacemaker Teams were concerned about the welfare of coalition soldiers as well as Iraqis, and that is why they had categorically said that they did not want the lives of soldiers endangered through military rescue, should they be captured.

In response, Colonel Mike Dewar exclaimed angrily: ìYou needn't worry Mr Bartley about putting troops in danger. Itís part of a soldiers job to be in danger, so we don't need your worries, thank you very much, about putting us in danger.î

He continued: ìBritish troops are out there in danger on a daily basis. And in fact they were extremely glad to be able to rescue them.î

The extent of military involvement in the operation, which has been talked up by the army and by the US and British governments, is in fact unclear ñ though it is known that the freeing was achieved without violence.

Asked about the allegations of grudging thanks from Dr Kember, Mr Bartley confirmed that CPT had ñ contrary to media reports ñ made a public statement of gratitude on the day the men were released. He expressed sorrow that the hostile criticism paid no regard to the ordeal the three had endured, or to the fact that they had just learned about the tragic news of the death of their friend Tom Fox.

Colonel Dewar rejected this as ìspecial pleadingî. Ignoring data presented to him about CPTís role in exposing 72 cases of prisoner abuse and building positive links between warring factions, the military analyst pronounced that the peacemakers had had ìhardly any effectÖ I would have thought zero.î

Earlier today, CPT spokesperson Doug Pritchard commented: ìOur original statement, written an hour after we got news of the release from a member of Jim Loney's family in the very early morning of 23 March, did not thank anyone except God ñ because at that time we knew almost nothing of the circumstances of their release. So we could focus only on our joy at their freedom, our grief over Tom's death, and our appreciation for the messages of concern received over previous months. Later that evening, after our Baghdad team had met with the men themselves, we were able to issue our addenda with specific thank-yous."

Proclaiming himself a committed Christian, Colonel Dewar went on to denounce those who supported non-violence, including Dr Kember and Mr Bartley, as ìfundamentalistsî. He mocked the idea that prayer could thwart dictatorship and described weapons as Godís ìtoolsî for use ìin the real world.î

Bartley responded by referring to the harm caused by the supposed military solution in Iraq and the need for more serious attention to be paid to non-violent components of regime change. These were issues US Christian leader Jim Wallis had raised with PM Tony Blair and others before the 2003 invasion, he said.

Colonel Mike Dewar is a Counter-terrorism and security analyst, He is also former Deputy Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He known world-wide on TV and radio for his commentaries on defence and security issues, in particular Iraq.

His acknowledgment that CPT operatives are not a security risk and have a right to be in Iraq is likely to annoy those in the army and elsewhere who have attempted to argue that Christian peace activists are a danger to others.

Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers

-27/03/06

A leading counter-terrorism and security analyst, Colonel Mike Dewar, has poured scorn on the idea ñ widely circulating in the media ñ that Norman Kember and his fellow Christian Peacemaker Teams activists in Iraq might have caused any danger to British service personnel by their actions. He has also defended CPTís right to be there.

The admissions came on the Jeremy Vine BBC Radio 2 radio programme today. In discussion with Jonathan Bartley, director of the UK religious think tank Ekklesia, which works with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the UK, Colonel Dewar declared: ìI certainly didn't say that they [CPT members] should withdraw.î

He continued: ìI think they have every right to be there. If they want to put themselves in harms way, that is entirely their business.î

Colonel Dewar, a vigorous supporter of the Iraq war, made clear his contempt and distaste for non-violent campaigners. He told Christian Peacemaker Teams dismissively: ìIf you want to send back more teams that is entirely your business.î

Jonathan Bartley explained that Christian Peacemaker Teams were concerned about the welfare of coalition soldiers as well as Iraqis, and that is why they had categorically said that they did not want the lives of soldiers endangered through military rescue, should they be captured.

In response, Colonel Mike Dewar exclaimed angrily: ìYou needn't worry Mr Bartley about putting troops in danger. Itís part of a soldiers job to be in danger, so we don't need your worries, thank you very much, about putting us in danger.î

He continued: ìBritish troops are out there in danger on a daily basis. And in fact they were extremely glad to be able to rescue them.î

The extent of military involvement in the operation, which has been talked up by the army and by the US and British governments, is in fact unclear ñ though it is known that the freeing was achieved without violence.

Asked about the allegations of grudging thanks from Dr Kember, Mr Bartley confirmed that CPT had ñ contrary to media reports ñ made a public statement of gratitude on the day the men were released. He expressed sorrow that the hostile criticism paid no regard to the ordeal the three had endured, or to the fact that they had just learned about the tragic news of the death of their friend Tom Fox.

Colonel Dewar rejected this as ìspecial pleadingî. Ignoring data presented to him about CPTís role in exposing 72 cases of prisoner abuse and building positive links between warring factions, the military analyst pronounced that the peacemakers had had ìhardly any effectÖ I would have thought zero.î

Earlier today, CPT spokesperson Doug Pritchard commented: ìOur original statement, written an hour after we got news of the release from a member of Jim Loney's family in the very early morning of 23 March, did not thank anyone except God ñ because at that time we knew almost nothing of the circumstances of their release. So we could focus only on our joy at their freedom, our grief over Tom's death, and our appreciation for the messages of concern received over previous months. Later that evening, after our Baghdad team had met with the men themselves, we were able to issue our addenda with specific thank-yous."

Proclaiming himself a committed Christian, Colonel Dewar went on to denounce those who supported non-violence, including Dr Kember and Mr Bartley, as ìfundamentalistsî. He mocked the idea that prayer could thwart dictatorship and described weapons as Godís ìtoolsî for use ìin the real world.î

Bartley responded by referring to the harm caused by the supposed military solution in Iraq and the need for more serious attention to be paid to non-violent components of regime change. These were issues US Christian leader Jim Wallis had raised with PM Tony Blair and others before the 2003 invasion, he said.

Colonel Mike Dewar is a Counter-terrorism and security analyst, He is also former Deputy Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He known world-wide on TV and radio for his commentaries on defence and security issues, in particular Iraq.

His acknowledgment that CPT operatives are not a security risk and have a right to be in Iraq is likely to annoy those in the army and elsewhere who have attempted to argue that Christian peace activists are a danger to others.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.