Joe Glenton has a major article on The Guardian's Comment Is Free, arguing that 'soldier worship' is blinding us to the reality of warfare.
I have never really understood Joe Glenton. I can understand his opposition to the Afghan and Iraq wars - I marched against them both myself. It is perhaps a little harder to understand how he came to join the military and then object to such conflicts - surely he must have realised that the British Army is sent to such arenas on a regular basis, and that the nature of 'joining-up' is that you do not get to pick and choose?
What I really do not understand is how someone who has been a soldier can spend so long in the political circles he has - which is broadly the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Stop the War Coalition? Joe Glenton knows full well how the British military is discussed in those circles. He knows that people with no family or personal connections to the average soldier (the full timers in the STWC and SWP come from a different social class from all but the officers running the British army) genuinely hate armed forces personnel.
Whether it is toned down in his earshot or not, he surely knows that deaths of soldiers in places like Helmand are not mourned by this part of the left, or even considered in any detail, but are instead ascribed the status of acts of the 'resistance'. In private they are cheered. In public they are used merely to justify pre-existing political positions.
Attitudes towards the armed forces have certainly shifted in recent decades. Those allocated status in this society - from police to politicians to our overpaid footballers - all seem unworthy of it. It is not hard to admire the working class man from Lancashire or Essex going into battle with the Taliban far from home, for a pittance. If I were to see a firefight between the two, I know instinctively whose side I would be on. I just don't think, sadly, it makes much difference. Afghanistan is likely to remain a mess for a very long time, in large part because of the religious trends that are predominant there. Much the same could be said of Iraq.
We also know instinctively, if viewing that fictional firefight, which side the leaders of Stop the War Coalition would be on. For it is here that blind soldier worship collides with its unwanted cousin - blind hatred of armed forces personnel. I can't believe Joe Glenton does not see that, hear it or feel it in the political circles he moves in . I guess he is now so committed, in career terms, it probably does not matter anymore.