Freelance journalist and blogger, Reyhana Patel gives her thoughts on ex-British soldier, Joe Glenton’s book about the War on Terror.
Meet Joe Glenton. In 2009, he dominated the headlines by being the first British soldier to publicly refuse to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds. Arrested on AWOL charges, Glenton served his sentence in prison and faced widespread criticism by the army and some members of the British public for openly condemning Britain’s involvement in the war on terror.
Glenton accounts his experience in his memoir: “Soldier Box, Why I Won’t Return to the War on Terror”. In this first ever of a kind revelation, Glenton goes deep inside the war on terror and takes us on a step by step journey on how he we went pumped as a soldier, committed to ‘’fighting Britain’s enemies’’ to refusing to serve in Afghanistan by “realising we were not guests but invaders ” in the country.
Glenton portrays life as a serving soldier and divulges his accounts of racism, bullying and deficiencies within the British armed forces. Despite suffering symptoms and requesting treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he was largely ignored and received minimal treatment; which he reveals is a procedure more widespread within the armed forces than what is depicted in the media. Glenton also exposes the lack of democracy within the system. After being told he was to be deployed to Afghanistan for a second term, Glenton refused on grounds he didn’t agree with it and was silenced with the words: “You don’t have to agree with it…It doesn’t matter what you think, you’ll do what you’re told. You’re a corporal in the British Army.”
What makes Joe Glenton’s story unique is the realism of his situation. Glenton didn’t witness his colleagues killed or a mass slaughter of civilians. He wasn’t made to kill babies or saw “his father-figure sergeant shot by swarms of enemies.” He wasn’t captured by Taliban fighters or engaged in battles with insurgents. Joe Glenton was an ordinary man, seduced by the war on terror and during his time serving in Afghanistan; realised the pointlessness of the war. He merely came to disagree with the war and spoke out against it.
Elegantly written and mixed with humour, Soldier Box is powerful and a must read story by anyone who dares to speak out either in favour or against the war on terror.
Now a world renowned anti-war campaigner and writer, Joe Glenton remains the alternative hero to those around the world fighting for justice.
Solider Box by Joe Glenton is available on Verso Books