The Logic of Mutiny

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The established political logic is that wars are vote winners, and that armies, whatever their private misgivings, do as they are told.

New Labour's heavily reduced majority on 5 May gave the lie to the first assumption, and the growth of Military Families Against the War (MFAW) to the second.

As Andrew Burgin argues on the next page, MFAW is an unprecedented development for a modern British army. It combines the campaigning energy of parents, spouses and siblings of soldiers, as well as former personnel now unwilling to serve Bush's imperial project. It is a reflection of how deep-rooted in British society is the disaffection with the continuing occupation of Iraq that even an institution designed to fight for our rulers' interests can be so wracked with dissent. In the following pages members of MFAW give eloquent voice to their fears, anger and hopes about the struggle to bring the troops home.

Can we expect to see this disillusionment in the ranks turn to open rebellion? Neil Davidson presents a short history of mutinies to suggest that although such resistance faces many obstacles, it is not as rare as governments would like us to believe. The objective disaster of the occupation is beyond dispute. The subjective factor - the support that the wider anti-war movement can give to soldiers and their families in their fight - is the crux.

Readers will notice that we have devoted the first section of the magazine to this campaign in place of the news section, and that we have compiled a special report on Africa. We welcome your thoughts and comments on this change to the format of Socialist Review.