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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Blog 43. Killing them Softly.

If you hum loudly and spin round in a circle with your fingers up your nose, it might seem rational. But isn’t cold logic the last thing that should be employed in trying to decide what is acceptable when slaughtering human beings?

But perhaps it is no more bizarre than dropping aid into war zones to keep folk alive so that they can carry on being – er – killed.

I’m talking about chemical weapons and how suddenly there is that global moral line in the sand. Lots of brouhaha and firm chins and sage nodding like we can all see just how reasonable it is to single out that one way of slaughtering innocent people as B>A>D. Carnage by chemicals just aint on. Does that mean that blasting body parts all over a town with high explosives IS? ‘Collateral damage’ from drone attacks we know is just fine and dandy – cos America does it (Pakistan). Rogue soldiers going on the rampage and blasting away the lives of innocent villagers is not good but it happens (Afghanistan). Not to mention horrible deaths by the deadly diseases that creep in when infrastructure is decimated or sectarian killings that erupt when political situations are destabilised by war. Torture, rape, murder we understand are the predictable side salads to almost every serious dish of conflict in history.

There are whole conferences at international level about how to conduct war and how to treat the victims but the most bizarre element is that some ways of slaughtering seem to pass muster by default and others don’t.

If you have spent time with children you will be aware that there comes an age when they start asking those slightly surreal questions –

‘If you had to eat a live slug or a dead wasp – which would it be?’

‘Would you rather be deaf or blind?’

‘Would you rather drown or suffocate?’

The answer to all is, frankly –‘neither thanks very much’

Even on the issue of chemical destruction of human lives, have we been consistent? If – let’s say – it’s Bhopal (India 1984) – then it’s more – ‘ooh shit – that was nasty but – hey ho – the company isn’t really trading any more – so – wow – well – who woulda thunk’.

Yes chemical weapons are absolutely unacceptable but do any parents want their kids dead in cross fire? No child wants to watch a parent’s life leaking away because the local hospital has been bombed. No grandparent wants to be parenting traumatised grandchildren whose father and mother have been dragged off in the night, their dismembered bodies found floating down the river the following day.

And where do the chemicals come from that make up the deadly cocktails used in such hellish weaponry? Well – like a lot of the other nasties that end up in conflicts nice and far away – they often come from U.S and European linked companies.

So, trying to see through the fog of righteous outrage that’s hovering round the global powers like mustard gas – couldn’t we just clear the air and get a bit more indignant about war in general?

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