Saturday, 31 August 2013

All War is Inhumane

The hypocrisy of this week's events in the 'Mother of Parliaments' is quite nauseas. Both the ConDem's Motion and Labour's amendments, in my view, demonstrate how desensitised MPs, and people in general, have become to the horrors of all wars.

On 21st August a war criminal perpetrated an evil act by shelling Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, with poisonous gas. The gas attack is reported to have killed more than 1,400 civilians of which over 400 were children.

None, I suspect except other than the most rabid of sociopaths (is there a martial equivalent?) would view the use of chemical weapons with anything less than abhorrence, an unnecessary evil; their deployment the actions of war criminals.

However, I felt the same way in the days after Bloody Sunday, when as a 15 year-old London Irish kid I watched and read about my people being gunned down in the streets of Derry.

Images from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos of the aftermath of US carpet bombing and dropping of napalm were the first images of war I remembered from my childhood.

30 years on the footage from Sabrina and Shatila massacres remain imprinted on my memory. The UN condemned the slaughter, while the perpetrators Lebanese Christian militia (an IDF proxy) literally got away with mass murder.

Over the decades countless wars, revolutions and bloody coups across the Caribbean, Central and South America along with their attendant violence have made their way through TV, film, radio and newsprint to my conscience, helping to inform and form my views on violent conflict.

The events in Ghouta got to me; another piece of my trust in humanity gone. Though I've lived through 50-odd years of some sad episodes of mans' inhumanity to his fellow man, I refuse to become inured by such events.

Which brings me to the point I wish to make.

Making distinctions between one method of mass killing over another, to me, mocks the very idea of humaneness. My contention is, what is the difference between bombs raining down on populated areas blowing people to pieces, and gas-filled shells killing people. 

What's humane about killing people with cruise missiles. How humane was the US's attack on Fallujah in 2004 where they pounded the city with depleted uranium ammunition. What made the carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos humane.

Of course it's nonsense to consider any of the above wars or massacres as being in any way humane. Yet, they have become an accepted way in which to carry out warfare or international 'policing' actions.

I say 'yes' to condemning the horrific taking of life in Syria ten days ago. But I'm equally against the other killings that are going on in this benighted conflict; and all conflicts that draw in and slaughter, whether by conventional, nuclear or chemical means, civilian populations.

So, while pleased this country isn't going to become embroiled in the Syrian war, I am disappointed we're crowing about democracy being exercised a few evenings ago. The fact that Labour's amendment to the government's Motion to punitively attack Syria still supported violent action tells me that Ed Miliband, and Labour, have learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

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