The western military, its allies and much media connected to it, and others, too often just call it collateral damage. That includes even the mass manslaughter and beyond of innocent civilians so-called by accident – as if war is usually accidental. There are other euphemisms, more for mass slaughter in war and further to cover up those whose hands may be “drenched in blood”, even in a bloodlust. But many of these murderous wars and certainly, terror in all forms should be called out as crimes against humanity where civilians are killed in at least serious numbers. Because consider this, too that the civilians impacted by it see it not as accidents but as terror, if not terrorism and rightfully so. And such other euphemisms as “delayed humanitarian assistance”, can provide information war cover for willful, calculated damage, or for incredibly lax leadership and sloppiness. Re the Baptist hospital severely damaged in Gaza. All of this reminds one that more action is required to protect the increasingly fragile state civilians are facing in war and in terror.
Can “murder” be applied to those blocking aid assistance, resulting in many more deaths? Terribly unjust delays are a kind of collateral war damage some might say instead. Really!? This, indeed, is something to think about that preventing essential aid from getting through with unconscionable delays with little justifiable excuses should be considered as a crime against humanity?
So, think about this. Without stronger international enforcement measures, without sanitized euphemisms, for example not only will some countries not worry that much about their callous actions. Interestingly, the US largely has a “get out of jail free card” in the Hague war criminal courts for any of its citizens seen by the UN, and even well documented as committing war crimes. So, if US jets stationed on aircraft carriers near Israel flew sorties and killed thousands of innocent people in Lebanon or Palestine, their commanders would not spend a minute before international courts. And the UK has been found by UN courts as woefully in derelict of duty in following up on those of its soldiers charged with war crimes connected to Iraq. There are many other countries with similar experiences.
With all this in mind are civilians especially in the Global South finding themselves evermore in “open season” when their countries are attacked especially if they are euphemistically seen as just mostly potential collateral damage and as well, especially if their country is seen as of little positive strategic importance that the West does not have “butter up to”, for resources, for example. Then, there is the issue of racism related to geopolitics. Some countries get bombed to pieces for years without the West saying anything and certainly without the West suffering directly battlefield strife on their own territories.
Now on Hamas, further. It had few, if any qualms targeting Israelis, human beings after all, in small decent communities. Hamas did so, as if they were at some weird amusement park, thinking they were just shooting at fish in a barrel, instead. They want to call all these deaths of innocent “casualties of war”? Absolute barbaric nonsense in their murdering 1,400 plus civilians, euphemisms or propaganda should neither defend nor hide. They should be headed for Hague international crime courts, at the very least. Nor can terrorist groups be allowed to embed themselves among civilians and think by doing so they will not be tracked down for war crimes somewhere where these terrorists might be sickly called freedom fighters. The UN should have a stronger office to this end against terrorism and should try terrorists at the Hague, too. The same goes for those mercenaries who senselessly kill civilians.
I remember this idea of soullessness coming more to my better understanding of innocents being killed for so-called geopolitical advantage. It resulted from watching a movie called “Spy Games”. In it CIA handler, Nathan, played by Robert Redford, is with his agent, Tom, played by Brad Pitt that he mentors. Tom did not like all the innocent people killed in an apartment building they had blown up not long before. The dialogue goes like this: Tom: Happy? (sarcasm) Nathan: Seventy-four casualties, an apartment block leveled, one dead terrorist? Yeah, happy. Tom: We have some f…ked up barometer for success, don’t we.
Then, look at the more indirect forms of war called sanctions and horrendous fallout on civilians connected to certain American “heroes’’. For example, there is the late Madeleine Albright, still highly thought of in major Washington circles and who was the US Secretary of State. Asked by the famous journalist, Leslie Stahl of CBS at the time: “We have heard that half a million [Iraqi] children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima,” … “And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albrecht: .”whether I think that is a very hard choice,…but the price, we think, the price is worth it.” Does civilian life, including those of Third World children really count in some of the bowels of the US State department, “war rooms”?
Now, let us go back a bit and look at the so-called great Winston Churchill, wartime, UK prime minister, hero to many in the West. But, former, top White House advisor, “Patrick Buchanan makes the case that, if not for the blunders of British statesmen – Winston Churchill first among them –the horrors of two world wars and the Holocaust might have been avoided…” (Amazon com) If true, 10s of millions of civilians might have been saved. (Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War.) As an aside on Churchill’s behaviour during World War II, there are a number of books authored, mostly by thoughtful Indians dealing with Churchill and his awful impact on the Indian Bengali famine of 1943 that killed 100s of thousands of innocents. And not to forget is the firebombing of Germany that Churchill ordered that burnt alive thousands of civilians including innocent children. History matters too and the truth behind it should as Mahatmas Gandhi thought endorses. The history of not stopping the death of innocents needs pressing attention to avoid much more of what Buchanan says was avoidable.
The clock is ticking. Either the world follows such thoughts as Mahatma Gandhi’s and his various “incarnations” as those of India’s leadership like Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inclusion and peace. Or it risks the many, many more innocents perishing with few, or no one being sufficiently held to account and expeditiously so. We already saw enough of this regarding certain nations’ permissiveness towards Khalistan and Pakistani terrorists. It is time for real action with so many lives in jeopardy – and, even the whole planet.
Peter Dash extensively writes on geopolitics and humanitarian affairs. He has worked as a lecturer in the Middle East. He has also studied the region and world order at Harvard University where he was also a researcher.