The Blanket

Innocent Blood

Eric Hayes Patkowski • April 2003


I noticed the Danny Morrison quote that Anthony McIntyre used to open his 10 April contribution "Baghdad - First They Cheered And Then They..."

In particular, it was the point Morrison made about Tony Blair being the same man who stood on the streets of Omagh in August of 1998 and "declared that no cause is worth shedding one drop of innocent blood."

The concern for human life on the one hand, and the callous indifference to human suffering on the other, is British foreign policy at its most glaring arrogance -- witness British Defence Secretary Geof Hoon's suggestion the other day that mothers of Iraqi children killed by cluster bombs would "one day" thank Britain for their use.

To Hoon and the rest of the British (and US) military establishment, the "liberation" of Iraq is a greater concern than the loss of these mothers' children. Hence the reckless targetting of residential areas resulting in the deaths of civilians, under the assumption that Saddam Hussein or any other Iraqi Minister may or may not be in a specific home or restaurant.

But to Blair and Hoon, as with Bush and Rumsfeld, the ultimate "liberation" of Iraq makes these "mistakes" and the loss of life worth it, and as Hoon says, the Iraqi people will one day thank the foreign invaders and occupation forces for "liberating" them from their friends and their families.

Imagine the cries of outrage and disbelief if the IRA or the INLA had suggested that the relatives of people killed by republican actions would one day thank them, that the liberation of Ireland from the Brits would be greater than the loss of life taken to achieve that goal?

What would the reaction have been if the Reals had said that after Omagh? We know what Blair said -- "no cause is worth shedding one drop of innocent blood."

As we watch the bombs fall, as we watch the RIR and the Desert Rats and the 101st and 82nd and other divisions, brigades and regiments shoot their big guns or throw their grenades at off-camera targets, as we hear of the "dozens" of enemy forces killed at this firefight or that airstrike, I'm struck by the absence of a particular phrase used in the last war -- "collateral damage."

Even if the media outlets refer to dead children, their mothers, and their grandparents killed by errant or targetted missiles or by checkpoint shootings, no longer is it a matter of concern, because the greater cause is more important than the bumps and minor inconveniences along the way, and "collateral damage" implies that there was ever concern for "innocent blood".

The death of innocent civilians, we were warned before the war, is regrettable, but in war, it's going to happen, and it should not detract from the greater goal. That warning, coming before civilian deaths, showed the utter lack of concern for the very people Bush and Blair claim to have liberated.

This is the message of Britain, this is the message of the United States. It is barbaric, it is brutal, it is arrogant, especially taken in the context of their position on "innocent blood" in Ireland. But bully for the bullies. It is their war, they are enjoying it. I expect nothing less from them.




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