Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Human Cost of War

... Or more specificially, the title should perhaps be The Human Cost of Someone Else's War ...

There must be a first rule - humanity, above all else. No other ideology - religious, political, economic, fashion or tradtion is equal to that first rule.

The downing of the the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 still has me in a state of shock. It seems to come admist a number of human tragedy/gloom stories making the news of late (including the current conflicts in Syria/Iraq/Palestine/Waziristan). At times like this I am forced to pause and return to that 'first rule' - humanity - the most sacred thing worth 'fighting' for. All else is second.

In the current Israeli-Palestinian bombardment, the major news-networks are cautiously selective and present a somewhat sanitised view; not quite able to be fully critical of Israeli aggression, despite a track record and a revealing body of evidence. Hamas is also responsible for aggression, so deaths and injury must not be sugar-coated but here is a clear case of imbalanced response. Considering that Jewish suffering during the Second World War is still within living memory of some, I can never understand how the Israeli state can have complete disregard for the most basic of human compassion.

The Pakistan army operation in Waziristan (Zarb-e-Azb) - again is illustrative of another human tragedy where the rights and wrongs of the conflict have disregarded basic humanity towards ordinary people who are caught in the cross-fire. Most Pashtuns in the tribal belt wish only to protect their land and possesions. Collective punishment, seemingly deemed legitimate in both the Israeli and the Pakistani case treats the innocent as expendable.

The same could be said for the non-combatant civilians caught in Iraq and Syria, and of course between the Russian-backed rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukranian government. The recent downing of the aeroplane is  exactly that - innocents caught up in someone else's war. A real human tragedy and one that has shaken my faith in others. I always expect humans to show humanity, but am fast adapting to the reality that this isn't always so. Pessimism perhaps. Somehow I must hang on to hope, as I fully endorse those genuine fights for autonomy, self-determination and rule of law. But this cannot be justified by mindless acts of violence where innocent humans have to pay for the costs of someone else's war.


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