Julian, Iraq and me

What is it with the way war is discussed? It’s not meant to be “fair”, it’s war.

Everyone would agree there’s been a war on for a long time – Iraq and Afghanistan – the former still bubbling under. In Wikileaks “exclusive” we learn that people behave very badly in wartime, that the Iraqi security forces have less developed notions of “fairness” in dealing with whom they perceive as the enemy than we do, and that there remains considerable debate about the exact number of civilians in particular who have died.

Julian: sponsored by Clairol

We also learn that blonde hair dye in grown men usually looks both silly and creepy

Oddly enough, the US was criticised – reasonably in many ways – for their body count obsession in Vietnam, as a surrogate marker of progress, not least because it wasn’t accurate.

These days, the organisation known as Iraq Body Count also does this, to the delight of the media, the end result of which is often to imply that the wickedness (of the US) is broadly proportional to the number of dead people in a situation. If each man’s death diminishes me, then they’re really going to town on this.

OK boys, remember to play fair

This all hits the news at the same time as the discovery of a probable mass grave of about 2000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima, from 65 years ago. One small island, 6,821 American and 21,570 Japanese combat deaths, plus civilians. Some historians argue that the island was an unnecessary target, but nobody is calling these deaths, tragic though they are, wrong, evil or unfair.

The Knife is actually against the Iraq war, and  was at the time. This was because I didn’t believe anything Tony Blair said (about virtually anything); because I couldn’t conceive Saddam Hussein as having the means or a reason to target Europe; and last but not least, I thought he could be handy in dealing with Al Qaeda.

None of this means that Wikileaks and their fans have done us a service.   The dreary egotism of Julian Assange, and the gleeful death counting in parts of the media all denote a refusal to accept the age-old fact.

War is ugly, and it always will be.


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