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Killing righteously in Iraq [The Fiji Times, April 2003]


 Killing an innocent person deliberately, is murder.  A crime punishable in the laws of every civilised country.

What do we call acts that knowingly kill thousands of innocents,  while trying to kill some other target thought to be evil?

The images of the war in Iraq

For weeks, our TV screens have been filled with the scenes of death and destruction. Dead people.  Bleeding brutalised people.  Crying, moaning, groaning, human beings. Soldiers, but mostly innocent civilians, women and children.

Whole residential neighbourhoods, homes, people blown to bits by so-called “smart” bombs, missiles, and bullets.

A one-sided war in which a giant super-power, with all the technologically advanced weapons of mass-destruction, pulverises a minor country, whose military strength and spirit was known all along to be pathetically weak.

Powerful politicians justify the war

Serious impassioned politicians justify all this killing on moral grounds.

To get rid of evil Saddam Hussein, they say.

To restore democracy and freedom in theMiddle East, they say.

To destroy the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of an evil dictator, they say.

Sorry about killing the innocents, they say.  Unfortunate “collateral”, they say.

Others point to US strategic interests in oil,Israeland control of theMiddle Eastas the reason for the war.

Fiji’s sympathies with our soldiers

But here inFiji, there is sympathy for our soldiers serving in the British and American armies inIraq.  Their families and friends pray for their safety, and send them food parcels.

And every day, the media shows us images of the “hardships” faced by the American and British soldiers (even women) fighting the war inIraq.

The media shows the sorrow of their families back home, worried about their safety and financial well-being.

And these soldiers, under orders from their superiors, invade a country which has not declared war against them.  A war which the UN said was illegal.

Under orders, the soldiers launch the bombs, missiles, bullets.  They destroy innocent peoples’ homes, cars, and pathetically poor possessions. They knowingly kill thousands of innocents.

Frightened of suicide bombers, the invading soldiers knowingly kill women and children, sitting in civilian cars.  The victims’ crime?  Trying to flee the very death and destruction that the same soldiers have brought to their country, their streets, their homes.

And the innocent deaths won’t end with the war.

Thousands of children are already known to have died inIraqbefore the war began, because of economic sanctions by the West. In the war-devastated hospitals ofIraq, more will continue to die because of a lack of funds for medicines, equipment, doctors and nurses.

The costs of war throughout the world

Throughout the world (including the United States), the massively increased expenditure on war means that there will be less available for health, education and social welfare- the three biggest hidden victims of war.

And hundreds of thousands of innocents throughout the world (including inUnited States) will die, because governments are not able to spend enough of tax-payers funds, to save their lives.   While hundreds of billions are available for war.

Wars are wars on the poor who are denied basic services

The biggest victims will be the poor and vulnerable in developing countries who are not able to cope with economic down-turns induced by such wars.

These hidden victims of war will die quietly without any obvious killers.

These quiet deaths will result from financial decisions by Finance Ministers and powerful politicians. But few will point accusing fingers at them.

The powerful who choose war

But what of those powerful political leaders and their supporters who deliberately chose war as a solution, when  the rest of the world wanted to continue with the peaceful methods?

What of those political leaders who ordered the strikes by bombs, missiles and bullets, knowing full well that thousands of innocents must also be killed.

Innocents who expressed no support for Saddam Hussein or his evil men. Innocents who did not declare war on anyone.  Innocents, who merely worked in one of  Saddam’s palaces.  Innocents whose only crime was to live in their homeland,Iraq.

Who would dare to deliberately burn a house down, killing innocent women and children inside, merely to kill a criminal known to be inside?

Yet leaders give orders to soldiers to press the buttons of mass destruction.  And soldiers do so, knowing full well that thousands of innocents will also die.

While we watch

And throughout the world, we stand by and watch innocents being killed and maimed, all in the name of democracy, freedom, and peace.

What is our share of the blame in the killing?

Some recent writers to the Editor have tried to useHitler,GermanyandJapanin World War II. to justify this war.


Perhaps they would like to listen to this old folksong by  Canadian Buffy Saint-Marie (our radio stations might have the version sung by Donovan).


The Universal Soldier

  He’s five feet two and he’s six feet four

He fights with missiles and with spears

He’s all of thirty one, and he’s only seventeen

Been a soldier for a thousand years

  He’s a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain

A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew

And he knows that he shouldn’t kill,

 and he knows he always will,

Kill you for me, my friend, and me for you

  He’s fighting for Canada, he’s fighting for France

And he’s fighting for the USA.

He’s fighting for the Russians, and he’s fighting for Japan

And he thinks we’ll put an end to war this way

  He’s fighting for democracy, he’s fighting for the Reds

He says it’s for the peace of all.

He’s the one who must decide who’s to live and who’s to die

And he never sees the writing on the wall

  But without him how would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau

Without him Caesar would have stood alone

He’s the one who gives his body as a weapon of the war

And without him all this killing can’t go on

  He’s the universal soldier and he really is to blame

His orders come from far away no more

They come from here and there, and you and me

And brothers can’t you see

This is not the way we put the end to war?

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