The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Unlike 'passing away', 'collateral damage' is a malign euphemism - Orwellian doublespeak - for 'civilian casualty'. The phrase hides the fact that men, women, and children were killed in bombing attacks and tries to suggest that they were killed 'unintentionally'. To describe human beings whose life has been snuffed out by bombs as 'damage' is repugnant to many people. It is to me. The claim that the killing was 'unintentional' is important to the killer. It makes the killing of civilians in war all right - at least to proponents of the Christian Just-War Ethic (JWE): "When we do a thing [warfaring] for a good and lawful purpose, if thereby we unintentionally cause harm to anyone, it should by no means be imputed to us", wrote Augustine 1500 years ago. Thus 'unintended' (incidental) effects on civilians can be discounted. That's why the US military insists on 'unintended' when it kills civilians. They are all good Christians - the military. 'Collateral damage' dates back to the Vietnam war. The US killed three million Vietnamese in that war - all 'collateral damage'. Originally 'collateral damage' referred to human beings only. Now the military uses it to include damage to civilian buildings. For example: 'The GWAPS therefore openly states where collateral damage was caused...' Here is a poem about the life behind 'collateral damage': _________________________________________________________________ Arguments Against the Bombing consider the infinite fragility of an infant's skull how the bones lie soft and open only time knitting them shut consider a delicate porcelain bowl how it crushes under a single blow in one moment whole years disappear consider that beneath the din of explosions no song can be heard no cry consider your own sky on fire your name erased your children's lives 'a price worth paying' consider the faces you do not see the eyes you refuse to meet 'collateral damage' how in these words the world cracks open Illustration by Emily Johns _________________________________________________________________ Poem by Lisa Suhair Majaj. First published in Al Jadid, Winter 1998. Illustration by Emily Johns _________________________________________________________________ collateral damage: ordinary people who are killed in war. ['Collateral damage' is a phrase used by the military so that we don't think about the fact that military action kills innocent people.] new internationalist issue 316 - September 1999 _________________________________________________________________ --Elga Sutter _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk