Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Opinion Letters

Double standards on Syrian civilian deaths sickening

Published 07/12/2015

A fundamental question in the parliamentary debate on Syrian air strikes was not faced and will not be faced because it would call into question the whole enterprise. It is: how many Syrian civilians are likely to be killed?

Of course, the answer is uncertain, but some sort of estimate has not been made, at least publicly.

Already the US has dropped almost 3,000 bombs on Syria and since September France has joined the campaign.

How many civilians have they killed? We do not know, nor do the American and French governments offer us any figures.

Curiously, however, we do have an estimate of the number killed by the Russian air strikes since September.

According to a couple of anti-Assad Syrian groups, it is 400-500, including about 100 children. Yet there are no corresponding figures for US-French attacks.

There is nothing new in this. The attack on Iraq that began in 2003 led to massive numbers of civilians deaths. According to an academic study in 2013, it was 461,000.

The Lancet has given a figure of more than 600,000 and some others have put it at more than a million. There was no proportionality here between Iraqi and Western mortality.

If we in the West really value Iraqi and Syrian lives, we should be demanding of our governments that they give us estimates of the numbers they have killed or are likely to kill by going to war in these countries.

Such enormous destructive potential should not be brushed off in the manner of US Commander Tommy Franks: "We don't do body counts."

If, during the Troubles, the British Government had contemplated bombing Dundalk (because many IRA members used it as a base), there would have been a Western outcry - not least because of the number of innocent people who were likely to be killed.

In the light of such glaring double standards, is it altogether surprising that many young Islamic radicals are not well disposed to some Western societies, or to the lives of our citizens?

BRIAN McCLINTON

Lisburn, Co Antrim

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph