Algeria, Mali and why this week has looked like an obscene remake of Western interventions

Algeria, Mali and why this week has looked like an obscene remake of Western interventions

 

Odd, isn’t it, how our “collateral damage” is different from their “collateral damage”.

Speaking yesterday to an old Algerian friend in the aviation business, I asked him what he thought of his country’s raid on the In Amenas gas plant.

“Brilliant operation, Robert,” he shouted down the phone. “We destroyed the terrorists!” But the innocent hostages? What about their deaths, I asked?

“Poor guys,” he replied. “We had thousands of women and children killed in our war [in the 1990s] – terrible tragedy – but we are fighting terrorism.”

And there you have it. Our dead men didn’t matter in the slightest to him. And he had a point, didn’t he? For we are outraged today, not by the massacre of the innocents, but because the hostages killed by the Algerian army – along with some of their captors – were largely white, blue-eyed chaps rather than darker, brown-eyed chaps .

Had all the “Western” hostages – I am including the Japanese in this ridiculous, all-purpose definition – been rescued and had the innocent dead all been Algerian, there would have been no talk yesterday of a “botched raid”.

If all those slaughtered in the Algerian helicopter bombing had been Algerian, we would have mentioned the “tragic consequences” of the raid, but our headlines would have dwelt on the courage and efficiency of Algeria’s military rescuers, alongside interviews with grateful Western families.

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