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Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq

A documentary about the effect of war on children ‘Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq’ is a video worth watching. It presents the devastating effects of war on the people rather than the politics. The sanctions that have hit Iraq since the start of the war have killed more people than the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan. These are not the sort of statistics we hear about on the media which is precisely what the filmmaker John Pilger wants to show.

When a society is hit by war, social changes start to take place within its realm that are not necessarily acceptable to the people. These social changes in turn start to create a conflict that is hard to control in an already violent society. The society starts to undergo socio-cultural changes as it tries to survive striving to sustain life in its more primitive form and in doing so the laws and regulations that usually control a society slowly break down. The filmmaker shows how the sanctions have created a status quo that is hard to break.

People are dying from curable diseases. The social structure is breaking down and in turn the basic needs of the people especially for the children are not being met. The social conflict within the society has caused the war to be sent to the background and created a need to first control the people. Most sociological theories are based on law and civilization. They are based on logic. Yet, when we consider the consequences of war and sanctions the theories become inapplicable simply because war simply breaks down the veneer of civilization.

The Rational theories of war assume that both the sides participating in the war are rational. Each side wants the best possible outcome with the least possibility of loss and property to its own side. However, when actual war takes place the barriers of society begin to breakdown. There is no control and the rules that govern society in a normal environment no longer apply. This is a time when people resort to the survival of the fittest and hence create a form of conflict that is in its basest form.

Children being born to a society that has no social structure, they have no health regulations and they are losing their childhood from the day they are born. Poverty is becoming the norm and social classes no longer exist as the rich have left the country and those who cannot afford to leave can no longer afford to live. We are seeing in Iraq a form of conflict that has nothing to do with war anymore and everything to do with survival. The society has forgotten what the war was about and the political forces can no longer control the people.

The sociological theories sociologists like to use to explain war can no longer explain why a child no longer has clean water to drink and why the mortality rate is rising every day. War is supposed to be a controlled form of conflict but what we are seeing today is a breakdown of society. International theories of war by people like Geoffrey Blainey like to explain this by suggesting one side sometimes miscalculates their capability. However as we view the documentary we see that it is not as much about war as the consequences of war.

People killed by guns and violence can be explained away as casualties of war but when we see children dying because they do not have the basic necessities like water and shelter, food and drugs then it is not as much about war as it is about politics. War as the filmmaker explains usually starts with a high moral ground. The politicians are trying to save society from external oppressors. The Iraq war started to oust Saddam and save the people of Iraq from brutality.

Yet, these same people are dying at the hands of the people that started the war as the sanctions from the US, UK and European countries is slowly breaking down the social structure of the Iraq society and bringing the people to its knees. Eradicating the culture and pitting the people against each other as survival becomes the foremost issue. The very base of morality is being lost as usually happens when humans lose their social values and civilization and its rules become inapplicable. References Browning, H. O. 1975 Crisis: An Historical View, foreword by G. Blainey, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, N. S. W. , 1985, 340pp.

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