Mr Blair's blood count
Wednesday September 10, 2003
So, the lean and noble figure of Alastair Campbell jogs away from No 10, a whole new selection of profitable marathons opening up, and the luscious and reliable figure of Mandy slips back in. Doesn't it all impregnate you with confidence and pride? Or do I mean nauseous rage and the kind of revolted neuralgia that makes you want to snap your own shins as a distraction? Apart from being an insult to every benighted UK voter, it just isn't dealing with our central problem - the one involving Mr Blair and all that blood.
Obviously, we shouldn't take the phrase "blood on his hands" terribly literally, because that wouldn't be fair - Blair's only our prime minister, sitting at the centre of a complex and sophisticated network of advisers and in possession of global influence and serious investment capital. You wouldn't want to go holding him responsible for things. So I'm trying to approach the whole blood issue in a considered way.
I am willing to ignore the blood spilled as a result of Blair's transport policies, Blair's health policies and Blair's decisions relating to arms sales and the escalating bloodbath that is Afghanistan. This leaves me with only Iraq - a country where a good deal of blood has undoubtedly been shed; but a little rational consideration will undoubtedly render the accumulated volume really quite palatable.
Naturally, in the interests of Truth and Justice, we wouldn't want to include the blood of Iraqi servicemen, because the ones the CIA couldn't buy off beforehand were, therefore, Evil and deserved to die. Which leaves the blood of Iraqi civilians.
Of course, it's tricky to establish the true levels of civilian injury and death in Iraq, due to it being a very big place and looking all the same because of the sand. Estimates of the completely dead vary between 37,137 and the much more comfortable 6,118. Your average person contains around eight pints of blood, but Iraqis have suffered various medical difficulties caused by starvation, stress and speaking Arabic, so let's guess there are seven pints in each Iraqi adult. And many of the casualties - say 3,000 - will actually have been kiddies, whom we'll average out at three pints each.
That makes 21,826 adult pints and 9,000 junior pints. Not all the blood in someone leaves their body when they die, so we might want to round those 30,826 possible pints down to 27,000. Then we add in the 20,000 or so civilian wounded - three pints each seems not unreasonable - and we get another 60,000, which brings us up to 87,000 pints of Iraqi Blood Spilled.
Now one wouldn't want to be racist about this, but Iraqi blood does seem to matter a good deal less than more civilised, more Christian, more Caucasian blood. After all, if that's what God is telling George Bush, then who are we to argue, or to wonder why US forces include 37,401 non-US citizens? If they survive their (now possibly two-year) tours of duty, they may win a coveted US passport, and, if not, well, they were only foreigners.
Naturally, all US military personnel, despite pisspoor support from contractors unwilling to work in war zones, are healthy and stuffed with at least eight pints each. That makes 2,288 pints available from US dead at the time of writing. Round that down to 2,000 for actual Blood Spilled and then reduce by, oh, another 40 pints to account for the two who died of mystery pneumonia and the three who popped off in their sleep. So that's 1,960 pints.
Curiously, the numbers of US injured are almost impossible to ascertain. Official sources quote 1,124, while sources at the Andrews airforce base say they've processed more than 4,000 wounded. But I feel we should always trust official figures, which gives us 3,372 pints and a total of 5,332 pints of US Blood Spilled.
Then there were those two coalition-of-the-willing guys who died - say, 14 pints from them. And those 17 journalists who snuffed it. Oddly, only two were embedded journos (one died in his sleep, one in an accident), while the rest were reckless, probably pro-terrorist, independents, who were, quite reasonably, mainly killed by US forces - producing say, 105 pints, all in.
British deaths, with which we are, of course, most concerned, amount to 50 at the time of writing - let's chalk up 350 pints from them. Numbers of wounded are open to debate, but seem set at four. So we'll top up with another 12 UK pints for luck.
Excluding Dr Kelly's contribution, this brings us to a minimum Total Blood Spilled of 92,811 pints - or a touch over 11,600 gallons of human blood on Blair's hands, the hands of the man who still runs our country, blood that I just can't help imagining - a dark, congealing lake of misery and waste and our leader there in it, sinking.