David Cameron and others are keen to support our arms trade. But this is what modern weapons do. They blast bodies apart, incinerate, pulverise, maim, blind, destroy. They steal life and know no mercy. And they do it ever more efficiently, ever more expensively. And they do it obscenely profitably. The only real difference is that the “civilised” world tries to keep its barbarities safely out of view. Perhaps, Isis has given us an opportunity to reflect on whether our moral high ground is awash with blood and also how our hi-tech cruelties are seen from a different perspective.
• If the video of a prisoner being burned to death displays “a level of brutality shocking even by the standards” of Islamic State, how should we describe the actions of the US and UK around the world? According to a 2012 joint report from the NYU and Stanford University law schools on US drone strikes in Pakistan, “the missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration”. Similarly barbaric, in 2008 the Sunday Times reported British forces were using Hellfire missiles in Afghanistan, creating “a pressure wave which sucks the air out of victims, shreds their internal organs and crushes their bodies”.