Thursday, April 08, 2010

Collateral Murder

I've never served in the military. Perhaps those who have will hold a different opinion of this video shot from two Apache helicopters over Baghdad, Iraq in July, 2007? Of course, whether one has "served", or not, seems to be besides the point; after all, who could watch "Collateral Murder" - a classified clip that surfaced this week from the site WikiLeaks.org- and be able to then honestly defend the cowardly and mechanical slaughter of these unarmed men? This is not battle, this is extermination. The commanders who ordered and soldiers who gleefully initiated this slaughter are a disgrace to their country and should be disciplined by the Pentagon for their despicable actions.

We see a group of men gathered, talking - one is holding a camera (which is, presumably, mistaken for a weapon). In a few moments, the order is made: "Light 'em up!" A barrage of bullets rains-down on the group. As the survivors scatter for cover, the cameras, Apaches, and gun sights zoom-in on their victims to pick them off one-by-one. The clip is a cruel and unflinching reminder of the way war is fought in the 21st century - from a distance, with no apparent connection or regard to the very real lives lost, and it is (most frightening of all) entertaining. Ultimately, nearly a dozen civilians, including 2 Rueters news employees (Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen), were killed, and two children were wounded.

Of course, some will ask - what happened before this footage? Why were American troops focused on these men at all? Certainly, there must have been a Reason! ...Or not, so often in war their never is reason. I guess I'm too busy asking questions like: why were these "disciplined soldiers" laughing like teenage boys? What was gained by this? Just "following orders" I suppose? Fuck your orders.

For the record, I do not support the occupation(s) of Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe the thousands of lives lost, billions spent to pay for these wars of Empire, and years soldiers have spent away from their families and friends have not been for our "best interests" or "security". In fact, I believe these wars are for Empire and thus, could -and should- be "fought" better through "soft power" or "non-violent" means. If President Obama wants to be remembered as a "peace President" than he should (as he says he will do) "end this war" and "bring all troops home" - now.

The "Collateral Murder" video is only one that was "leaked"; however, we've seen this same twisted behavior before in the images from Abu Ghraib. Likely, there are more videos out there waiting to surface. The chuckling soldier who says, "I think I just ran over a body! ...ha! ha!" reminds us of the smiling photos of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners. Of course, the soldiers in these occupied territories are safe inside their "green zones" and, subsequently, disconnected and removed from the suffering around them. Thus, why should they feel any remorse? "Marines are killing machines! Damnit!" ...Right? Of course. But what kind of Real soldier can look at this behavior as any kind of a Real fight? In essence, war has, become a video game. The line between play and imperialism is, yet again, further blurred.

Who really knows what will result from this video? ...Likely, nothing.

I suppose if anything constructive can be gained from this, it is that journalism is not dead - it has changed. It is a lot tougher to get through to the "real story" or any kind of "truth". Of course, even when the story is opened-up, is anyone really listening? The credit for this story should go first to those who lost their lives to these cowards and then to the hackers who decrypted the security code, the creators of WikiLeaks.org, and whomever was brave enough to "leak" this tape. Their actions show us that information -no matter how well-protected- has the potential to become viral.

One only need to crack the code, expose the lie, and spread the truth.