Collateral murder in Iraq

Thanks to Wikileaks we have this graphic video of the US military essentially murdering unarmed civilians (including a Reuters photographer) in Iraq:

At the time of the incident in 2007, the US military lied about murders, saying “there is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.” No disciplinary action was taken.

This sort of tragedy and crime is the logical result of war. It’s not even an uncommon event in Iraq or Afghanistan. In any military force there will be bad soldiers and many more twisted by the stress of daily combat. Since those soldiers have guns and a mindset very different from your local police (killing people is their #1 job), people are going to get killed and they aren’t always going to be the enemy. That’s why war must always be the last resort

Seven years later can we yet point to any good that’s come of the Iraq war, especially in light of its tremendous toll on Iraqi and American lives?

5 Comments

  1. I watched this and was disgusted…as an ex combat trooper…I have to see any American doing such horrible things….makes us look like a barbaric country with blood thirsty citizens….

  2. Clint

    I’m impressed with WikiLeaks. To obtain this, resist Pentagon pressure and distribute it so widely seems like quite a feat. Could be an important moment in the history of this war-turned-occupation.

  3. Chris

    Clint,
    The founder of Wikileaks mentioned yesterday on MSNBC that he has a lot more similar videos.

  4. Ian

    I’ve suggested before that you make it so we can comment on those little “Quick Hits”, because they do make good starting points for discussion. Also, I think it would be cool if there was sort of an archive for those to scroll through (without going to the Twitter account). Just my opinion. This one in particular stood out to me, and I think its relevant to this post so I will comment here:

    “Its beyond me how someone who was pro-war,could watch this vid http://is.gd/bfRo3 &not be horrified at blood on their hands”

    I’m going to give WWW the benefit of the doubt and hope that you are just reposting Greenwald’s comment because you think the idea is worth pondering, and not that you necessarily agree with it. So here is my “pondering” (and for the record, I am a pacifist):

    First, the notion of “pro-war”. No one who is sane is “pro-war”. That is akin to calling someone “pro-abortion”. Greenwald arbitrarily draws a line in the sand between those who are “pro-war” and the unmentioned “anti-war”, to which Greenwald obviously counts himself. He is thus removing any place for a nuanced discussion about the issues at hand, instead likening those who are “pro-war” to murderers with blood on their hands. You are either with him, or you are a murderer. That’s not productive discourse, and it likely does a disservice to bringing about any lasting positive change.

    Next the notion of “blood on the hands”. Greenwald takes the blame for the incident shown in the video and places the blame on those who are “pro-war”, or at least brands them accomplices to murder. The important question this raises is who really is responsible? You can say that only the soldiers there in that video and the people in charge of them who let this happen were responsible. The other possibility would be to say that all tax-paying American citizens are responsible, since they elected the government and funded the soldiers. The soldiers are obviously to blame in this incident, but the question becomes are the taxpayers? Greenwald says yes, but only those who are “pro-war”. I’m sorry, that isn’t how this works. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that a “pro-war” person is any more responsible for that incident than an “anti-war” person because of two facts: BOTH people paid their taxes which funded the military, and NEITHER person was there when the incident happened. So its either both are responsible, or neither are. I think the answer is somewhere in between.

    Certainly we all are responsible as Americans for the war. We elected the government that has led us to and kept us in the war. We pay our taxes. “Dissent” does not make you innocent. If you don’t want your taxes, which represent a fraction of your labor, to fund a war, you can refuse to pay them and accept the consequences. You can work harder to get “anti-war” politicians elected. You can leave the country. Were we as citizens responsible for the events that took place in that video? Absolutely not. Look at it another way, are “pro-police” people responsible for police brutality? Are “anti-prohibition” people responsible for people getting killed by drunk-drivers?

    This is not, as Chris put it, a “logical result of war”. There is no logic behind this. This was just awful. These are some pretty screwed up people. This isn’t about war, this is just the ugliness of human nature which manifests itself all over the world in all kinds of situations. War is a terrible thing, but we don’t have to accept this as a natural consequence of it. We can hold our military and its leaders to a higher standard. This video is a powerful reminder that we need to be more aware of what out military is doing, and we need to ensure there are serious consequences for such actions.

  5. Chris

    Ian,
    Reworking Quick Hits will be my next big feature addition to the site. I know how to do it, I just have to find the time.

    As for your comment I agree that we all share some responsibility for the actions of our country even if we don’t agree with them. We certainly have a duty to be aware of the evil done in our name. With that said, people who advocated for the invasion of Iraq and its continued occupation are more responsible. I don’t see how anyone could claim otherwise.

    I also don’t think it’s out of bounds to say that some of these people are “pro-war.” Have you read or listened to Bill Kristol? Charles Krauthammer? They haven’t met a global challenge that couldn’t be solved by bullets and bombs.

    Perhaps the kind of act depicted in the video isn’t a “logical result of war” but it’s not exactly rare.