Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wikileaks' "Collateral Murder"

OK, I know this is heavy. And I want to say right from the front that I do not know that this is murder except insofar as I see all war as such. A near as I can tell, the soldiers are by and large being good soldiers: as this analyst notes, begging a guy to give you an excuse to shoot him means that you are exercising control and following the rules of engagement; while what they have to say disturbs me deeply, I agree that their language is relatively low key, and their attitude a reflection of necessary dissociation. I think that the second shooting goes beyond the rules of military engagement as I understand them (I'm going off the overview here), but hope I'm seeing these soldiers making a terrible unintentional error, not knowingly committing war crimes by firing on recognized civilians. I feel awful for them...what a thing to live with. And I feel terrible for them even before that, for the things they have chosen to do, and the ways it hurts and changes them.

My real concern is that this pretty much does reflect war: as the above link notes, "90% of what occurs in that video has been commonplace in Iraq for the last 7 years, and the 10% that differs is entirely based on the fact that two of the gentlemen killed were journalists."

With respect to our military (in which people I know, love, and admire currently serve) and all here - I know spacejace has served, and he knows my pacifist stance - should we not take a hard look at the rules of engagement? At least 100,000 and possibly over a million civilians have been killed since we arrived in Iraq, and it's a tragedy and a trauma encompassing everyone involved. The way we fight guarantees that innocent people will be killed, and when you look back over the history of wars, civilian casualties outnumber military deaths. Is there any way to at least keep the warring limited to professional combatants? I admit, I'm not sure that there is. And if there is not...well, that's where we start getting into the value of war as a method of misery reduction.

Edited to add this link. This scenario would get us to a million casualties, I think.

Also ETA this: "By now we’ve heard plenty of people’s opinions on the now famous WikiLeaks video showing the U.S. military killing 12 Iraqi civilians — from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Stephen Colbert to Josh Stieber, a former soldier turned conscientious objector who would have been on the mission over Baghdad that day. But missing from the discussion have been the voices of Iraqis themselves, those who witnessed the slaughter, and especially those whose loved ones were killed."

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