Monday, April 5, 2010

War is not a game

Wikileaks today released unedited footage from a gun camera of what is described as an Apache helicopter.

The craft opened fire on a group of 8 men, killing all but one. That man attempted to crawl away, and was very nearly removed from the scene by a black van. Before his rescuers could get him in the van, the helicopter opens fire again, destroying the van and killing some of the occupants.

Listening to the comms chatter reminds me of some of the more gory games of Modern Warfare or Planetside I've played, and were it a game, I could empathise with the testosterone, fury and hatred that's evident in the video.

It's not a game. It's footage of an event that occured in 2007. Two Reuters journalists were killed by the american forces captured in the footage, and children in the van were injured (and were incredibly lucky not to be killed). The other civilians in the footage were not so lucky.

To see this kind of footage live is disturbing - not so much because of the actual video content, I've seen that and worse many times before in virtual environments. No, the most disturbing content is that these are people - real people - and those responsible for killing them are treating them as much less than that - they are treating them as targets, as some "unknown enemy". They talk about the victims, before during and after the shooting, with a complete lack of respect. They glory in the murders they commit.

Regardless of the justifications and motivations for this invasion, one has to watch this footage and appreciate that this is, ultimately, the end result of paying people to kill each other and giving them guns and bullets to do it with. People die. Real people die. there will always be collateral damage. There will always be mistakes. There will always be bloodthirsty angry men willing to direct harm and anger at people they don't know, to justify that act later as "the right thing to do".

One has to also wonder - why was this event covered up, and blatantly lied about by the forces in charge? If they lied about this, how can you ever trust them when they describe all of the other events in Iraq; or indeed every other war they have engaged in? This is not a new event - covering up mistakes and process is just about standard practice with most militaries these days. 

Here's some links for posterity - I suggest you only watch if you have a strong constitution.

Wikileaks has been persuing this video for a while now (weeks at least, but most likely months) - why has no other newspaper, reporting service or reputable mainstream media provider not been trying to uncover the same information? What has stopped them from digging?

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