“Collateral Murder”

6 04 2010

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11 responses

6 04 2010
burstmode

War is hell, my friend.

7 04 2010
8 04 2010
johanna

This isn’t war. This is punishment and it’s only hell for the recipients.

9 04 2010
burstmode

Seems the video is a bit one-sided, too. In fact, the video’s producer even admits that there were grenade launchers and AK47s on the scene. Also, the video is only the end and a small piece of a day-long fight. The documentary takes pains to point out cameras and correspondents but does not do the same with the weaponry.

Another telling detail is that the streets are empty except for the group of men. This is a crowded city during the day. It is obvious these were not a group of friends hanging out and talking.

I am not saying that what happened here was OK. I am saying this video is not telling the whole of a complex story. It is little more than one-sided propaganda. If you want to believe it, fine BUT remember that it is designed to manipulate you and not to present facts.

9 04 2010
Royce Christian

Actually, I think the fact that there are guys with guns adds to the authenticity of the video. Can you honestly tell me how many journalists employed by Reuters are going to go traipsing around downtown Baghdad without armed guards to prevent bad things happening?

Even I saw a guy lift an ak, but the fact that there are guys with guns does not immediately mean they are hostiles and enemies, especially as they must have been aware that there was a military helicopter circling overhead. Insurgents are not going to walk down the middle of the street, armed to the nines, in the middle of the day with an Apache just above them — if they did, the war in Iraq would have been over long ago.

9 04 2010
burstmode

I don’t like defending what happened but you are naive. There was fighting in the area the entire day. The correspondents do not typically have armed guards. Sadly, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There were 2 Apaches…the fellows on the ground focused on one while the other slipped around behind them. It is a common tactic. Rocket propelled grenades had recently been fired, AK47 had recently hit one of the Apaches.

The outcome is horrible to see. Maybe the US is wrong for being there. But there is no murder here…it is war and two desperate groups of men were willing to die for the causes. One group did just that. Fruitless? Maybe so.

10 04 2010
johanna

If it is wrong for the US to be there, then every death it’s dealt so far in Iraq is murder. But I think what we’re seeing here (being that it’s the norm and not something out of the ordinary, as a US general admitted a few weeks ago), illustrates that what the US is doing in Iraq is not war (which is why I called it punishment) and is evidence that it’s wrong to be there. For there ever to be any justification for engaging in war, it ought to be a defensive act.

Did Iraqis steal something of ours and this event is one part of an effort to get it back? No.

Did Iraqis occupy territory that legitimately belongs to the US or to someone who’s asked for the assistance in getting it back? No.

Did Iraqis take innocent Americans hostage? No.

There’s a death missile aimed at the US and we know where it is and this event is part of an effort to get to it and defuse it? No.

Damsel in distress crying for the US to help and this event is part of an effort to reach her and set her free? No.

I can’t find the exact quotes anymore, so I’ll have to paraphrase from some US soldiers who have commented on this recently in order to defend the actions of the shooters:

“I’ll kill anyone who hates our American way of life even if it’s a kid.”

So what is the US “defending”? It’s stamping out hatred of “the American way of life”. That’s not war. That is punishment.

Which is why the gunners sound curiously … not … desperate.

10 04 2010
burstmode

I said I was not defending the US position, I simply don’t think this video shows murder. It shows highly trained, calm warriors blasting the heck out of human beings and however repugnant it is, it isn’t illegal.

10 04 2010
SJE

It’s nice to see good military work in action. Next time photographers will pay more attention to the Rules of Engagement. Long lens camera: $318.49. Getting chummy with the bad boys in Sadr City when an Apache helicopter is circling the scene: Priceless.

10 04 2010
Royce Christian

@Burstmode

I have to show you respect for being critical for what you are viewing. I agree that wikileaks has presented the videos in a certain way and we have to be careful not to swallow it hook line and sinker. I also agree with a lot of what you have said.

Strictly speaking, yes, these deaths will never be considered ‘murder’ by any court run by the state because they were conducted with ‘lawful authority’. Case closed. In that strict legal sense, they aren’t murder — it’s been rubber stamped by bureaucrats and parliamentarians.

That is only one side to the argument if you are going to argue legality; there is a huge gap between ‘potential threats’ and ‘insurgents engaged in hostile operations’, or words to that effect. Given the violence in Iraq at that time period and, as you pointed out, there was fighting earlier that day, it is ridiculous for the military to consider everyone who is armed to be active enemy insurgents. If you do, it will end with the deaths of thousands of Iraqis — and it has. I would also call into question how accurate claims are that ‘weapons were found on the bodies’, considering that there is testimony by US soldiers that they had been told to carry ‘drop weapons’ to leave behind with corpses when no weapons were found.

Then it is also necessary to consider whether the group on the ground — who we have to believe are rational people — were in fact hostile, as you say, they noticed the first Apache and hadn’t made any moves to attack or down it. The fact that the Apache had been fired on ‘recently’ does not necessarily imply that it was these guys gathered in the street. Isn’t a possibility that they had heard the fighting and gathered in the street to discuss what was going on, guns or no guns, attracting the reporters, before the group noticed the first Apache circling? It seems to me, that if they had in fact been recently fired upon, those soldiers in the Apache’s felt threatened and wanted to kill someone to reassure themselves that they had made the enemy pay. A gathering of men in the street after a firefight may have simply made a easy target.

Whatever the truth, the fact that remains that, more or less, what occurred is entirely legal (returning earlier to my ‘lawful justification’ point) and this is precisely the problem. I agree with you, and you’re exactly right in saying that the only real thing this video shows is cold, calculated, highly trained military personal shooting at other people — good samaritans and children included. The fact that this is business as usual just goes to make this even more repulsive and instead smears blood over all institutions of government that allow it.

@SJE

Well SJE, your attempts at provoking a response are a little transparent, but you should take care to remember that it’s not just “the enemy” out to kill them; it’s the other soldiers, officers, politicians and civilians that chant and cheer and order them forward into the sights of “the enemy”. Hope you can sleep well being one of the “bad guys”.

10 04 2010
Royce Christian

By the way Burstmode, thought I should mention, I love your photography. 😉

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