Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Look at those dead bastards"

I don't often blog about global politics, not because I'm uninterested or free of opinions but because I don't know what I can add to the discourse already out there. I do care about injustice, but the global scale and systematic nature of it has, at least in recent years, left me staggered and therefore virtually silent. Seven years ago I felt pressed to post an article on my website about the criminal invasion of Iraq by the United States. Although I was right about everything I wrote (you can read it here), the article is little more than an emotional outburst and I don't particularly recommend it. I haven't written anything on the subject since then.

But today I am chilled to the bone by something I just saw on the net and I would like all readers of this blog to see it. Maybe some already have and I hope the major news media in India pick it up (but it's not certain they will). I'm referring to a video taken in 2007 from a US helicopter gunship over a suburb of Baghdad. The crew of the helicopter opened fire, completely unprovoked, on a group of men that included two Reuters employees: a photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and a driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40. They killed everyone except Saeed who was badly wounded. When a van pulled up and two men got out to save Saeed, the helicopter opened fire again, wiping out the men as well as Saeed and injuring two terrified children in the van.

The classified US military video was leaked and released yesterday on the website wikileaks.org. An article in today's Guardian describes the video. To quote a few lines: "The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire. `Hahaha. I hit 'em," shouts one of the American crew. Another responds a little later: "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards." The article goes on to say "The behaviour of the pilots is like a computer game." and that's absolutely true, as you'll see.

I suggest you start by reading the Guardian article, then go straight to wikileaks.org and spend a deeply disturbing 17 minutes and 47 seconds watching the video.


vbalki said...

It HAS become a video game for this generation of soldiers, pushed into real-life combat when they're a little over 18 years of age, graduating straight from zapping aliens in a virtual world to zapping real-life aliens. They're all blips on a screen as far as the zappers are concerned. Really scary.

Mohit said...

How abhorrent the video may be, it cannot and should not be compared to the crimes committed by the US administration.
US administration will cast this event as a one off event and the opponents of the war as another evidence of a wrong war gone bad. In my opinion both are off target. Even if such behavior by the military is common place, these crimes committed in the war zone are miniscule compared to the crimes committed by the government officials who took the decision to go to the war.

Cheeta said...

The 'leaked' video is currently the lead story on CNN's website. You can read the article here.

The CNN article quotes from 'official' U.S. investigations into the event, the conclusion being that the killings were justified because the helicopter crew 'could easily have mistaken' the photographic equipment being carried for weapons, and so would have believed the people on the ground were armed militants.

There is no mention of what was done to re-train American soldiers to better distinguish cameras and tripods from AK47s, and to tell friend from foe; the assumption has to be that nothing was.

Sands | കരിങ്കല്ല് said...

How can one blame those children (and the children or relatives of the dead) if they turn out to be terrorists?

I don't even know how to respond! :(