A video of several Iraqi citizens and two Reuters correspondents being murdered by American soldiers was released to the public today:
There's no gore but it's difficult to watch.
We haven't heard as much about American war crimes and atrocities lately. Such things have seemed less relevant because a Democrat's in the White House (And he even has a Nobel Peace Prize - hope he doesn't just settle for one!). In our peculiar sliding scale of modern values, the military isn't evil so long as it's led by compassionate progressives.
Still, this video is pretty bad and will probably get a lot of attention. It's from an engagement in Baghdad back in 2007, evidence of which had been surpressed by the military. The video was leaked out despite the military's efforts to prevent it, and you can see why it was surpressed. The video paints a much different picture of the event than does the official version.
What's fascinating about the lead up to the attack is how the soldiers in the two attack helicopters feed off each other's nerves and perceptions, turning an innocent gaggle of chatting guys into a band of heavily armed insurgents. Remember that two of the victims worked for the Reuters news service. One was carrying a camera and was actually doing his job at the time of the attack. But the US soldiers could only see enemies. One soldier thinks he sees a gun, then another sees one, then all of a sudden there's five or six gunmen, next a soldier thinks someone's got a rocket-propelled-grenade, next another soldier is sure of it, and now they're pointing their launcher at the helicopter and now the soldiers are asking base for permission to blow them up. Permission is granted, and as soon as there's a clear shot, the helicopter opens up with a powerful 30-mm cannon that tears the bodies of these men apart.
One of the victims survived the initial attack, but was badly wounded and couldn't get up. A passing motorist saw him at the side of the road and, being a good samaritan, stopped to help. He and another man got out and lifted the wounded man up to take him to the hospital. At that point the helicopter gunship opened up again, and blew up the vehicle, killing the good samaritan, the wounded man, and injuring two children in the van.
Our military papered this event over with lies, one representative saying "There is no question that Coalition Forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force." This sort of thing makes it difficult to accept "official" versions of stories without corroborating evidence.
I have a lot of strong thoughts and emotions about this. Like who are the good guys here? I have a much higher regard for the fellow who sealed his doom by stopping to help than I do for the GIs who begged their base for permission to shoot and laughed and celebrated their kills. Which of these people was making the world a better place? More to the point, what kind of soldiers would you prefer to see in the military - the kind that are regretful and reluctant to use their deadly force, or the kind that treat combat like a video game?
Speaking of how soldiers are, the military wants a soldier who obeys orders unquestioningly - kills whom he is told to kill, and spares whom he is told to spare. Such a man has given over his humanity to his leaders - his moral sense is subsumed into theirs.
So that's what the military wants. Is that what God wants? What can we say about a machine that functions best when its participants play the parts of unthinking cogs? It is hard to respect any soldier who could not disobey an order he knew was morally wrong.
I feel bad for the kids in those helicopters. The Iraqis may have left their body parts strewn around that scene, but the soldiers left parts of their own souls.
War is hell for making enemies out of decent men.