I tend to agree with Oliver Willis on that Wikileaks video.
In the case of the Wikileaks video, Greenwald characterizes it as “the plainly unjustified killing of a group of unarmed men (with their children) carrying away an unarmed, seriously wounded man to safety”. Except in the mindset of the soldiers shown, this wasn’t just some guy, but part of a group of insurgents. While it’s very clear that the military coverup of the activities was wrong, and possibly a crime, it galls me that it becomes so simple for people “over here” to Monday morning quarterback the decisions soldiers make in the field when they feel their lives and the lives of others are on the line.
Right. The action itself was horrible to watch. The decision-making seemed to be flawed. And the consequences of this scene (and numerous other similar incidents) will negatively impact us as Americans for many years to come in the form of blowback.
But I can’t accept that the soldiers involved were acting out of malice or that they deliberately killed press or civilians or children, etc. We have no evidence of this whatsoever.
I posted the video to illustrate the horrors of this war, and the ultimate futility of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I had no intention of scapegoating these soldiers. And while some of the victims on the ground are considered “collateral damage,” I also consider the soldiers to be collateral damage as well. This incident is the result of shoving soldiers into a vague and extended conflict, one in which many of them have been forced to serve too many tours of duty.
From what I understand of it, war tends to numb the brain to atrocities, and soldiers have no choice but to objectify the casualties or succumb to the tragedy of it all. To the extent there was excitement in the voices of the soldiers in the video, I tend to blame to the circumstances. Meanwhile, if we eventually learn that one of the gunners is a bloodthirsty maniac who knew there were unarmed civilians on the ground yet fired anyway, then I’ll surely say so.