By now you’ve probably heard of the leaked video showing US soldiers opening fire on unarmed Iraqi civilians. If not, see below for some clips of the video.
This video is hard to watch. A group of mostly unarmed men gunned down, some of whom were Reuters journalists. An injured man struggles, crawling down the sidewalk, trying to escape. Other unarmed civilians come to his aid, trying to be good Samaritans, only to be shot and killed by the crew of the US Apache. Very ugly.
This is doubly true when we hear the crewmen saying things like “Come on, let us shoot!,” “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards,” or when hearing how a little girl had been shot… “Well, it’s their fault bringing their kids to a battle.”
As Wikileaks editor Julian Assange says, what we see here is the corruption of the US soldiers by war itself. The crew have been desensitized to their own actions. They see it as being a video game, the targets dehumanized. The humans they are killing aren’t even human… they’ve become objects.
This video, while very grotesque, is an everyday occurrence in Iraq. About 100,000 civilians have died since the US invaded Iraq (source: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/) meaning on average 40 innocent people have died every day, in this now 7 year campaign. Of course, there is no justification for the loss of these lives and no way to rationalize these deaths as anything other than tragic.
But what this video does highlight is how the wholesale slaughter of fellow humans has become institutionalized. Modern war has become a process, a routine… like cars being built on an assembly line. But instead of making vehicles, the war industry makes death and pain, with the by-products being fear and hate.
Even if the war in Iraq ends, which is becoming more likely everyday, the war machine will still look for more places to attack. They will spread propaganda about a new threat, a new country to invade to create another stage on which to set up their assembly line of death.
The soldiers in these videos are not to blame, they are only doing what they believe is the right thing to do. It is their job, their occupation, to kill people. (Of course, if you give someone a hammer, pretty soon everything begins to look like a nail.) But it is not their job to stop the war.
Rather, it is up to everyone else to decide to stop this nonsense. It is up to the American people to recognize that war is not the answer and order the government to withdraw. It is up to the world’s people to stand up against war, and rise up against institutionalized armed conflict wherever it arises.
War will not end itself on its own… it is up to us – the world’s people – to bring an end to war.