Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Musings: What's the Point?

The earth was squishy and smooshy from frequent showers that passed through in the night when Koko and I went out walking this morning. The sky was various shades of gray, and the land various shades of green.

The monochromatic landscape made the world seem strangely stagnant, slightly surrealistic, but the birds, though largely unseen, brought it all to life with their crowing, warbling, tweeting, chirping, trilling and cooing.

In much the same way, the voices of a few brave souls helped bring the wars in far away Iraq and Afghanistan to life for me yesterday as I listened to Democracy Now! I don’t often get to hear it any more, but I happened to be driving and tuned in just in time to hear the report on the WikiLeaks video of U.S. troops firing indiscriminately on more than a dozen civilians, including a Reuters photojournalist and his driver, in New Baghdad.

I’m not sure what was most disturbing about the report and video: hearing the soldiers laughing and joking about the shootings and a tank running over a body; hearing them beg for permission to shoot even when they can clearly see two children in a van trying to pick up the wounded; hearing them dismiss their shooting of the children by saying “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle;” seeing the BS comments from the military about the attacks printed by the newspapers; learning that the Pentagon lied about and attempted to cover up the incident, claiming they were all insurgents; or hearing Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks, note:

These are not bad apples. This is standard practice. You can hear it from the tones of the voices of the pilots that this is in fact another day at the office. These pilots have evidently and gunners have evidently become so corrupted, morally corrupted, by the war that they are looking for excuses to kill. That is why you hear this segment, “Come on, buddy! Just pick up a weapon,” when Saeed, one of the Reuters employees, is crawling on the curb. They don’t want him for intelligence value to understand the situation. The man is clearly of no threat whatsoever. He’s prostate on the ground. Everyone else has been killed. They just want an excuse to kill. And it’s some kind of—appears to me to be some kind of video game mentality where they just want to get a high score, get their kill count up. And later on you’ll hear them proudly proclaiming how they killed twelve to fifteen people.

This was followed by another report on how U.S. forces killed two pregnant women and a teenaged girl during a nighttime raid in Afghanistan, then tried to cover it up, denied it, and finally had to admit it.

Are you starting to see an ugly pattern of lies and cover ups here? And does this help you to understand why the government has added WikiLeaks to its list of enemies threatening the security of the nation? It publishes stuff that actually tells the sheeple what’s really going on, like the CIA report that discusses how to take advantage of public apathy and manipulate public opinion to keep the wars going.

As blogger extraordinaire Glenn Greenwald observed about the Iraq massacre video:

My concern with the discussions that have been triggered, though, is that there seems to be the suggestion, in many circles—not, of course, by Julian [Assange] —that this is some sort of extreme event, or this is some sort of aberration, and that’s the reason why we’re all talking about it and are horrified about it. In fact, it’s anything but rare. The only thing that’s rare about this is that we happen to know about it and are seeing it take place on video. This is something that takes place on a virtually daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places where we invade and bomb and occupy.

This is what war is. This is what the United States does in these countries. And that, I think, is the crucial point to note, along with the fact that the military fought tooth and nail to prevent this video from surfacing, precisely because they knew that it would shed light on what their actual behavior is during war, and instead of the propaganda to which we’re typically subjected.

Most people have no stomach for war. If they see it, they don’t want it, which is why American opinion turned against the Vietnam war when the body bags and atrocities were aired on TV. And that's why the government has ever since attempted to restrict what the people see by forbidding coverage (remember Grenada?), “embedding” reporters and flat-out killing independent journalists.

So it got me wondering, if we’re fighting these wars to promote “democracy and freedom” — as first President Bush and now President Obama claim — yet in the process we’re losing our own humanity and turning into a totalitarian nation — you know, doing stuff like authorizing the assassination of Americans only suspected of terrorism — what, really, is the point?


Anonymous said...

A sad commentary on what the war does to people and troops.

People make lots of money during war. Want a job? Look for "defense" contractors, factories, and manufacturing of bullets and guns.

No matter who is politically in power, it comes down to war and more wars. There must be some incentive or why do we waste money and lives in such a futile road to hoe....using the terms "democracy" and "protection from terrorist".

Governments consistently lie and the military hides information. Such heroes we are! Fighting for what and where?

Dr Freddy

Anonymous said...

From this blog 2 days ago:

"it made me think about all the soldiers and civilians embroiled in the hell of war, suffering unimaginable traumas, unfathomable grief."

Thru today's blog, it IS imaginable. They have lost their conscious perhaps. While they were laughing to shoot the reporter at that time, the reporter's image will stay with them forever.

Anonymous said...

we'll see if combat troops leave iraq in, aug of this year i think it is


Ed Coll said...

Joan, "Collateral Murder" was leaked to wikileaks by a Whistle-blower in the US Military. I follow Wikileaks on Twitter, and also a member of the Icelandic Parliament (who worked on the editing) on FB. As soon as Wikileaks published it to YouTube I was alerted and post it on my Facebook (as did others).

It took two days for mainstream media (NYT TVnets, etc and even DN) to break the story! Half a million people had already seen this underacted footage by then!! New technology and anonymous whistle-blowing is a game changer for journalism and the IMMI (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative) may indeed turn out to be the last refuge of free speech and journalists who want to do their jobs. As IF Stone said "all governments lie". Anyone who saw the footage can see it was a murderous arcade game for the military. This incident is not "an exception" or "a few bad apples" but Standing Operating Procedure.

They actually hunted down one of the Reuters employees, and then killed the good Samaritan who tried to help the wounded.

Lets chalk one up for info-anarchy, technology and anonymous speech as a powerful truth telling mechanism to out government and corporate wrongdoing.