Still not sure how to even begin to deal with the leaked video of the killing of the two Reuters journalists in Iraq. On the one hand, others are obviously doing an eminently better job than I analyzing the whole thing, and really, it’s too depressing to even begin to rant sarcastically about this. But two quick thoughts I wanted to get off my chest as I prepare taxes for this year and reflect on all the wonderful things I’m evidently getting for my hard-earned dollars:
1) Amidst all the hand-wringing among the wingnuts and the mainstream media (who, remember, cheered this war on because it was going to be shock & awe and clean and sweet & all-American fun from start to victorious finish twenty minutes later, and only bad guys would die because we have smart bombs and we’re there as liberators and yada yada yada) there is little or no reflection on the fact that the military went to great lenghts, not only to cover up this incident and dismiss it, but to outright lie — knowingly — about the facts on the ground, both to the families of the dead (and I think all except the most dipshitty commenters would concede that the two journalists in question were not, in fact Al Queda second-in-commands and deserved to die) and to Reuters, who employed the jornalists. We saw this same M.O. with Tillman and countless other little oops’es, where the myth of the military’s infallability might genuinely be challenged with some tangible, factual evidence: when the going got rough, the evidence conveniently went missing, even though various army spokeshacks would categorically state some wildy innacurate version of the story as indisputable.
Thus, just as with the Pope and his pedophilic employees, the scandal is not only in the doing, it’s even more so in the hypocritical, deceitful denial and cover-up of what took place. And as my respect for the mainstream media continues to wane (look at NPRs pathetic coverage of the wikileaks story, or CNNs wholesale abdication of any semblance of journalistic integrity in enabling further whitewash of the military’s role in trying to make the inconvenient matter disappear), my interest in an outfit like Wikileaks can’t help but grow exponentially.
2) While not on the same grand scale, this does remind me of the My Lai massacre that took place during the Vietnam war: an atrocity committed “in our name”, killing for the hell of killing, destroying the village to save it from itself, etc. It was always striking to me how My Lai was described — rightly or not — as a tipping point in the public’s perception of the war; along with the infamous naked girl running from the napalm attack, it became the symbol of everything that was wrong with the US engagement in Vietnam, and marked the beginning of the end of the public support (or at least indifference) that would otherwise have allowed the war to continue forever (the way, apparently, we’re fine with Obama continuing Iraq and Afghanistan forever).
My point being: the implications of the Apache footage may be as atrocious as My Lai, but it will never have the same impact, even though it could and should. It clearly doesn’t disturb an audience of Fox News viewers that American helicopter pilots attacked unarmed civilians trying to rescue wounded civilians. it doesn’t disturb them that the children of a good samaritan get shot in their own neighborhood because an over-eager yahoo with a 30mm canon wants to get his war on and is given permission to do so by an army whose rules of engagement seem to be “if it doesn’t look like a US soldier, you can blow it away with impunity, no questions asked, no risk incurred.” Nobody is going ask for a follow-up on this; yesterday we saw Obama spokeshack Gibbs deliver the classic “while he’s supposed to be deeply concerned, he really doesn’t give a shit” line on behalf of the President. Somehow, morally, we as a nation have gotten to the point where this sort of thing doesn’t outrage us. Janet Jackson’s boob at the Superbowl? Definitely. Moveon calling General Petreus a traitor? Certainly. But this incident and the subsequent behavior of our armed forces? Not so much.
And so, while it was painfully refreshing to hear General McChrystal declare the perhaps soon-to-be-infamous words “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force . . .” that statement really should be a wake-up call for all the hawks who claim that we’re doing our best to limit civilian casualties and that we’re fighting a just war both in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re clearly not. We’re indiscriminately killing mostly civilians, further alienating the very populaton we’re suppsedly trying to save from itself, and at the same time, even when we do kill “bad guys” they’re really not bad guys in the sense that they’re much of a threat to us. Which does raise the point, then, again: why exactly are we tax payers still paying for this pointless exercise in bloodshed?
As an aside, there’s just something juicily ironic about the fact that Colin Powell is directly involved in both of these: he helped cover up My Lai, and he helped sell of the crock of lies about WMD in Iraq that got us into that mess. Way to go, Colin, back-to-back epic failures to bookmark your career as a soldier.