Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Collateral Murder 1 year anniversary: reminder on Libya

One year ago today, on April 5th 2010, the world became familiar with the organization known as Wikileaks.

Before then few had heard of Wikileaks. But after a press conference in DC, mainstream media picked up on both the Collateral Murder video, Wikileaks analysis and commentary on it, and interviews with Julian Assange.

What is Collateral Murder?

CM is a video shot from an Apache helicopter in Iraq from 2007. It shows the Apache firing on unarmed men, and a civilian van coming to assist with wounded. Two of the unarmed men were journalists from the news agency Reuters. US soldiers in the Apache attempt to justify their engagement and applaud each other for their actions. Two children were in the van. Both of the children fortunately, survived.

It shows the blatant disregard for human life, and the realities of modern war overseas. Comparing it against mainstream media coverage of the wars, shows a press that is more than willing to convey the message that everything is being done to protect innocent civilians, and that we are only killing what the West collectively deems "the enemy." Everyone who is killed is an "insurgent," whether they actually are or not.

The ensuing Iraq War Logs published by Wikileaks in August of 2010 sheds light on this hard truth. Wikileaks' investigation showed that more than 15 000 civilian deaths were unaccounted for. All "insurgents" or "enemies," no doubt.

By June of 2010 just two months after the video's release, it had been viewed over 7 million times. Now, one year later, it has been viewed over 11 million times.


Collateral Murder's one-year anniversary comes at a time that allows us to reflect our current involvement in Libya.

We cannot drop bombs only on "the enemy." Though media discourse would have us believe what we read, which is that the NATO mission in Libya is strictly of a humanitarian effort to prevent a crisis. I am unaware of what kind of humanitarian operation involves the use of bombs.

The idea that we are only causing harm to one side in the course of our operations is laughable. If anything, it only shows how far we are willing to go to dehumanize others in an attempt to make everything black and white.

The late American historian Howard Zinn best captures the reality of war in my generation, and war in our time:

"We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children."

Indeed it is that.

When politicians come knocking on your door, please ensure they are aware of your feelings on our overseas military operations, and the lack of transparency and honesty surrounding them.

Bradley Manning, alleged source for providing the video to Wikileaks, was arrested one month after Collateral Murder was released, and remains in solitary confinement awaiting pre-trial to this day.

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