I'm an American. Today Wikileaks has released a video that is difficult to watch. It raises my blood pressure. Emotionally it's infuriating. I'm trying to hold a rational position to understand how this could happen and consequently what is wrong and how do we fix it. I'm not a soldier. I've never been a soldier. So my questions are clearly from ignorance, and that's part of why I want to discuss it. So if you are a soldier, or have been and can explain, please engage. For those whom would want to react, please allow the discussion to happen. I'm in shock myself, I'd just like to make sense of this.

The story can be found here along with a 17 minute video. The basics are Reuters has some journalists gathering and about to go out on assignment in "New Baghdad". They are assembled and the camera bags strike some attack helicopter pilots as AK-47's. They only see the shoulder straps and clearly no weapon, but identification is swift. The immediately request permission to engage and fire upon the group. As they are getting permission one photographer leans around a corner kneeling down and is snapping pictures. They identify it as an RPG. As they circle back around they unload killing everyone. The sole reason is the shoulder straps look like AK-47's. 

Again, not a soldier, I don't know how it is. But is this really the level of interaction that is needed for our Rules of Engagement to permit firing on a unknown group? Would we be better off with a stricter standard or would that endanger our soldiers? It strikes me that we are there to free the Iraqi's but if a shoulder strap is worthy of the death penalty, what have we freed them from? Can't we do better? 

There is much more to this story. I don't want to blather on while you can see it in the video. How can you reconcile this video with what you would have us doing over there? Who isn't bothered by this and why? I'm not looking to judge you. I'm asking in hopes of understanding and not over-reacting. It's been a while since I could feel my blood pressure raise due to a video. At minute 10, I was flush and angry, and saddened, and embarrassed. I need help to understand this..

Tags: Collateral, Iraq, Murder, War, Wikileaks

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These soldiers saw a threat, this time it was a sad case of mistaken identity, next time it may not. There is nothing we can do to try and distinguish civilians from the insurgents and that is the sad part of this. There will be more civilian deaths in the future because we wont be able to identify the people as long as the insurgents choose to continue to pose as civilians.

I don't dispute the realities of urban warfare. However, when steps are not taken to reduce civilian casualties, then you will have a bigger issue of native support for the insurgency. This is also a sad reality of urban warfare. To the credit of the United States armed forces and her allies, much is done to reduce civilian casualties. I don't think enough was done here, but again, I admit to not being familiar with any extenuating circumstances.

No I do not, and I can't see how you can see it like that. It's not a situation where the man I just failed to kill is just going to go skipping along and forget about the conflict. The man is going to be in some other battle someplace else trying to kill anyone else who is fighting against him. In this war it maybe that I just killed the guy holding the detonator for the IED that's planted along the road where many of us travel.

You can't assume that they are the enemy. They may be, but if they are not a threat, then you cannot just kill people because you think that they might be. With that attitude, you will assuredly increase civilian casualties, and that way you increase resentment in the native population. If the people in the van had weapons or operated in any way that suggested they were a threat, then I can understand. But shoot first and ask questions later is not a good policy when there is no threat.

Playing the "what if" game is stupid. If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.

I'll put reality and observation against a million "what if's", and I bet that I come out ahead by a large margin. If these guys were under some threat, then fine. But it doesn't appear that after the initial salvo, that they or any other friendly's in that area were under threat from these men.



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