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This is what we do to looters
April 25, 2004 5:38 PM   Subscribe

This is what we do to looters (3Mb windows media video) This clip comes from Frontline, showing a US tank crew confronting some Iraqis taking some wood. I'll give a quick preview: it's probably not the best way for Americans to build US-Iraq relations. [via rc3]
posted by mathowie (121 comments total)

 
Wooo yeah...

Militaries make for poor, poor police forces.
posted by kavasa at 5:46 PM on April 25, 2004


rosepetals.... check.

open arms.... check.

hearts and minds....

check.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:47 PM on April 25, 2004


Why didn't they follow them home and torch their homes / apartments too? I mean, they were stealing wood. Shoulda shot that kid too.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:48 PM on April 25, 2004


yeah, Army personnel are not exactly trained as policemen... the whole "getting to know the locals" bit tends to make you not want to kill the locals. I'm assuming that the narrator will hear from his superiors, right?
posted by zekinskia at 5:48 PM on April 25, 2004


I guess my biggest problem was the part where the guy goes "we tried to tell them but they didn't understand, so we're doing this to teach them..."

Why not remove the wood from their car, put it back where it was, and make waving arm motions for "NO!" instead of doing what they did?
posted by mathowie at 5:53 PM on April 25, 2004


how staged was this fucker? check out the sudden camera switch from the front to the back of the car in order to capture the dramatic mounting by the tank. check out the sassy camera angle on that sunglasses dude as he splains da consequence of looting in the manner of a rap video on mtv. i'd still slap the shit out of the bunch of them, but not before i slapped the shit out of the fratboy-cum-televangelising moron-with-a-mission-from-god who put them there.
posted by quonsar at 6:01 PM on April 25, 2004


I saw that on the news months ago (six, maybe?) - this is a really old clip.
posted by Ryvar at 6:02 PM on April 25, 2004


You should see what they did to the guy who didn't get them their pizza delivery on time.
posted by ColdChef at 6:05 PM on April 25, 2004


So this is liberation ... When I saw this on Frontline, it kind of summed up for me why the whole thing is so screwed. It's not surprising that months later the US army is now barricaded into compounds and only have contact with Iraqis through the foresights of guns.

Why not remove the wood from their car, put it back where it was, and make waving arm motions for "NO!" instead of doing what they did?

Probably a mixture of (a) a tank (b) adrenaline (c) xenophobic expectations of Iraqis/Muslims (d) uppers and (e) a camera present. IIRC this was quite soon after the invasion, these guys may have been strung out on aggression for days without actually having been in a fight, then they get a chance to use their nice big tank ... I'd say this is probably pretty normal behaviour for the army, it just got filmed this time.
posted by carter at 6:08 PM on April 25, 2004


4 Iraqi men and 1 child just joined a terrorist organization
posted by omidius at 6:15 PM on April 25, 2004


Remember to support the troops unconditionally. They're not hired killers, they're American heroes.
posted by Hildago at 6:20 PM on April 25, 2004


What the goddamn motherfucking fuck?

Seriously.
posted by ajpresto at 6:22 PM on April 25, 2004


I hate this country.

Ever since the war began, that has kinda become my catch-phrase for just about any issue at the forefront of politics (Iraq, same-sex marriage, etc.).

It's always been cool to hate politicians, but now I have to include my own countrymen in my distaste. Woe is me.

This is what you get, Larry, WHEN YOU FUCK A STRANGER IN THE ASS!
posted by bitpart at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2004


Obvious injustice aside, please note:
- The gratuitous waste of bullets. (What the heck? Does that make them feel cool or something?)
- The would-be-stolen wood being crushed along with the car. (Because destroying the property will certainly evidence why stealing it was wrong.)
- The car horn going off as the tank backs up. (That last one is just interesting.)
posted by rafter at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2004


They loop this video for the LGF Christmas party.
posted by the fire you left me at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2004


Yeah I'm not gonna judge the soldiers, really. According to all my friends that have served, the majority of the grunts are uh... pretty, well, stupid. And they're just not trained to deal with policing. Someone said GO STOP THE LOOTING, handed them keys to a tank, and sent 'em out.

You do the best you can with what you've got.
posted by kavasa at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2004


Not only was it inappropriate, but it was a misquote as well.

And I would like to pass on a comment from my friend upon viewing the video:

"That makes me think the US Army is no better than any kind of wandering warlord."
posted by bitpart at 6:40 PM on April 25, 2004


LOL ColdChef!

So is it fake or not??? Like quonsar is insuinuating.

Debate over this incident is fairly useless until we determine this.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:48 PM on April 25, 2004


Fake? Why on earth would Frontline stage an incident? They're highly regarded as a documentary news program with 20+ years of programming. We can talk about the basics of bias in photographers and filmmakers and maybe their viewpoint helps them position the camera sometimes, but they wouldn't do something as brain-dead as staging an entire incident just because it looked good on camera for a cause.
posted by mathowie at 6:52 PM on April 25, 2004


Is he the guy who talked about "rock storms" and "wild animals falling from the sky"?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:53 PM on April 25, 2004


Awful awful footage. Not nice to watch at all.

But a few things strike me.

First, that video seems very odd, like carter and quonsar said. That's a horrible attitude for soldiers to take, but it's probably atypical, and smelled a little overdone for the cameras.

Second, they didn't kill anyone. It could have been a lot worse. I'm not sure what the "hired killers" comment was about.

Third, without searching through the threads here, a lot of the complaints about the occupation have been regarding the lack of foresight in preventing looting once the army was in charge, a complaint I share. But how do you propose stopping looting in a war zone? Would it have been better if those people were thrown in jail for a few years? Beaten up? Shot? Again, the attitude of the soldiers on camera was poor, but the action was taken to stop a major problem in Iraq, and it was non-lethal.

Fourth, without knowing the context behind this video, it's impossible to judge whether or not the action was justified. Where was it taken? Was it commonly known in the area that looting was unacceptable? Were warnings given? What were the soldiers' orders? Was the soldier that spoke the CO? Did he speak for the army?

We need to know more about this before it's automatically condemned.
posted by loquax at 6:53 PM on April 25, 2004


Two strikes.

That last one belonged in the Joe Frank thread... and Matt, thanks for clearing that up for this dumb Aussie.

Not fake.

Carry on then.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:56 PM on April 25, 2004


I dunno. This looks pretty lame. A $10000 dollar car for $50 of wood. They took away his lively hood, but what happens when he steals enough wood to feed his family and find a new way to make a living.

Now the Taliban, they know how to mete out justice.
...Oh, wait...
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:57 PM on April 25, 2004


Fourth, without knowing the context behind this video, it's impossible to judge whether or not the action was justified. Where was it taken? Was it commonly known in the area that looting was unacceptable? Were warnings given? What were the soldiers' orders? Was the soldier that spoke the CO? Did he speak for the army?

And which one of these lame excuses would have justified their actions?
posted by eyeballkid at 6:59 PM on April 25, 2004


Am I the only asshole who was reminded of "Grand Theft Auto" here?
posted by ColdChef at 7:04 PM on April 25, 2004


And which one of these lame excuses would have justified their actions?

It's not the excuses, it's the rule of law. Was this just a random act by power tripping teenagers or was it made known that the repercussions for looting of any kind would be swift and severe and handed out equally. If the latter is the case, then the issue is not with this video and the actions depicted, but with the policy in place by the US army, and that becomes a different question. We then need to ask all of the questions I asked in order to determine what the situation was at the time and place the video was shot. What if these looters were stealing that wood from a poor family that couldn't defend it? What if they killed that family and took their wood?
posted by loquax at 7:05 PM on April 25, 2004


And you wonder why they're trying to kill you. Assholes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:06 PM on April 25, 2004


I'm not sure what the "hired killers" comment was about


Ahh. Let me explain. Soldiers kill people, or help others kill people. For money. By definition. A brutal but wholly undeniable act of warfare.

That is not to say that they are constantly, 24 hours a day, killing people. Perhaps that was the point of confusion.
posted by Hildago at 7:10 PM on April 25, 2004


Wait, I don't want to create another opportunity for feigned confusion by allowing a loophole to go unclosed. I should say that our soldiers, currently, and professional soldiers by definition, kill or aid in the killing of others, in exchange for money.
posted by Hildago at 7:12 PM on April 25, 2004


If it was staged, who's staging? Maybe the soldiers just wanted some on-screen action; maybe they didn't have an embed with them, but then they ran across the Frontline people, and thought they'd give them something to film. Maybe the Frontline people egged them on. But I think it's a secondary argument. They shouldn't have done it; it was swaggering, arrogant, aggressive, pathetic bullying.
posted by carter at 7:13 PM on April 25, 2004


Well sure, Hildago, but nobody killed anyone in the video I watched, for money or otherwise. That's what I thought we were talking about in here.
posted by loquax at 7:13 PM on April 25, 2004


This thread is going nowhere good.
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on April 25, 2004


What if these looters were stealing that wood from a poor family that couldn't defend it? What if they killed that family and took their wood?

Neither the soldiers nor the narrator seemed to know anything other than the fact that they were simply looting. If the soldiers had known that they had killed anyone to get that wood, I'm sure their "power tripping" would have got the best of them, and more serious repercussions would have been dealt.

That said, using a tank(!) as recklessly as they did says something about those soldiers*. I either assume that they were lucky or that there was no gas in that taxi.

*I won't imply all soldiers, but it's still unsettling knowing that those soldiers in particular are on patrol.
posted by bitpart at 7:18 PM on April 25, 2004


I think that in general these situations are what happens when you place 19-year olds in a hostile, chaotic place and give them powerful weapons.

Not that it excuses anything, but just trying to provide context to screen out the rationalizations from one side and the moral-judgements-from-the-couch on the other.
posted by jonmc at 7:22 PM on April 25, 2004


It's also worth noting that when people use the term "looting" I typically think "people stealing valuable stuff". Seeing the wood on the car, it just looks like scraps. Now, I'm sure resources are a lot harder to come by in Iraq, but is taking scraps of some wood akin to looting?

The 7-10 year old kids in my neighborhood regularly "loot" the houses being built nearby for small scraps used for makeshift bike jumps. But I think smashing their bikes would be taking things too far.
posted by mathowie at 7:27 PM on April 25, 2004


That's what you get when you loot.
posted by pemulis at 7:29 PM on April 25, 2004


um, when i used the word staged, i wasn't thinking faked, as in didn't really happen or playacted. i was thinking more along the lines of "played for maximum dramatic effect" - they either had two cams, or that tank paused for a sec while the cam was moved. and that sassy head-cocked looking-up cam angle on a subject who is stabbing a finger at the lens is pure hip-hop video.
posted by quonsar at 7:31 PM on April 25, 2004


Multi-million dollar tank used so some redneck army boys can pretend to be at a monster truck show.

God bless the USA.

Coldchef: I'm not entirely convinced the soldiers weren't thinking GTA as well.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:31 PM on April 25, 2004


No, but smashing their bikes with a giant army tank would have been cool. You gotta admit that.

Here's what I'm wondering after seeing this:
Has anybody - congressional committee, journalist, anybody - ever investigated the U.S. military's policies of warfare? Is such a thing even within acceptable investigative bounds? I can complain to my congressman when a civilian agency does something that I don't like, but who do I talk to when teenagers with guns are staging monster truck rallies in Iraq without any supervision? Is anyone answerable to this kind of stuff?
posted by PrinceValium at 7:35 PM on April 25, 2004


Dumb. What if there'd been a bomb in that car?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:40 PM on April 25, 2004


Quonsar, your dissection of the video is reasonable, but really, at the end of the day that is pretty fucked up.

Why are US troops shooting up cars and then rolling over them in tanks. Really now? I mean, you can argue that the troops aren't trained to be policemen, but who walks around thinking that was a reasonable course of action.

Well I guess people who join the army.
posted by chunking express at 7:41 PM on April 25, 2004


We have a Republican president in office, you'd think they would've taught the soldiers some cost-benefit analysis stuff. Price of wood = $20, Cost of pissed of Iraqi telling everyone what happened and them all not helping with the rebuilding of the country or worse = ? I don't mean to make it sound like a Mastercard commercial, but I really hope that's some fine quality wood they had there.
posted by graventy at 7:41 PM on April 25, 2004


Re: Everyone who said "Army personnel are not exactly trained as policemen"

Given your logic, you wouldn't think it was wrong since you aren't trained as a policeman either.
posted by nanothan at 7:42 PM on April 25, 2004


Remember everyone, the inexcusable actions of six people should be taken as representative of 125,000 others.
posted by Cyrano at 7:49 PM on April 25, 2004


First of all, I think "closed minded" when people see something like this and say they hate their country. If the reasons behind this idealism need further explanation, think about it to yourself. Heres a hint: Apples to oranges.

Second of all, this was inapproproate at best and destructive at worst, damaging our image that we civilians want to display. The military personnel who did this are in a place they do not want to be, being told of bombings happening all around them, and being kept in country although they expected to go home months ago. This video is form of representation of that fact assuming it was not staged.

Is littering illegal too? Did they chain that car to the back of their tank and drive it to the dump yard?
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:51 PM on April 25, 2004


I wonder what would have happened if those soldiers caught Tony Rocky Horror giving a foot massage...
posted by stifford at 7:51 PM on April 25, 2004


"this was inapproproate at best and destructive at worst"

Are you being funny? It was destructive period, full-stop. They drove over the dudes car. He can't drive that car no more. That's pretty destructive I would say.

Are all the soldiers like that? Probably not. I wonder how many are. Probably a few. Enough to make you hate your country? Maybe not. But I'd be embarrassed at the very least. The soldiers living in Iraw now are how the Iraqi's are going to remember the US, chances are.
posted by chunking express at 8:03 PM on April 25, 2004


Goddammit, if Iraqis can just have wood whenever they like, how is Pfizer going to get their share of the profiteering?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:18 PM on April 25, 2004


Let's not condemn the entire armed forces by the action of an idiotic few. That would be like judging the Muslim religion based on a few radicals.

Multi-million dollar tank used so some redneck army boys can pretend to be at a monster truck show.

red·neck
n. Offensive Slang

1. Used as a disparaging term for a member of the white rural laboring class, especially in the southern United States.

2. A white person regarded as having a provincial, conservative, often bigoted attitude.

Hm. Neither one of those guys struck me as a "redneck". I'm guessing you just use this term for any person that does something idiotic?

I agree with jonmc. Nothing good, discussion or otherwise, could come from this thread.
posted by justgary at 8:21 PM on April 25, 2004


crash wins again.
posted by David Dark at 8:21 PM on April 25, 2004


aww sh*t.

i caught this one when it aired a few months ago.. and thought what a mess the coming months were going to be if this was the us approach on the ground ...
posted by specialk420 at 8:25 PM on April 25, 2004


I started wondering when "Bad boys / Bad boys / Whatchya gonna do" would start playing in the background.

Has anyone contacted Fox about this as a new reality television concept? Low hanging fruit, boys. Low hanging fruit.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:26 PM on April 25, 2004


These men where on camera - who are they? Have they been disciplined? Has Frontline followed up on this? Has any action been taken at all?
posted by tirade at 8:38 PM on April 25, 2004


Well, I was gonna say that the shooting was to pre-shatter the glass so that it wouldn't burst out unpredictably into the surrounds, but, uh, they didn't look too concerned about where the actual bullets were going.
posted by NortonDC at 8:38 PM on April 25, 2004


Um isn't there an Iraqi police force now that they could have turned the looters over to?
posted by whirlwind29 at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2004


Let's not condemn the entire armed forces by the action of an idiotic few. That would be like judging the Muslim religion based on a few radicals.

Try telling that to the Iraqi insurgents. It's not so much what we think about the actions of a "an idiotic few" in Iraq. It's what the Iraqis think.

And I'm willing to bet that this isn't an isolated incident.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:45 PM on April 25, 2004


You know what really kills me? Think about how hard it must have been for that family to get that car. There are people in this country that don't own cars. Lots. But in Iraq? That's a combined life's savings of several family members. That car was food on their table.

Effectively, those soldiers have now created a situation where that group of Iraqi's will now have to loot just to survive. Great. Fucking. Job.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:53 PM on April 25, 2004


As an American, I'm sick to my stomach.
posted by rks404 at 8:56 PM on April 25, 2004


A bunch of kids playing macho, right into the hands of the media who made sure to portray this as dramatically as possible.

Stupid and reprehensible on the soldiers' part? Certainly. But I wish that as much attention was devoted to the good deeds performed by the American troops. Many Iraqi blogs suggest that there are plenty of such instances, but why is it that I never hear about them from the mainstream media?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:14 PM on April 25, 2004


I think it WAS staged (fake). Everyone in that video got paid.

Coldchef: I'm not entirely convinced the soldiers weren't thinking GTA as well.

But... but, videos games don't have an effect on people like that. The fine folks at MetaFilter told me so. {sarcasm}
posted by Witty at 9:18 PM on April 25, 2004


The clip in its original context:
Frontline -- it's at 7:00 minutes inside the prologue, watching the 30 seconds or so leading up to it provides a touch more to the story.

Sure witty, Frontline made it all up.
posted by malphigian at 9:19 PM on April 25, 2004


OK. I'm a little late on the thread here matt, but that is an extremely disturbing piece of video. Nice, if reprehensible, find.
posted by moonbird at 9:20 PM on April 25, 2004




Nothing wrong with having a cynical mind, malphigian.

What tirade said!

These men where on camera - who are they? Have they been disciplined? Has Frontline followed up on this? Has any action been taken at all?

Especially considering that some Mefites claim this is an old clip.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:37 PM on April 25, 2004


This is what happens when you give kids guns and a "sub-class of humans" (as I'm the pro-war people see them, at least the ones I've talked to) to treat like total and utter pieces of shit.

Yes, someone mentioned GTA. They are living it all thanks to Bush and our cowardly media that couldn't investiage a debunked claim to save their lives. Think Powell at the UN with the "poison factory" and "Yellow Cake" myths.

I'm not angry at these children, though I am sure this is conduct unbecoming. I am angry at Bush and his GOP enablers for allowing this war of lies.

This is why war should always be the last course of action, not the first.
posted by skallas at 9:41 PM on April 25, 2004


Witty: Your being witty about the video game violence, right? If not, this calls for another thread altogether (That has been discussed multiple times).
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:42 PM on April 25, 2004


This is why war should always be the last course of action, not the first.

Well see, some people think this war WAS the last course of action, while you obviously see it as the first. It just depends on where you want to start the timeline I guess.

Keyser Soze - Yes, I was. But I didn't bring it up, just further commented on it. I know it's been "discussed" many times. I was in the minority of the debate as well.

(That has been discussed multiple times).

Multiple times, Schmultiple times. It's never stopped us before. :) But I'm certainly not trying to have that conversation (video game violence) here.
posted by Witty at 9:55 PM on April 25, 2004


But I wish that as much attention was devoted to the good deeds performed by the American troops. Many Iraqi blogs suggest that there are plenty of such instances, but why is it that I never hear about them from the mainstream media?

This is like saying "why is the nightly news always so negative? why can't there be stories about good things every night instead of murder, embezzlement, and terrible crashes?"

Here's my take: I assume people are generally good and doing their best at their jobs. I think it's ok to point out the few bad eggs and bad situations as I assume this is an isolated bad incident and not the norm (sorry if that wasn't clear when I posted it). This video doesn't make me say "the military are all morons" or "I hate america" but it does make me think "these specific guys in this situation handled it very poorly and I'm shocked by it."
posted by mathowie at 10:07 PM on April 25, 2004


April 2003: Not enough being done to stop looting in Iraq.

April 2004: Too much being done to stop looting in Iraq.
posted by dhartung at 10:09 PM on April 25, 2004


I for one welcome our car crushing overlords.
posted by iamck at 10:28 PM on April 25, 2004


Thank you dhartung, it's easy for all of these armchair commentators to say what should and shouldn't be done, but you have a bunch of kids out there in a wild situation with a ton of pressure on them from above to stop the looting (the same side that is pissed off about this video)...

I'm not saying this was the appropriate response but what would have been the right one? Giving them a stern talking to? Haha right. Throwing them in jail? Their were nofunctional jails when this was happening. I would have shot out their tires and windows, it makes a lesson out of them, but isn't as brutal as this.

And to all of you who are saying this was making the Iraqis pissed off at us, these people are looters! Do you think the other Iraqis feel remorse for looters? The other Iraqis where the ones getting stolen from...

Never before have a I seen such a damned if you do, damned if you don't attitude...
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 10:54 PM on April 25, 2004


>these people are looters!

Its wood, man. Not treasure. For all we know they were going to fix up a fucking house. Then taking away the guy's livelihood was completely unacceptable. Yes, you just "zinged" the "left" pretty good there.
posted by skallas at 11:00 PM on April 25, 2004


April 2003: Not enough being done to stop looting in Iraq.

April 2004: Too much being done to stop looting in Iraq.


April 2005 : Martial law imposed to stop looting in US cities.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:27 PM on April 25, 2004


Now THAT'S a great way to destroy a taxi.
posted by attackthetaxi at 11:40 PM on April 25, 2004


So when some moron straps explosives on himself and kills a few Americans we need to make sure we don;t judge anyone else by his actions, that woudl be wrong.

When a few soldiers do something stupid it is obviously indicative the the entire military, our foriegn policy and our morality as a nation.

Blaming the US, its always the right decision!
posted by soulhuntre at 11:58 PM on April 25, 2004


Well on the one hand, you can judge people by the company they keep. In soulhuntre's example, the moron with the explosives is part of an 'army', and yes, I do think you can judge something of the character of the army by his actions. It's a logical fallacy to compare the moron with explosives who has no uniform but is clearly part of a group with the rest of his nation, just as it is to compare these soldiers to the average US citizen. Judging the entire army by the actions of a few is not fair either, but it is important to note that this did happen, and was allowed to happen.

As for dhartung, I think people were right both times. It was wrong not to stop the looting with a proper amount of force, and it is wrong to overreact. Do you really not see that?
posted by cell divide at 12:11 AM on April 26, 2004


skallas: right here in Florida the legislature just passed a law that lets the state take your car and sell it if you get cited for drag racing. Drag racing. These guys are real criminals in the middle of a war zone.

Here's a stepladder, please get off the high horse.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:18 AM on April 26, 2004



skallas: right here in Florida the legislature just passed a law that lets the state take your car and sell it if you get cited for drag racing. Drag racing. These guys are real criminals in the middle of a war zone.


And where's the part where they crush it for stealing wood? When they impound your car, I assume there's a method of getting it out of the impound lot?

You can keep your stepladder. You're going to need it.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:34 AM on April 26, 2004


These guys are real criminals in the middle of a war zone.

These guys are citizens in a country we invaded.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:36 AM on April 26, 2004


Who said they were looting anyway? Was there enough communication between the soldiers and the Iraqis in question to even know what was happening?

Its so simple to say "Don't loot!", without looking at what was looted, from where, for what purpose. Scarps to patch up holes in homes? Maybe scraps from someone's aunt's 2nd cousin's scrap heap? A bit of wood to make a fire because the gas is out?

As for whom and what to blame for the over reaction, in Los Angeles, they will confiscate someone's car for daring to buy a little cannabis from a drive-up vender, so the cops can sell the car to buy more cop-stuff (without benefit of judicial oversight). So it isn't really fair to blame the soldiers for over-reaction. Its just American-style justice--At least, the New America we've enjoyed for the last couple decades.

It would have been SO EASY and relatively CHEAP to have made the Iraqis glad to see us. We could have acted like the welfare of the Iraqis was REALLY a big concern and help them first. Show-up with medical supplies for their hospitals and equipment/supplies to get their water supplies back in order. And then STILL protected the precious oil wells.

Yet Rumsfield is still allowed to remain at his post. Why? Is it because the bogus potus lacks the cahones to boot Rummy? Or is it the lack of brains and compassion to understand?

The American people are going to pay for this war a LONG time and in many ways. I think we should start 'paying' by shipping some of those fine cabinet bastards off to the Hague--Or just hanging them along the Mall. And I'm dead serious.
posted by Goofyy at 12:42 AM on April 26, 2004


*rereads quote, sighs*

never mind
posted by eyeballkid at 12:42 AM on April 26, 2004


I'm just not going to bother, the disconnect from the realities of life are so bad here I feel like I have just walked into a kindergarten class. Let's all just hold hands and sing kumbaya, and it will all be better.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 12:58 AM on April 26, 2004


I know I said I wasn't going to bother but I can't help it.

These guys are citizens in a country we invaded.

No eyeballkid, they weren't "These guys" were chattels of a mass murdering tyrant
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 1:04 AM on April 26, 2004


You're right, you shouldn't have bothered.
posted by attackthetaxi at 1:11 AM on April 26, 2004


Good one attackthetaxi, you win...
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 1:49 AM on April 26, 2004


I think the soldiers must have just rented Buffalo soldiers (film includes scene of whacked out US soldiers driving over a car in their tank for those who haven't seen it. Kind of ruins it having to explain the scene, but doesn't make much sense in less I do).

There are people in this country that don't own cars. Lots. But in Iraq? That's a combined life's savings of several family members. That car was food on their table.


Really? Is that right? I thought Iraq had, at least for the region, a fairly high standard of living. They certainly had plenty of cars driving round Bagdahd on the news. I'm not dismissing your claim (or apologising for the terrible act on the video), just think the idea that Iraq was some backwards nation may be incorrect (of course, it is now, we saw to that)

And I think you'll find wood counts as WMD, so those soldiers were just doing their job.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:59 AM on April 26, 2004


No eyeballkid, they weren't "These guys" were chattels of a mass murdering tyrant

What about these chattels of a mass murdering tyrant? And we know they've got nukes.

Quick, jump in the tank, we've got more ass to kick / liberate.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:03 AM on April 26, 2004


That's part of the problem ciderwoman, we do know they have nukes, it ties our hands in many ways, that's why it's vital to take care of the problem before it is too late.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 2:16 AM on April 26, 2004


I quite agree with you about NK, I just don't believe the situation in Iraq was so near becoming "too late" that we had to act.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:50 AM on April 26, 2004


Actually, ignore that. It's derailing, has been covered before and I'm just feeling cranky.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:12 AM on April 26, 2004


"but why is it that I never hear about them from the mainstream media?"

because there's a terrible liberal media conspiracy going on to undermine the Liberation! liberals like General Electric and Disney just sic their powerful media against America!
and it isn't even true that all those GI's are being killed in Iraq! it's all smoke and mirrors! all is going well.
____
this is why US liberals should be really, really worried every time there's an election approaching -- the right-wing is completely badass, they'll never give in an inch (think the Florida recount, the staged riots), never, no matter what kind of footage you show them. "we need more evidence", "it's the media's fault".
even if the Americans were roasting the Iraqi kid on a spit, right-wingers would have find some kind of excuse, like that the soldiers were hungry and they need protein in order to make Iraq secure for the Liberation.
we saw it yesterday in the My Lai thread. there's people still approving that unthinkable civilian slaughter, so what can you do.


"April 2003: Not enough being done to stop looting in Iraq.
April 2004: Too much being done to stop looting in Iraq."

I clearly remember MeFi's liberal cabal suggesting Americans destroy people's cars to punish them for a small theft of wood scraps. I clearly remember that.
you know, damn nay-sayers are never happy with America. they haven't figure out that it's always the Muslims' fault.
;)
posted by matteo at 3:53 AM on April 26, 2004


Matteo, is there anything useful in your rant there? I guess this place is a message board.

I cannot wait to see the video. Whatta they do, run over the car? Frontline is a good program but they too have an agenda, like everyone i suppose. here is a good take on OBL father death in TEXAS from a plane crash and how they did not even do some basic Journalism 101. Like this site for instance.


The death "revived some speculation that he might have been 'eliminated,' " PBS reported, adding that an accident report was "never divulged."
posted by clavdivs at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2004


I'm not sure I understand this. This video was pretty obviously staged. What's the deal?
posted by oissubke at 8:48 AM on April 26, 2004


Well, at least it was for looting.

Here in the US, they take your car for FAR LESS. Like solicitation of prostitution, or drug possession.

Where is the outrage?
posted by eas98 at 9:16 AM on April 26, 2004


eas98, they impound your car. They don't crush it with a tank after shooting it up. Seriously, how do you not find not find the video objectionable? That isn't what normal people do.

It is stuff like this that makes people want to blow shit up. You know, buy some guys and start shooting at their 'liberators'.
posted by chunking express at 9:49 AM on April 26, 2004


Damn. After reading your comment again, I fear it reeks of sarcasm. What a food I am. No more from me in this thread.
posted by chunking express at 9:50 AM on April 26, 2004


I'm not sure if it was sarcasm or not chunking express but like I said slightly earlier they just passed a law here in Florida that allows them to take and sell your car (not impound it) if you get cited for drag racing. So if the soldiers had just taken the keys and drove away with it instead of crushing it, it would have been very similar to what the state does here.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 10:14 AM on April 26, 2004


It's not quite like the 60's in Chicago.

"In my opinion, policemen should have had instructions to shoot arsonists and looters—arsonists to kill and looters to maim and detain."
-Major Richard J. Daley
posted by john at 10:48 AM on April 26, 2004


I'm not so clear how this kinda stuff helps prevent terrorist attacks or gets rid of Al-Queda.

I mean, we are in Iraq to protect America right?

Can someone clear this up for me?
posted by Argyle at 10:50 AM on April 26, 2004


I would have shot out their tires and windows, it makes a lesson out of them, but isn't as brutal as this.

why?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:52 AM on April 26, 2004


Some of the comments above seem to have been made by traumatized ectomorphs who have been seriously bullied in their infancy and teenage years and now try to exorcise those experiences by belittling the actions of authority figures. Never mind that the scene has been taken completely out of context. Never mind that it looks strangely artificial. Never mind that justice and punishment codes are different during wartime. Never mind that the video clearly does not represent the actions of the Army in Iraq.
For these people, any subjective, biased snippet is a realistic picture of the everyday activities of the imperial Coalition of the Willing towards the peace-loving, civilized folk of Iraq.

I also wonder if y2karl or one of the other boys from the Stalin squad will start a MeTa thread regarding the racist comments about "redneck army boys".

The 7-10 year old kids in my neighborhood regularly "loot" the houses being built nearby for small scraps used for makeshift bike jumps. But I think smashing their bikes would be taking things too far.

Well guess what mathowie: these are not privileged white kids playing in their neighborhood. This is a war, the kind of reality middle class bloggers are not likely to know. Your simplistic logic does not apply in wartime Iraq. If you want, next december I'll suggest that we all chip in and buy you tickets to Baghdad so that you can you present your concept of justice in loco.
posted by 111 at 11:29 AM on April 26, 2004


111,

If the simplisitic logic doesn't make sense, please explain the complex logic where this does make sense.

What is the benefit of smashing a car with a tank to American citizens? Be sure to include why the shooting of the car with handguns was necessary as well.
posted by Argyle at 11:51 AM on April 26, 2004


111, would not the last paragraph of your previous post -- directed at mathowie -- apply to you as well? Or are you posting from Bagdhad?
posted by purplemonkie at 11:57 AM on April 26, 2004


Argyle, the shooting has been partially explained above. About the car's destruction, think of it as a lesson. It was harsh, but what did you expect? This is a country without law, without institutions and with little if any any of sense of self-restraint and honesty. These soldiers are dealing every single day with bombings, fanaticism, squalor, scorching heat, camel spiders and whatnot. They deserve at least the same levels of tolerance some people grant to rock throwing palestinians, for instance.
posted by 111 at 12:07 PM on April 26, 2004


purplemonkey, no it wouldn't. First of all, judging from his naive reaction, I'd say Matt does not know much about wars other than those fought in MetaTalk by passive-aggressive milquetoasts hiding behind their i-Macs. Second, yes, I do think I know more about daily life in areas of conflict than he does. Finally, I'm not affecting any kind of righteous shock towards the kind of treatment the looters got. Under those circumstances, I believe they deserved it, and I think that, all things considered, the troops in Iraq are doing a great, heroic job.
posted by 111 at 12:30 PM on April 26, 2004


111: It was harsh, but what did you expect?

I expect trained soldiers of the US military to refrain from committing completely unnecessary acts of destruction. You still have not explained why I as an American citizen should feel safer knowing that this dude's car has been smashed by a tank.

I too know something about what the soldiers over there are going through. I've heard stories first-hand from my brother and others in his company, who've already done one stint in Iraq and will be heading back much too soon. Although I've been against this war from the start, I've been nothing but supportive of the soldiers themselves; they signed up for a job many are unwilling to do and in most cases are doing their best to make good on their commitment. However, my support does not extend to acts such as this one, which I feel serve only to increase the bombings and fanatacism of which you speak. I don't understand how you can be in favor of behavior that is likely to generate even more hatred for our troops for no good reason.
posted by purplemonkie at 12:49 PM on April 26, 2004


111, you manage to say a lot of stupid stuff. Really now, smashing the car was a warranted course of action? My ass. That was stupid. Plain and Simple. They stole wood. They stole wood in Iraq. Yes, this makes it different then stealing wood in the US, because Iraq has a foreign army running things. Does it make it right to crush their car with a tank?

You are too quick to use the word hero. Blowing shit up in Iraq doesn't make you a hero. I'm sure there are some heroic soldiers in Iraq. I really doubt every single soldier in Iraq a hero.

Also, buy yourself an iMac. You may enjoy using your computer more.
posted by chunking express at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2004


This is a country without law, without institutions

...and the US stepped into provide these services, it is their responsibility. Why are you so against taking responsibility? These men are professionals and are being paid to act professionally. Many looters were stopped without resorting to these tactics, anyone who says this was handled in the best way possible is lying to themselves or making excuses. And if there's one thing I can't stand it's people who make excuses (It's the fault of the spiders and the heat! waaah waaah waaah) and don't take responsibility.

This is not a situation for whining babies to complain about spiders. It's a place for men to take responsibilty and deliver on their promises. People like you, 111, are against everything this country stands for which is taking responsibility for ones actions and to stand up for what is right. Too many Americans are willing to blame everyone but themselves for problems, it's probably one of the biggest problem we have, damn whiners who talk about 'tolerance' and other politically correct bull crap. In the army there is no 'tolerance' granted when you fuck up, and there shouldn't be any whining message board civilians defending something that doesn't help the cause.

I do agree with you that over all the troops in Iraq are doing a good job with a situation that was FUBARed from the start because of poor planning from the top. But to let people off the hook for anything that isn't up to our standard is just pathetic whining. That's how people lose, not win.
posted by chaz at 1:04 PM on April 26, 2004


What's all the fuss? That was just an out-take from Reno 911, right?
posted by ae4rv at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2004


Under those circumstances, I believe they deserved it, and I think that, all things considered, the troops in Iraq are doing a great, heroic job.

Describe for me an ethical system, please--briefly, in just a few strokes, if you don't have much time--where this sort of action is right. The only one I can think of is an absence of law, where might makes right. Is this your position?

It's interesting that, simply because they hold the opinion that the war in Iraq is beneficial, certain people seem to feel they are tied to defending this completely reprehensible action. As though to admit that it was wrong and unjust to destroy the man's car (and to some degree his livelihood) for stealing some wood meant that they were giving up their position on the war over all. I assure you this isn't the case: you can say that the war is a good thing, but still admit that the guys on this tape are assholes. It's not inconsistent.

Arguing that this is a perfectly reasonable action, however, makes you (speaking in general, not specifically to you) look like an idiot. Clearly, it's not perfectly reasonable. It's draconian, authoritarian, arbitrary and cruel. It makes our country look bad, because, like it or not, these "19-year olds" are representing us to the world, and the very fact that they were on camera ought to have tipped them of to this fact, if they didn't know it already.
posted by Hildago at 2:46 PM on April 26, 2004


This is not a situation for whining babies to complain about spiders.

Sure, it is clearly a situation for manly Internet users to lecture soldiers on good manners and the best way to deal with looters and assorted mobs. While you're at it, why not send the troops tips on gardening and interior decorating and then ground them for their naughty misbehaving?

Describe for me an ethical system, please--briefly, in just a few strokes, if you don't have much time--where this sort of action is right.

Violence in Iraq is all around. There is no moral, cultural or institutional basis on which to build a system of adequate penalties for crimes against property. In such a system, you want to teach lessons that will be promptly and appropriately learned. Remember, those are not citizens from Switzerland. These are muslims that have spent two decades under the totalitarian Hussein regime-- whose own idea of punishment usually involved measures that would make destroying a car look like a slap in the hand.
Soldiers on the battlefield (and don't tell me they're on a mere peacekeeping mission there) live under continuous pressure and have to make tough decisions based on their daily experiences, always taking into account the overarching goals of their mission. What happened to those looters must be seen within the real context of the Iraq war, namely a battle against violence and unbridled anarchy.
posted by 111 at 4:31 PM on April 26, 2004


Huh?

Hell, I enjoy hyperbole as much as the next person, but seriously...
posted by FormlessOne at 4:39 PM on April 26, 2004


111, a few days ago you were defending the use of a child as a human shield, and today you're defending the destruction of a family's car in response to the looting of what appears to be a little broken table. what do you know about morals?

also, can you tell me some more about the stalin squad?
posted by mcsweetie at 4:44 PM on April 26, 2004


mcsweetie, although I`m not sure I`d object to using people like you as a human shield (after all, you do want to protect the poor, harmless palestinians, don`t you? You certainly wouldn`t mind practicing what you preach), I believe saying I "defended the use of a child as a human shield" on a previous FPP is perhaps not quite accurate-- although lying and distorting the truth is something you people from the left do so often you probably can`t even notice, like mental patients with compulsive habits and nervous tics. At any rate, the thread in question may be found here, where you`ll read me stating that tying a person to a car "sounds wrong but also useless, as palestinian terrorists have no respect for any kind of human life" et cetera.

Now you people are desperately trying to turn any minor incident in the Middle East into a new Mi Lai. All the while you leftists, being sectarian cowards, ignore the atrocities committed daily by some barbaric locals against the civilian populations. More than ever, I applaud the Coalition soldiers for acting with the firmness such chaotic situations require. Mcsweetie, I`m glad I`m not on your side.
posted by 111 at 6:05 PM on April 26, 2004


mcsweetie, although I`m not sure I`d object to using people like you as a human shield (after all, you do want to protect the poor, harmless palestinians, don`t you? You certainly wouldn`t mind practicing what you preach),

actually, I don't subscribe to your moral relativism. if it's in my power to protect anyone, regardless of race, I would.

Now you people are desperately trying to turn any minor incident in the Middle East into a new Mi Lai

hmm. news to me! perhaps you are desperately trying to spin a small group's outrage at the actions of an even smaller group into something more supportive of your political biases?

All the while you leftists, being sectarian cowards,

and you "rightists" are so busy spinning any and every thing into a scathing indictment of "the left" that you forget about being sentient.

ignore the atrocities committed daily by some barbaric locals against the civilian populations.

maybe you missed it/blocked it from your memory when I said this in that last thread, but I'll rephrase it again to save you the browsing: of course barbaric locals are going to commit atrocities. you can't help that. but when our boys and/or allies start acting up, it's worth noting and making a stink about because we aren't terrorists and people need to know that not all of us condone that sorta thing. the difference between the high road and the low road is in the choice of whether or not to destroy someone's car, or to tie a child to a car.

Mcsweetie, I`m glad I`m not on your side.

I'm not. I wish you could think about some of the things I say, outside of the context of, "well he's a liberal so therefore it is to be discarded and reviled immediately!"
posted by mcsweetie at 7:13 PM on April 26, 2004


even if the Americans were roasting the Iraqi kid on a spit, right-wingers would have find some kind of excuse, like that the soldiers were hungry and they need protein in order to make Iraq secure for the Liberation.

Damn, you nailed us. We eat babies.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:15 PM on April 26, 2004


...There is no moral, cultural or institutional basis on which to build a system of adequate penalties for crimes against property. In such a system, you want to teach lessons that will be promptly and appropriately learned...

Your argument fails, because by following it all you would do is reinforce the mind set that is in place. You don't fight arbitrary punishment with slightly less painful arbitrary punishment.

Rather, you put the rule of law in place, however primitive it has to be in the beginning, and then work to perfect it.

Meaning, if there is currently no adequate basis for fairly legislating property rights, then at least a temporary standard of punishment needs to be put in place before penalties can be meted out. Even if it says, "if you steal wood, your car will be crushed," that is still better than letting the troops be judge, jury et. al..

If we punish them arbitrarily, we do nothing but reinforce the idea that whoever is in power makes the rules. Actions like this protract the anarchy and sense of invasion.

What do you think of that?

although lying and distorting the truth is something you people from the left do so often you probably can`t even notice, like mental patients with compulsive habits and nervous tics.

Does it bother you that you sometimes come off as a caricature? This sentence in particular seems like it was rattled off meaninglessly.
posted by Hildago at 11:50 PM on April 26, 2004


These are muslims

Well why didn't you say so from the start, that changes everything.
posted by chaz at 9:36 AM on April 27, 2004


Staying true to your argumentative tactics, eh chaz? Did you know that if we take some of the letters in your sentence, we can spell "die USA?" And don't get me started on what we can do if we break it up into pixels.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:02 PM on April 27, 2004


So does anyone know what became of these particular soldiers? Are they back stateside, or still in Iraq? This seems like the type of behavior that woulde single them out for retaliation, and in an environment where U.S. servicemen are going down at alarming rates . . .
posted by MetalDog at 1:28 PM on April 27, 2004


Yeah, MetalDog. Too bad they used up their ammo shooting up the car. (I know, they've got lots and lots more, paid for by me and you and the rest of us).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:22 PM on April 27, 2004


In a horrifyingly similar vein to the subject of this post, 60 Minutes and the Washington Post describe sexual and other forms of abuse by the US soldiers in charge of Abu Gharib prison.
posted by Zurishaddai at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2004


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