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Trying to "out-terrorize the terrorists"
August 3, 2010 6:21 PM   Subscribe

Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story.

Previously.
posted by jjoye (30 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now three former soldiers from this unit have come forward to make the case that the incident is not a matter of a few bad-apple soldiers but rather just one example of US military protocol in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where excessive acts of violence often stem from the chain of command.

And how the heck is this even going to be addressed without Wikileaks or the equivalent?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:25 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fuck, I feel sorry for these guys. Firstly, for going through this first time, and secondly because no one is going to pay attention to this besides liberal blogs, and thirdly because somebody is going to pop into this thread and say they were goddamned baby-killers who should have known what they were getting into when they signed up.
posted by empath at 6:35 PM on August 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


All three of these former soldiers describe a general policy of, in McCord's words, trying to "out-terrorize the terrorists" in order to establish power in a neighborhood that clearly did not want US troops there.

Israeli policy. I hear it again and again: the only thing they (the Palestinians) understand is force.

Considering that Afghanistan looks increasingly like Gaza, it seems to be a success. The point is not to build a nation, but to prevent this from happening. To keep the region violent and disorganized so that no government of the people can form and the population can be kept under reasonable control.
posted by three blind mice at 6:37 PM on August 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I mean, that must be devastating, to go through that kind of personal trauma and tragedy, see it up close, to understand the horror and tragedy of war in a way hardly anyone does now, and then to be reduced to a pawn in a political football game. Because that is what will now happen to them. They won't be treated as heroes, and they won't be treated as human beings. Just the symbol-of-the-week of a tragic war that seems to never end.
posted by empath at 6:39 PM on August 3, 2010


In related news, Wikileaks has reached out to the Pentagon for help in reviewing its latest haul before release.
posted by availablelight at 6:41 PM on August 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a former soldier, I know this things don't happen without the encouragement and collusion of the chain of command.

Leadership. It is all about leadership.
posted by QIbHom at 6:45 PM on August 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Leadership. It is all about leadership.

Is it really fair to say it's ALL about leadership? As someone who is not a former soldier, I'm guessing there are other elements involved.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2010


and this***is not***the way*** to put***the end***to war...
posted by kitchenrat at 7:49 PM on August 3, 2010


Congressman Calls For Execution of Wikileaks Leaker
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on August 3, 2010



The article links to another one, Disposable Soliders, which talks about how military doctors are using diagnoses of "pre-existing personality disorders" to cheat veterans out of medical care. If you haven't read it, do.

Also I wanted to highlight the comments of the ground troops from the video, I found them very moving:
"From my experiences in Iraq, we shouldn't even be in these countries fighting wars. This is a war of aggression, of occupation. There is nothing justifiable to me about this war," says McCord. "And this isn't someone sitting back saying 'I think' or 'I believe.' This is from someone who was there."

Corcoles, now suffering from severe PTSD, says he wants the public to understand that "war kills civilians first." He says, "I think Americans...need to take responsibility. If you pay taxes, you pay for that soldier's wage. You're just as guilty as the soldier pulling the trigger."

posted by chaff at 7:53 PM on August 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


One notes that Mike Rogers has never served in the military.
posted by maxwelton at 8:27 PM on August 3, 2010


I mean, that must be devastating, to go through that kind of personal trauma and tragedy, see it up close, to understand the horror and tragedy of war in a way hardly anyone does now, and then to be reduced to a pawn in a political football game. Because that is what will now happen to them. They won't be treated as heroes, and they won't be treated as human beings. Just the symbol-of-the-week of a tragic war that seems to never end.

Eh, they're in better shape than the guys on the other end of the cannon, who probably have a better idea of all that to the extent they aren't in bits and pieces.
posted by furiousthought at 9:13 PM on August 3, 2010


When the Wikileaks video came out I watched it and immediately took my camera for a walk to record my immediate reaction for my Youtube channel. I posted that video and one of these soldiers- McCord- turned up in the comment thread.

Amazingly, these guys were turning up all over the internet to discuss the incident. While I have my reasons for having roughly zero respect for so-called 'warriors', I was very impressed that this man was making himself accountable to strangers in the online environment. I'm glad soldiers are speaking out. They must continue to do so if any sense is to be salvaged from this pointless war on imaginary bad guys.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:12 PM on August 3, 2010


While I have my reasons for having roughly zero respect for so-called 'warriors', I was very impressed that this man was making himself accountable to strangers in the online environment.

I'm pretty much a pacifist, but I have friends who have served. One of them still has his ears turned out from when his helmet was blown off his head and his back is constantly bleeding from shrapnel making it's way out. And that's the beginning of his problems. Like many people, he thought he was doing the right thing by signing up. He bought the whole line about protecting freedom and democracy, and continues to suffer every day because of it. In my opinion, he has more to answer for than an "insurgent" and certainly more than an innocent civilian, but they are all pawns in the same game.

That's something I can't say for myself. I've never been willing to put my life on the line for my values, even if it was for a cause that was ultimately flawed. What have you or I done about the Wars? Scribble on a blog somewhere? Talk about the injustice before we go fill up our tanks, commute to our jobs, and spend a day not being shot at? Even if you don't live in the United States, if you're living modern life, you are part of the problem. Our consumption of oil is the reason these wars are fought in the first place.

The only thing these people, often just kids, are guilty of is that they believed what their government told them. They believed what their parents or teacher or recruiting officer told them, and unwittingly signed up to pay more than their fair share of the cost of Western lifestyle, and it rarely pays them back. Not only do they tear up their bodies and minds only to realize later that the mission was a lie and a waste, but they have to hold their tongue when people such as yourself decide to have moral principles for the space of five minutes.

I don't know, maybe you're with the ISM and spend summers fighting for the rights of indigenous people in your own country. Maybe you work with Doctors Without Borders. But something tells me that you're not, or else you wouldn't denigrate someone else's choice to put everything on the line for what they believe in. Sometimes people make that choice and end up fighting for Hitler. And sometimes they make that choice and end up liberating Europe or their own country from dictatorship.

But I have exactly zero respect for people who don't realize that war is most often the result of an apathetic population who pay their taxes and do not participate in government. Just because you didn't sign up doesn't make you, or me, or anyone less culpable.
posted by atypicalguy at 10:56 PM on August 3, 2010 [13 favorites]


If you pay taxes, you pay for that soldier's wage. You're just as guilty as the soldier pulling the trigger.

There are two things a war needs: soldiers and money. Everybody has to pay taxes. In this country, nobody has to become a soldier.
posted by one_bean at 12:07 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now three former soldiers from this unit have come forward to make the case that the incident is not a matter of a few bad-apple soldiers but rather just one example of US military protocol in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where excessive acts of violence often stem from the chain of command. This comes at a time when the top brass in Afghanistan are speaking openly of relaxing the rules of engagement. After Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recent ouster for publicly criticizing the Obama administration, his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, has asserted that military protocol in Afghanistan should be adjusted because of "concerns" about "the application of our rules of engagement," a move that critics fear will cause civilian deaths to skyrocket.

The rules of engagement were tightened significantly in the beginning of 2009. This paragraph gives the impression that the same rules of engagement which produced these shootings, in 2007, are now being loosened even more. I'm sure the authors of this article know better.
posted by Anything at 12:10 AM on August 4, 2010


Sorry, that was probably inflammatory and missing the point. Of the people responsible for the Iraq war, all of the soldiers and most of the taxpayers of this country are comparatively guiltless. This is Bush's war, and once he was elected there was virtually nothing that could have been done to stop him.
posted by one_bean at 12:11 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The rules of engagement were tightened significantly in the beginning of 2009. This paragraph gives the impression that the same rules of engagement which produced these shootings, in 2007, are now being loosened even more. I'm sure the authors of this article know better.

I think the implication is that Petraeus was in charge of Iraq when these soldiers served; that McChrystal was responsible for the tighter rules of engagement in Afghanistan; and that Petraeus taking over in Afghanistan will return the soldiers to the more aggressive rules.
posted by one_bean at 12:13 AM on August 4, 2010


"Just because you didn't sign up doesn't make you, or me, or anyone less culpable."

That's fucking ridiculous.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:29 AM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


atypicalguy, you managed to diss some version of myself that lives only in your head. I suppose I can't be offended because you were making shit up. I think.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:32 AM on August 4, 2010


This is Bush's war, and once he was elected there was virtually nothing that could have been done to stop him.

Not true. I remember the media being his lapdog, going nuts with the fear-mongering and abandoning investigation and skepticism, joining in the Inspector Clouseau mocking of the weapons inspectors who were saying that Iraq had no WMD, etc. Politicians cowering from their duty.

Bush couldn't have done it without the US public being behind him, and they very nearly weren't. If more people had been a bit less gutless, if more people had done the job they got paid to do, earned their damn paychecks, the war would not have happened.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:43 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Gamien, it's not about dissing. But as long as we're talking about who we don't respect, I'll gladly pipe up and say any oil consumer who thinks they don't depend on middle eastern wars for their oil supply. Having a fair amount of military firepower in OPEC's backyard not only insures that they listen to the USA and NATO forces, but also deters them from causing oil shocks and disrupting the worldwide economy.

Everyone (myself included) can get all indignant about how they're above joining the military, but that facade falls apart every time we all fill up. Sort of like complaining about Chinese labor standards when we all consume Chinese manufactured goods. It's good to be aware of the problem, but there's no use in disrespecting someone else's choices in lieu of doing something meaningful about it yourself.

As a man once said, you can't be neutral on a moving train.
posted by atypicalguy at 2:13 AM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a man once said, you can't be neutral on a moving train.

Howard Zinn said that, but I'm pretty sure that even though he was one of the most strident, loud voices in the anti-Iraq/Afhgani war movement, he was alive in a modern age and drove in a car and was thus, sadly, just another part of the problem.
posted by nevercalm at 7:05 AM on August 4, 2010


I get what you're trying to say, atypicalguy, but it's too simplistic. Blaming "oil consumers" is easy pickings but misguided. We can have oil without middle east wars, and we can have wars without oil (we've had several). Now maybe big oil CEOs think a war in Iraq is good for their bottom line, and they may be right, but that's on the executives and the major shareholders, not the customers. We're just filling our tanks so we can get to work, and most of us would prefer to do it without a war going on.
Put the blame where it belongs, on the people actual making the decisions.
posted by rocket88 at 7:36 AM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have two close friends who both enlisted around the same time. The first came back after an IED threw shrapnel through his sniping eye.. his description of the sanctioned policy of retaliations following bombings and the like was somewhat horrifying. Basically, the summed up SOP was: if there were bombings in the area, there were insurgents in the area. If there were insurgents in the area, the civilians were perfectly aware of it, and therefor culpable. That meant that if a civilian wouldn't tell you what you wanted to know, they were basically an insurgent themselves, and the beatings would commence. His own specialty was apparently a rifle buttstroke that worked marvelously to displace vertebrae.

The second friend enlisted with the hope of mitigating some of the horrible behavior that had been reported on, to lead by example and show that we didn't have to be monsters in our approach. He became one of the most well respected sergeants in his division, specifically because he found ways to operate aside from beating and murdering any civilian who happened to be nearby. He came back in 2007 after an IED dropped a building on him, and was buried in Arlington.

I'm really not sure what the point of my anecdote is, other than to say how much it hurts to see that no matter how hard some good men try to change things, and give their lives trying to demonstrate a better way to be, it's pretty much all for naught. The problem isn't just people at the ground level being uncivilized towards each other... it's institutionally poisonous ways of behaviour that are mandated from the top down. There's no way to fix it from the ground. The bad apples come from a rotting tree.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:44 AM on August 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'll gladly pipe up and say any oil consumer who thinks they don't depend on middle eastern wars for their oil supply. Having a fair amount of military firepower in OPEC's backyard not only insures that they listen to the USA and NATO forces, but also deters them from causing oil shocks and disrupting the worldwide economy.

I am completely unconvinced the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan are actually doing anything to increase the US oil supply. It's been eight years – is there anything that says it has done so?

People say all wars are about controlling resources but I don't think these two are. These two wars are waged by a country which has decided to spend its spare resources on occupying distant countries, for mostly psychological reasons.
posted by furiousthought at 9:42 AM on August 4, 2010


People say all wars are about controlling resources but I don't think these two are.

Well, Iraq is (otherwise why all the duplicity about WMDs?) That doesn't mean that it was well thought-out or successful.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2010


Iraq was, is, about going out and hitting Bad Guys, with a bunch of post-hoc justifications added on, which is why all those post-hoc reasons for launching the war have not been followed through on with any great degree of success - they're incidental rationalizations. Which is what we're seeing discussed here, in this thread, at the squad level - a policy geared towards hitting the bad guys first and whatever else second or fifth or who really cares anyway.
posted by furiousthought at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2010


somebody is going to pop into this thread and say they were goddamned baby-killers who should have known what they were getting into when they signed up.


Yep. Especially considering that no babies were actually killed...
posted by c13 at 10:38 PM on August 4, 2010


U.S. Military Banned From Viewing WikiLeaks
posted by homunculus at 2:08 PM on August 5, 2010


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