Wikileaks Posts Video of U.S. Soldiers Killing Iraqi Civilians

WikiLeaks, a military "whistleblower" website has obtained and posted a video showing the 2007 attack by U.S. soldiers in in a suburb of Baghdad that killed 12 civilians, including two Reuters journalists. You can view the full unedited 39 minute version on You Tube here.

The video, released on Monday, is of high quality and appears to be authentic, the BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says. It is accompanied by a recording of the pilots' radio transmissions and those of US troops on the ground.

The video shows a street in Baghdad and a group of about eight people, whom the helicopter pilots deem to be insurgents. It then shows the individuals on the street being shot dead with the Apache's cannon. Then, a van drives onto the scene, and its occupants appear to start picking up the wounded. It, too, is fired upon. Altogether, around 12 people die. Two children appear to be injured.

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    Glenn Greenwald on the Joe Scarborough (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by bridget on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:01:00 PM EST
    radio program March 31 discussing Iran and the reporting issues he discusses in his article:

    "Reporting" on Iran should seem familiar


    My question: If anyone did hear that particular segment (I watched it just now on the net) who was the host who talked with Greenwald? I thought he was really good. I don't know this show - but it wasn't Scarborough.

    thanks goodness for Glenn Greenwald

    P.S. Thanks for posting the video, Jeralyn. Sounds v. disturbing ... I'll have to watch it another time.


    I just read Greenwald on this (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 06:51:57 AM EST
    Everyone is in bed here so I can :)  First of all, let me begin by saying that I desire for the Left to be a little more studied and accurate before they make claims of military cover up.  It sort of wrecks our credibility if it turns out not quite "like that".  Secondly in the Iraq vid, all of the liberal voices I've read miss one giant thing because they don't know how forces operate and up to this point they didn't want to know.  The one vid we all have on the Iraq incident....that isn't the only vid that was being shot that day of this specific incident when this went down. That particular gunship was not the only gunship recording either or the only other eyes on the ground.  And that particular video was not what was used to make visual determinations by the command or to make verifications of weapons and rpgs. The rpg had to be confirmed visually by the command and likely by god help us, lawyers present watching the video feeds too.  The pilots could not shoot until "they were cleared", everyone needs to make a note of that, this was not a Wild West moment nor was it only a United States Occupation moment since Iraqi Police were at the scene processing it too.  I don't know how Froomkin can't see the rpg in the vid that we get to see from the day, cuz it is right there in one shot and I don't understand why everybody I'm reading thinks that this video feed from the gunship was the only visual confirmation going on considering the radio conversations....there were several video feeds.  We don't know what happened prior to this particular feed or why the gunships were called in either.  I can tell you this though, you don't call them in for chits and giggles and they don't just get up every morning, board the aircraft, and then fly around looking for people to shoot all day.  They are specifically called in by troops on the ground and the command decides whether or not to send them.  And please notice how many troops were later on the ground once it was made clear the gunships were done, because they took cover while the gunships did their assigned task...unless of course you want to be dead because as everyone can see they will make you dead very effectively.  On Afghanistan, the whole cover up thing, I think the left anti-war is being played.  This incident has been under investigation by U.S. forces but U.S. forces were not the first forces in the door of that operation that night, Afghan forces were.  The women were tied up.  Did the Afghan forces have time to tie them up to attempt to hide something before U.S. forces and FBI came in to process the scene?  I wouldn't think likely, but I wasn't there so this is just blah blah blah.  Don't get the time spent investigating something mixed up with cover up though, and find out if our troops really pulled the triggers or if they were in the rear letting Afghans have Afghanistan and take care of Afghanistan's powerful corrupt.  But everyone can stop thinking that the Afghan troops that were the first in just did whatever the hell they wanted, made up stuff, tied women up to hide their bloodlust desire to murder everything and everyone.  We may not have video of what took place inside but the whole operation was filmed from outside and because the women were tied up it was suspected at first that they were honor killings, now it looks like bullets fired at the men who apparently had them all tied up is what hit them.  How long does it take to process this forensic stuff though people, I mean come on.  If you want to be pissed that NATO said the women were honor killings before the investigation was complete...then fine, be pissed, but that is jumping the shark not covering up.  AND IN MY OPINION THE ANTI-WAR LEFT NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT TWO "leaks" LIKE THIS THAT WERE LEAKED AT THE SAME TIME THAT THEY JUMPED ALL OVER LIKE MAD.  When all the details come out it can damage the anti-war left credibility and make us all look like a bunch of "facts not important" mad yapping windbags, who would try to marginalize the anti-war left in this fashion?  If everyone is going to scream war crime, make sure you actually have one on your hands.

    Wider symbolism of the video (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 08:49:38 AM EST
    Americans flynaround like gods- striking men down with thunder bolts. What Iraqi will even care about proceedure and process?   See this video...


    There were armed British helicopters filming this. They should wiped out the mob with their cannons.  Two of their own men were being murdered. Right?


    How can (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:22:54 AM EST
    one be the "anti-war left" but still argue that killing people in the war you're against is justified because the U.S. military who participated in the killings acted within the rules of the war you're against?

    It's incoherent.


    I know it is hard (none / 0) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:58:08 AM EST
    for some people to think that I care about other people and the debate, but I do.  It needs to be a credible debate.  Also, both of these "offenses" involved the law enforcement forces of both countries.  Neither one of these actions was solely U.S. our outside of country led.  But nobody on the left wants to wage a credible argument about any of these things, they only want to blow hard hot air rhetoric....which will accomplish nothing if they actually want to get some place in the debate.  I think I've just about completely come to understand that most of the anti-war left doesn't care about waging a credible debate or winning one though.  They just want to march around with signs acting self righteous.  They feed on the blood just as much as anyone else these days, only self righteously so.

    Whenever I read something (none / 0) (#39)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:49:55 AM EST
    like about how this stuff is Vietnam all over again I shake my head, no it isn't...not even close.  If the anti-war wants to be heard in the debate and be relevant they will really have to study war.  If a band of individuals were running around one of our neighborhoods with an rpg after there were incidents of law enforcement being fired upon in the hood, would the law enforcement of this country use deadly force upon the rpg packing?  I think we all know the answer to that one.  You know who most likely isn't insulted by anything I have to say?  Glenn Greenwald....he will fact check stuff, he will study.  If something actually does take place that is a war crime he will be there.  He will launch the real debate, everyone will cheer and link to him, then Cedwyn (whom I originally met an anti Iraq War protest) and team Orange will go try to knock his teeth down his throat for sullying dear leader :)

    This is why you menfolk die in their thousands (none / 0) (#40)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:27:29 PM EST
    In a filthy desert. Exactly this.

    I know you don't want to watch but watch. This is actually how you keep a lid on a dangerous situation. Gunships were watching this and could have stopped it but decided not to do so. Even though they could easily identify known terrorists in the surrounding mob.


    You might as well be some (none / 0) (#54)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:48:21 PM EST
    fanatic outside an abortion clinic screaming about how all life is sacred no matter who is destroyed making it so at this point with me.  You don't offer real solutions to real life problems, just fanaticism.

    It's a narrower tribal focus for Tracy (none / 0) (#35)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:58:08 AM EST
    Imagine your spouse  being tried for murder. Not that many Amrican soldiers have ever been put on trial for killing foreigners in or around a theater of war.

    It's funny that Obamas fixation on process is decried, yet the justifications for what appears to be cold blooded killing of unarmed Iraqis is all based on process. Btw a house nearby was struck with a missile killing members of four families hiding from the fighting. The whole war and everyone in it is lunatic.    


    I understand (none / 0) (#37)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:14:44 AM EST
    that there is a narrower focus.  I just fail to see how that narrow focus is effective at being the "anti-war left" or anything even approaching anything like being anti-war.

    I'm not someone who thinks that military personnel are somehow absolved from all personal responsibility for what they're doing and what they're participating in because they were ordered to go, or because when they killed somebody they followed the applicable rules of how to kill them, or because they were acting hand-in-hand with U.S.-picked and supported local forces.

    So, relatedly, it also doesn't matter much to me whether the people killed by U.S. forces were armed or unarmed.

    Here's the bottom line(s) for me:  

    If it's a justified war in Iraq, dead people are the outcome of war and oh well, even if it's innocent civilians, even if "they" end up hating "us", and the only real question is whether particular killings are ok or not ok within the rules of the particular war.

    If it's an unjustified war, I don't care why or how those people were killed or what rules were followed in killing them or whether they were armed or unarmed -- their deaths are a crime and the people who killed them committed a crime.

    It can't be both a justified and unjustified war, IMO.  And taking the position that soldiers' killings in an unjustified war are somehow justified because they followed the rules of the unjustified war is incoherent.  And that incoherency, more than anything else, renders any anti-war movement impotent and a joke.

    Was the killing of these people justified?  No.  Because we shouldn't be there.  And them carrying weapons, and lots of people on video cameras, and all sorts of "verification" and "clearances" don't make these killings justified.


    Link me the video you are watching (none / 0) (#29)
    by Faust on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:04:23 AM EST
    Where you can see the RPG. I want a link and a timestamp to go to.

    I'm not sure if it's even relivant. (none / 0) (#31)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:17:42 AM EST
    America is simply delusional. It's lunacy.

    Oh yes (none / 0) (#55)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:50:05 PM EST
    Don't watch the original unedited video at point 2:12 and 2:13.  Just believe what you are told to believe.

    This is not a pleasant video to watch. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Radix on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 03:44:45 PM EST

    The casual manner of the episode is very (none / 0) (#2)
    by dainla on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 03:54:19 PM EST
    disturbing.  It really is like they are playing a video game.

    It didn't seem casual (none / 0) (#4)
    by Emma on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 04:14:03 PM EST
    It seemed like there was this real urgency about shooting these guys.  But it was a mystery to me why it was so urgent, especially shooting the guys collecting the wounded.  There are several acknowledgements that the wounded are being collected but the sense from the radio transmissions is "They're getting away!  Shoot them!"

    But, having said that, I don't think it's an effective anti-war video.


    What goes around comes around. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Salo on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:09:23 PM EST
    I'd expect no quarter after seeing that. How they must despise us.

    Greenwald article, complicity of American media in (none / 0) (#3)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 04:13:18 PM EST
    Pentagon cover up of US troops killing civilians in Afghanistan, How Americans are propagandized about Afghanistan:
    On 02/12/10, U.S. forces entered a village in the Paktia Province in Afghanistan and, after surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, shot dead two male civilians (government officials) who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives (a pregnant mother of ten, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager).  

    The Pentagon then issued a statement claiming that (a) the dead males were "insurgents" or terrorists, (b) the bodies of the three women had been found by U.S. forces bound and gagged inside the home, and (c) suggested that the women had already been killed by the time the U.S. had arrived, likely the victim of "honor killings" by the Taliban militants killed in the attack...the Pentagon was forced yesterday to admit that their version was totally false. [snip]

    The Times of London actually reported yesterday that, at least according to Afghan investigators, "US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims' bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened."

    Regarding the killing of Iraqi civilians, today WikiLeaks released a videotape highly incriminating of the Pentagon.

    The videotape shows the gruesome killing of Iraqi civilians, including Reuters journalists, by American troops, an incident which the U.S. military insisted involved the killing of "insurgents."

    Defeating the Taliban? (none / 0) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 06:55:17 PM EST
    Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, several members of parliament said Monday.
    Lawmakers dismissed the latest comment as hyperbole, but it will add to the impression the president -- who relies on tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO forces to fight the insurgency and prop up his government -- is growing increasingly erratic and unable to exert authority without attacking his foreign backers.


    All this seems rather (none / 0) (#10)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:11:12 PM EST
    inevitable given that our troops are exhausted, being sent for successive tours of duty, some returned to duty with PTSD symptoms masked by psychotropic drugs, whose use may be questionable on young men in their late teens early 20s.  

    Truly tragic all around.


    criminal defense website? (none / 0) (#5)
    by diogenes on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 06:27:40 PM EST
    If the soldiers were defendants, then the presumption would be that the soldiers killed Iraqis on the mistaken assumption that they were insurgents but based on mistaken intelligence information.  You'd have to show some sort of intent or at least negligence on the part of the soldiers and/or intelligence providers.  I doubt that the wartime standard is "certainty" before acting; even if soldiers shoot only when the intelligence evidence is "beyond a reasonable doubt" there will be a handful of shootings that in retrospect will be of civilians rather than insurgents.      

    I watched it (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:25:18 PM EST
    It was ugly.  I didn't expect to be anything but ugly.  Innocent civilians don't carry around rpgs though and the gunships were called in after troops on the ground were fired on.  If people have rpgs though they will be immediately fired on.  We don't have any of the intel as to why or who was picking up the bodies.  They are often retrieved before evidence photos can be taken by other insurgents.  All the troops on the ground though afterwards were collecting evidence and taking photos for evidence.  According to the radio conversation Iraqi Police took the children for medical care so Iraqi Police were also part of this.

    Nothing Unusual (none / 0) (#6)
    by john horse on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 06:44:44 PM EST
    about US soldiers killing civilians.  Happens too much and too often which is why US military has had to issue so many public apologies.

    How can you miss the weapons? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Discovery on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:22:34 PM EST
    At 3:42 in the video you can see three men with rifles and shoulder straps behind the two reporters.  

    At 4:08 a man sights the helicopter with a long cylinder.  The pilot excitedly states "He's got an RPG!"  

    What else should the helicopter pilot deduce when on a combat mission, three guys are clearly armed, two have shoulder pouches, and a forth runs to the corner of a building and quilkly points a cylinder looking thing at his helicopter?

    The calmness is called professional training of great soldiers while engaged.  I hope no one records what I say when an armed group points an RPG at me.

    The real question is - why were the "neutral" reporters clearly walking with weapon carrying insurgents during The Surge?  This video exonerates the soldiers. I think we should be investigating Reuters.

    If you read the story (none / 0) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:27:30 PM EST
    We don't know that the reporters were killed in this instance.  Nobody has identified them as people that were killed in this video. All we know is that two Rueters reporters were killed in Baghdad that day too.

    There are slide comments embedded in the video (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:41:30 PM EST
    that identify the reporters.I don't know how reliable that is.

    There is a good post right after Greenwald's on Salon that puts the video in context of the military situation. There is no indication that the pilots did not really think they were firing on combatants. Nothing they did was against the military rules for the situation, even firing on the van coming for the wounded and dead.

    The issue is determining a combatant in that situation, when IMO, we should not have been there to begin with.

    Horrible tragedy like countless others.


    Here's a link to the (none / 0) (#14)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:50:17 PM EST
    Post providing context.

    Any attempt by the government to hide things or deceive only makes tragedies like this worse for everyone invalided. That has been true time and time again, yet it always seems to be the default position.


    Invalided = involved (none / 0) (#15)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:51:11 PM EST
    I have no reason to doubt that (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 10:39:15 PM EST
    the footage isn't authentic, it looks like many vids I've had going on in the background of cooking dinner while my husband was working on his class curriculum.  Not anything that people died in though, just training stuff.  If you listen to the recorded conversation though, there was an rpg retrieved from the site.  It was confirmed.  And the reason why the bodies and weapons would be removed by the people in the van is to destroy the visual evidence of why the troops fired.  It is attempted all the time.  This war is also a propaganda war as well and photos of grieving families, dead people, minus rpgs and minus being in the area where troops were being fired on means claims that innocents  were killed for nothing.  As I said before, it happens all the time and anybody attempting to remove the bodies before the troops on the ground process the scene will also be killed because they are part of the insurgency.  I'm sure they really really wanted that rpg too, because our troops really really needed it for evidence and they all know that.  The biggest tell for me about how out of character this day was compared to most daily dealings are was that the Apache gunner of the gunship vid we are watching, couldn't find the proper system to use to fire a hellfire missile.  The last time he probably used one was a fake stateside or in a simulator.  In the current Apache, all of its weapons are run by an independent system, makes it as unlikely as possible to knock everything out in one with one well placed shot....so when the pilot couldn't even find the proper system speedily to fire a hellfire? :)  I do hope that no reporters were killed in this, but if so I do have to ask what they were doing running around with dudes with an rpg?  There are also documented cases of "reporters" being "tipped off" by the insurgency on where and when to be someplace so they can get really good video of insurgents effing stuff up.  I agree that we shouldn't be there, but George Bush stripped everyone of being able to be there for any reason other than we broke this place and if we leave a huge power vacuum we wear that blood too.  There is no way out of this that doesn't involve BLOOD, the only choice we have is do what we can to make the amount of blood as small as possible and if most of it ends up on our hands, I guess we earned that karma.

    I'm sure the Iraqis understand. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Salo on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:07:29 PM EST
    It's for their own good.

    If you go to 2:12 and 2:13 of the unedited (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:23:19 PM EST
    video you will clearly see the rpg.  That is no AK47, it is way too long and AK47s don't have pointy grenades sticking out the end.

    I'm making a much wider point. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Salo on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:34:17 PM EST
    The hatred they  now store in their hearts must be immense. They'll never forgive us.  

    Should they? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:37:51 PM EST
    It isn't something I even entertain as a possibility.  I expect Dubya and all the rest of us to go down in Iraqi history as a kinder...gentler...Hilter and his Reich.  Sorry I didn't get what you were pointing out.  There are only degrees of lesser and greater losing for us.

    But the facts of life right now (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:41:43 PM EST
    on the streets of Iraq are that people with rpgs will likely have a very short lifespan.  And all we are attempting to do now is prop up a sovereign Iraq to replace the one we completely destroyed.  Even if I hate the Americans, I'm not running around my country with an rpg when my own police force is going to help them kill me for doing it.

    The Apache pilots remind me of Olympian gods (none / 0) (#26)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 08:53:31 AM EST
    I would say that is your own hangup (none / 0) (#56)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 03:05:36 AM EST
    It is certainly your own perception.  When a guy can't even find a weapon system on his aircraft....I've never known the Gods to be that human and fallible.  I've never known the Gods to need to be called in by lowly forces on the ground either in order to be "Gods" and do as they please, and I've never known the Gods to need evidence, human command, and lawyers overseeing their every move before firing.  You will notice that this incident is no longer being called a crime by any mainstream journalist.  It is called fact checking.  All events in both combat zones are filmed, something like this is filmed usually by several different feeds and all of them are assessed for illegal actions taken.  If you want to make a real argument, make the argument about who is watching the watchers.  The reason why everybody can't watch all this stuff everyday on youtube is because it could reveal too much about how forces operate, weaknesses can be found, and our troops could be placed in danger.  This was no leak of a war crime though.

    and the Iraqi police were involved in this (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 11:24:16 PM EST
    Once again (none / 0) (#27)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:37:41 AM EST
    the larger point of the video -- should we be in Iraq?  Is this a just or justifiable war? -- gets lost in repetitive discussions about whether the pilots acted "correctly" and within the "rules".  As if them acting within the "rules" somehow makes it all ok.  As if the "rules" were the point of all this.  At the end of the day, I guess it's like the pilot said, if somebody was injured or killed, it's their fault because they were there.

    Greenwald's further post (none / 0) (#45)
    by ruffian on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:49:11 PM EST
    today also made me think more about it in the bigger picture than this particular incident. This incident is only special because we have the tape and reporters were killed. Other than that it is exactly the way two wars are being fought, and is why there are so many civilians killed. 12 dead here because one or two had weapons.

    I think there's a problem (none / 0) (#51)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:45:15 PM EST
    with the outrage expressed by Greenwald about the way the war is being conducted.  He first makes the point that what happened on the video isn't unusual, that this is the normal way war is conducted by the U.S.  I think that's true.

    But then he goes on to say:  "The video is an indictment of the U.S. government and the war policies it pursues."  And I think that's wrong. I think it's a video of how war is conducted.  Period.   The video is, for me, a jumping off pont to think about what people are against when they are against what this video shows.

    Are you against war, with this video Exhibit A of how war is conducted?

    Are you against the rules of war as currently constituted, do you just want a kinder, gentler, more compassionate kind of war?

    Are you against this war regardless of how it's being conducted?  

    Are you against the Iraq war because it's not being conducted consistent with its own rules or what you believe are the correct rules of war?

    It's sort of a mystery to me what position the anti-war movement, or any element of it, is taking at any given time.  

    But if Greenwald believes this video is an indictment U.S. policy, I would guess his position is closer to wanting better rules for how to wage war.  He doesn't seem to be anti-war, or anti-Iraq war, as much as he seems to be pro-better-warmaking.  And that's fine, I guess.  But a) it's not actually anti-war and b) war is about killing people so, while I support rules of war etc., I think they're honored more in the breach than anyplace else because I firmly believe that is the nature of war.

    I don't think war can be reformed such to make it other than what it fundamentally is:  brutally killing people who are where the war is.


    For me, (none / 0) (#28)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:40:21 AM EST
    The bottom line is that those people are dead because WE -- the U.S. -- were there.  For apologists, the bottom line is that those people are dead because THEY were there.

    Emma, a rather long response in disagreement (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:27:51 PM EST
     The Iraq war can't be looked at from one position in its entirety. This war has been going on for several years and it has changed over that time.
    (an important note: I was as opposed to the invasion of Iraq as anyone.)
    The main difference, I think in our positions, has to do with accepting responsibility. Once the United States invaded, decapitated the government,  de Ba'athified the bureaucracy and then eliminated the military, the United States took, de facto and de jure, responsibility for Iraq.  After destroying the physical and governmental infrastructure, the question of just war versus unjust war was moot.
    The `enemy regime' had been defeated and dissolved. To leave Iraq following that would have been unconscionable.
    I for one don't concern myself with whether it was a just war any more, because I know that it wasn't. I also know that the insurgency, while causally related to the unjust invasion, is not the invasion. That was over and done with in 2003.
    Since no nation can `put the genie back in the bottle,' people have to make decisions over subsequent paths of action. These decisions mark where we disagree. You seem to advocate that any activities by the US and Britain following the invasion were and are illegitimate because the original invasion was unjust.  I don't accept that premise.
    I accept existing reality. The United States decapitated a government. When a government is overthrown, there's a vacuum, and following that vacuum, there's usually trouble. For the United States to evacuate, to abandon the already-suffering Iraqi people when regional, religious, tribal/ethnic strife was growing would have been unacceptable, irrespective of who created the mess.
    The best analogy I can use is Rwanda--once the French removed their forces, Rwanda became a bloodbath. By maintaining forces in Iraq, and by supporting certain players, one category was able to take the upper hand.
    Now you may argue that we supported the wrong category--that's certainly your prerogative. However, to argue that because the invasion was not a just war that our remaining to reduce or quell violence was unjust also only follows logically if one finds and accepts that genocide committed by the actors within a country is acceptable, because all of the actors are from within that country.
    It doesn't matter, and it didn't matter by 2007 whether the invasion was just or not in terms of the condition in Iraq.  What mattered was an attempt to minimize the instability and violence.
    As far as the violence, I was originally against the surge, because I did not think it would be successful. I am happy to state that I was wrong. Iraq in 2010 still has bombings and violence, but it is a better place than Iraq during the insurgency.

    Now, about this video: Is it tragic that two reporters were killed and two children injured? Yes. Was it avoidable?  Probably not, unless there were no coalition forces in Iraq. Then those two journalists would not have been killed.  However, I believe that many more thousands of Iraqis would have died had the coalition forces not remained.

    My position is neither delusional nor supportive of the invasion. The consequences of  leaving after the end of the war against the Ba'ath regime would have been worse for the Iraqis, for stability in the region, and thus the world, than remaining.

    As far as a `tribal' approach, because I served in the military and fought in two different conflicts, that argument doesn't go very far. First, I opposed the invasion, even demonstrated against it, because I did not think it was a just or justified war.  
    Justified or not, the invasion happened, as did the elimination of the political and bureaucratic    infrastructure. That elimination, the de-Ba'athification, which included the elimination, with a stroke of the pen of the Iraqi military, changed the  dynamic entirely in my opinion.
    The time was and is past for "shoulda-woulda-coulda" in Iraq. An event such as this one, with the deaths of two journalists, is sad. Was it murder? Not within the frame of Iraq at that time and place. Horrible, yes. Something to be studied, investigated? Surely. It has probably been investigated numerous times already.  
    This incident occurred. It wasn't a free-fire zone. There was an RPG and RPG ammunition there.  
    I would argue that during an open and vicious insurgency that the time for recriminations is not necessarily the moment an incident occurs, irrespective of whether it's perpetrated by an invading occupying force or by homegrown insurgents. There were definite alliances in place. The United States was supporting the Iraqi government. police, and army.  The US position and rules of engagement were well-known, and, I would venture an educated guess,  well-known by the insurgents as well.
    I've been at the "sharp end of the spear" in Mesopotamia before. My experiences led me to rally against the invasion. But once the invasion had destroyed the existing order, I submit there was no realistic option to leave.
    Perhaps the main difference between our positions is that I take a position based on the situation in 07 and 08,  and your position is based on the principle that no good could come from an unjust invasion. I respectfully disagree. More harm would have come had the US forces not been engaged.

    I also don't think that this incident symbolizes the entire Iraq war, any more than any other incident. There's no metaphor here, what we see is the tragic killing of two journalists. the van being shot? Again, tragic. No more tragic than a 14 or 15 year old being shot in Birmingham, Alabama, but no less tragic either.


    So (none / 0) (#43)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:37:04 PM EST
    there is no longer an anti-war movement?  Or a principled anti-war position?  There's only realpolitik dictated by the illegal invasion and war?

    did you read my next-to-last (none / 0) (#44)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:39:51 PM EST
    paragraph? If I misenterpreted your position, please let me know.

    This paragraph? (none / 0) (#47)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:17:51 PM EST
    I've been at the "sharp end of the spear" in Mesopotamia before. My experiences led me to rally against the invasion. But once the invasion had destroyed the existing order, I submit there was no realistic option to leave.
    Perhaps the main difference between our positions is that I take a position based on the situation in 07 and 08,  and your position is based on the principle that no good could come from an unjust invasion. I respectfully disagree. More harm would have come had the US forces not been engaged.

    I read it.  I'm not sure of your timeframes re: the italicized part, so it's hard to make complete sense of it.

    In any event, my position in this thread is less about the war, actually, and more about the anti-war movement and its complete ineffectiveness.  An ineffectiveness which, IMO, is explained well, if only in part, by your post which seems to come down to "I was against the war until I decided it had become a necessary war".

    I honestly don't much care to have a debate about the necessity or not of the Iraq war at any point in time.  My comments here were more about the nature of the "anti-war" movement which now seems to take the legitimacy, perhaps even the necessity, of this war as a given.  Perhaps things look different with Obama in office, who knows?  

    I suppose there are all sorts of ways to be "anti-war".  For me, the question has simply become:  why is the anti-war left so ineffective?  And why would I join a "movement" that can't seem to figure out how to be effective?


    I don't accdept your frame that the Iraq (none / 0) (#50)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:36:00 PM EST
    debacle is the same 'war' in 2010, or was the same war in 2008, that it was in 2003. That's our major difference. There's a time continuation, and the geography is, of course, the same, but the adversaries, the strategy and the tactics changed.

    That's not my frame (none / 0) (#52)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:53:07 PM EST
    One could hardly conduct a war for approaching a decade, now, and have that war be the same "one" from beginning to end.

    I'm neither "for" nor "against" the war.  I just don't care because my ability to affect any outcome is exactly zero.  There's nothing I can do to end the war, it's settled U.S. policy.  There was nothing I could do to stop the war in 2003.  There was nothing I could do to stop the war in 2008.  So it's useless for me to be for or against it.  My personal opinion about this war is exactly zero at this point.  So, I'm not going to debate "the war" -- in any of it's hypothesized incarnations.

    My point, again, is merely about the political incoherency and total ineffectiveness of the "anti-war left".


    Indeed (none / 0) (#46)
    by ks on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:12:22 PM EST
    I'm sort of bemused by the "you break it, you buy it" standard being applied to Iraq in order to justify bad acts during the occupation. Also, the idea that we are currently there as some sort of "genocide protection" is almost funny.  We are there to ensure that the current government is as favorable to us as the previous one was before he/it got out of hand.  This time we are making more sure of it and when we are more sure of it, we'll pack up and go but leave a small base behind and whatever government is in place can and will do what it wants likes to ordinary Iraq citizens.

    Looking at the years following the invasion (none / 0) (#49)
    by jeffinalabama on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:32:02 PM EST
    the threat of genocide in iraq because of the decapitation of civil society was extremely high. Since the US is at present withdrawing many of its forces, that threat has decreased with the stregthening of the Iraqi government.

    As far as the Pottery Barn analogy, that doesn't describe what I have written. there's a moral responsibility to restore, as close as possible, the status quo ante. the US injured Iraq, and must needs restore it. since it's not perfect, not everyone will be satisfied. The effort itself, especially since Bush and company are gone from office, is important.


    Meet the new boss....you know the rest... (none / 0) (#53)
    by ks on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:09:51 PM EST
    In reality, while there certainly was and is sectarian violence, there wasn't a threat of "genocide" in Iraq in the years following the unjustified invasion.  That was propaganda to cover up the real threat - partition which, would have very much worked against our interests in Iraq and the region in general.  

    The "you break it, you buy it" phrase does describe what you wrote earlier.  I fact, you reapeat the sentiment by stating we injured Iraq and must restore it.  Though I do love that our moral responsibility is just to "make an effort" to restore the status quo ante as close as possible and since, you know, they weren't perfect before, our restoration efforts won't be perfect so......  

    Of course that the revived status quo will largely be to our benefit, along with a select group of favored Iraqis, as opposed to the "average Iraqi", is just one of those happy coincidences.


    Eggzackery (none / 0) (#30)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:14:58 AM EST
    Simply amazing that process trumps reality for so many people. They hate us finally because we fly around in iron birds and hose them down with 30mm cannon fire. I'd have liked to see this happen in Northern Ireland... Not.

    I also think (none / 0) (#33)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:27:14 AM EST
    that the underlying assumption of the defense of these killings, that people in their own invaded, occupied, war zone of a country can somehow act in such a way as to reliably keep from being killed by the invading occupiers who created, escalated, and sustain the war zone, is lunacy.

    It's their "fault" they're dead?  Really?  That's a premise the "anti-war left" wants to argue from?

    Are you replying to me? (none / 0) (#38)
    by Emma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:17:27 AM EST
    Is that a direct reply to something I said?  Or a more general comment?

    O was the hero of the anti war left. (none / 0) (#41)
    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:29:54 PM EST
    This is a perfect demonstration ... (none / 0) (#48)
    by nyrias on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:22:12 PM EST
    of the truth that whoever has the bigger stick can get away with murder (well by intention or not) .. literally.

    And this is the perfect reason why we want to have the biggest stick on the block because having anyone else to do this to us is unthinkable.