This could be controversial . . .
It’s no secret that I’m a pacifist. I don’t have all the answers to it yet but it is something I put a significant amount of time and thought towards and hope to one day be able to comprehensively explain. I’m just not willing to believe that war is ever our only option or that love and grace cannot conquer in every circumstance.
This does not mean that I am indifferent towards our troops – they need our prayers and the appropriate support in the tremendously difficult job they do. I appreciate that the majority of them are involved in combat out of a desire to do good and see justice prevail. It also doesn’t mean I agree with immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq or Afghanistan – we went in and destabilised everything, it’s our job to ensure these countries can function independently again.
On April 3rd, WikiLeaks, an organisation which works to “expose significant injustices around the world” by publishing (often classified) documents etc, released a US military video of an attack in 2007 by an Apache Helicopter in a Baghdad suburb in which two Reuters journalists were killed. It clearly depicts the shooting of one of the journalists whilst wounded and of those trying to rescue him which resulted in the injury of two young children.
I’m not going to post it here but you can watch it on the WikiLeaks website.
They have interviewed the soldier who can be seen in the video rescuing the two children from the wreckage of a van. He and another man involved in the incident have written an open letter of apology to the Iraqi people. His account of his post traumatic stress and the way it was dealt with within the army is particularly interesting.
I can’t pretend to be at all knowledgeable about military operations. Who am I to say if the group of men in the courtyard were a serious threat and if the helicopter was right to open fire or not? I’m not going to judge on that front.
But what I will say is that the thing which most shocked me about the video was the apparent ease with which one human being can kill another: “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards down there”, “Nice . . . Good Shoot’n”. It’s like some kind of video game.
I appreciate that many troops do not have this attitude but I this does show that this is what war does: it dehumanises people. When the “enemy” doesn’t have a face or or a name or a story or a family he/she is infinitely easier to kill. You might say that though this isn’t always right it is necessary to enable soldiers to do their jobs. And I just can’t agree.