About the Wikileaks video

Like many others, I have now watched the footage of the video of civilians killed in suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. The video was first released by wikileaks. Wikileaks is a Swedish website launched in December 2006 that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of its sources.

The video is just disheartening, to put it mildly. ( For more info, here is a review of the book "The Good Soldiers" on the events)

I remember when we started the program here. As part of the leadership workshop, we watched how the terrible chain of events in Rwanda unfolded (Coincidentally, today is the 16th anniversary of the genocide). Knowing what happened beforehand did not prevent a few of my MPP colleagues and myself from being shaken for a while at the end of the film.

Films and videos have a way to make a certain reality more palatable to anyone who is watching it. Internet has made it so that the distribution of such materials have become much easier.

The reactions from the videos around the world are multiple as you can imagine. I will not add another take on what has already being said at length on either sides of the issue.

In addition to noting that internet has provided a way to distribute content that may not have been made public 50 years ago, I just wanted to make two more points:

- One may not agree on whether such videos should have been made public. There is a reason why some videos are classified materials. Still, the cat is out of the bag (again) and I guess the issue will be have to be addressed again somehow, in light of the video release. The speed and unpredictability of information flow make it very difficult to know what might be made public someday. It does not add much value to argue over whether the current state of information flow is a desirable situation from a national security perspective, it just is. Moreover, anyone can surely think of the benefit that a decentralized information network can achieve for the sake of transparency and human rights.

- if you haven't yet, I'd encourage you to read unfrozencaveman's perspective on the matter. unfrozencaveman is my classmate and a great friend. He also has a unique perspective on this specific issue because he has been part of several deployments in Iraq from 2004-08. He's been at the forefront of many battles and ambushes in that region. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote about the flaw of Army's recruiting strategy (and how it relates to the video footage) :
"So with a bit more perspective now after three tours in Iraq, and dealing a bit with actual death and destruction, I can more clearly see the dangers of using video games as a recruiting tool. [..] players of these games become dangerously desensitized to suffering and death as they kill scores of computer-generated humans on screen. If I took away anything from my deployments to Iraq from 2004-2008, it is that life is precious. It’s a cliché, I know – perhaps one that could bear some repetition in our day. But it is true. But the consumption of the most violent games is forming societies of little murderers, and this worries me. No one ever desensitized me to killing. And when I had to come to grips with that horror, my normal human reactions, raw and uniquely tailored to deal with tragedy, kicked in and allowed a human being to deal with a real, human problem."

From my foreign (and naive) perspective on such matters, I would opine that as part of their damage control strategy, the US army would do well to highlight similar perspectives and take into consideration unfrozencaveman's thoughts (who, incidentally, is not part of the US Army).

PS: we had our share of military killings that have not been resolved yet in Madagascar. The events were also caught on tape and widely viewed back home. The fact that a complete investigation has till not been conducted to term is severely undermining the current and previous Malagasy administration.

No comments:

Post a Comment