Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The job of an American soldier is horrible and forces individuals into precarious situations where right and wrong are as clear as the dust cloud from an artillery blast. Our military operates within a strict formal protocol that intends to minimize random violence and civilian death while keeping our soldiers safe. Most of the time, our soldiers are very professional and obey orders appropriately.
Occasionally, individuals deviate from protocol or take liberties in combat that produce disastrous results. Some incidences are reported and investigated. Others go unnoticed. The following is a video from 2007 of American soldiers engaging a group of Iraqis they (presumably) believed to be insurgents. What is most disturbing in this video is not an egregious dismissal of protocol, but the communication between soldiers who seem to be operating within standard protocol. If I did not know differently, I could have easily mistaken the footage as cinematics or gameplay from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
As an outsider, I do not intend to cast a generalization upon all American soldiers. I know and respect many individuals who have served in combat situations. Let the following example serve less as anti-military propaganda and more as a sad, telling example of how disgusting and unfortunate war can be.
The debate about our military presence in Afghanistan often seems predicated on our ability to "win." In an elective war without a clear end, what do we define as "victory?" I understand that our presence is a reaction to a direct attack on American soil. I recognize that war is occasionally necessary. But we must always be aware of the costs. As trillions of American dollars are blown and casualties on both sides pile up, I challenge those who engage in the debate to consider the following:
There are no winners in war, as death is the mother of retaliation. When man kills his enemy, he becomes his own. And as he stands alone atop his fallen foe, he is without life. For war yields no victor, but only great loss and greater loss.
WARNING: Contains graphic footage of combat violence and death.
PS: I'm glad that the record companies don't control military footage.