Leaked Iraq Footage

Sarah Arakaki/Guardian

Trigger-Happy Soldiers Endangered Bystanders

On April 3, Wikileaks.org leaked Apache helicopter footage that revealed U.S. soldiers gunning down two supposed insurgents — who actually turned out to be journalists with cameras, two RPGs and Ak-47s — and all those unfortunate enough to be the line of fire.

The tragic mistake, aggravated by crude commentary such as “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards” and “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon,” is a window into the training tactics used by the U.S. The callous remarks make it clear that some soldiers think of war as one big video game.

Indeed, games such as America’s Army, Modern Warfare and Call of Duty have been used to train soldiers and help them deal with combat trauma. But in a video game, no matter how many ruthless rounds are shot, reality can always be reset with the click of a button — not an option on the battlefield.

A civilian can only imagine the psychological toll warfare must take on a soldier. But when war is desensitized to the point that the line between reality and fiction is blurred, the value of a human life is compromised.

Not only has the boyish eagerness to pull a trigger has compromised our country’s public image, it has led to the indiscriminate slaughtering of innocent lives.

—Anqi Chen

Staff Writer

American Troops Were Only Following Orders

Obviously, video-game military training isn’t a vestibule of human sympathy, as demonstrated by the recent video leak of a few helicopter-perched U.S. soldiers gunning down a group of journalists from a helicopter.

However, the soldiers in question can’t be faulted for simply following orders — even if their humanism doesn’t translate very well to YouTube.

In the now-infamous clip, soldiers discuss whether or not the insurgent group is armed, and fire only after it is confirmed the group is non-American.

The screams of jubilation from the soldiers are unsettling, but let’s face it: Soldiers are trained to kill. If a soldier were squeamish, or took too long to consult his conscience, he wouldn’t make a very good fighter — and could potentially endanger his squadron.

It’s not all ruthless violence, either. At the end of the video, members of the U.S. army are seen rushing to the scene to pick up wounded children. The children were originally inside a van, obscured from view — but, upon their discovery, soldiers are quick to help them.

Though a video depicting a violent shooting is never pleasant, the latest from Iraq is no Abu Ghraib — just a display of tactlessness from soldiers who were following ruthless directions.

—Neda Salamat

Senior Staff Writer

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