Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

April 9th, 2010 8:31 PM

Collateral Murder? Wikileaks, Soldiers Speak

Bravo Company 2-16, the company I was deployed with to New Baghdad felt isolated from the fanfare that other soldiers experienced in Iraq. While major celebrities visited the safer bases, FOB Rustimiyah was lucky to get the third-string of the Buffalo Bills’ cheerleading squad.

Several years later, and 2-16 has more fanfare than we ever wanted. An online whistleblower site released a video yesterday of a mission that 2-16 was a part of, titled COLLATERAL MURDER. Yes, I am a conscientious objector and yes, I had pissed some of my leaders off a few days earlier and was not trusted on missions for a few weeks so was left back at the base while this event took place, but I do a have a few words to say about it. http://wikileaks.org/

This video is aimed at sensationalizing a scene that, militarily speaking, is somewhat understandable; and with the gain of righteous indignation that many have seemed to embrace after watching this video, we lose a much more complex, honest conversation.

To attempt to put this fragile conversation into an analogy, my best description is that this video implies that what happened here was like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre-sick, unwarranted killing. This video is a horror, but I would argue that it is closer to the Saw movies…

The high number of soldiers that I deployed with, including my friends whose voices and images are in this chilling video wanted to improve the lives of their friends, families, and their own futures. The rep. from Wikileaks in the interview above says that it’s just about killing as many people as possible. Sadly, there are too many soldiers I knew who took pride in the number of lives they had taken or disrespected the bodies of the enemy died in battle, but I don’t believe any of us started this way…

In the SAW movies, characters suddenly find themselves in horrible situations, feeling they have no option but to perpetrate awful acts. The photo from one of the movies above is a character who wakes up to find this machine he’s trapped in, and, if I remember correctly, the key to unlock the machine is stuck in the stomache of a person lying next to him and he most rip open that person’s stomache to retrive the keys and make it out alive.

I urge you to be slow to judge those who are trapped in these machines and ask yourself if you did or didn’t do anything to create this trap. We faced threats every single day and naturally, a defensiveness that at times can cross into paranoia will emerge.

In the video, I can certainly understand why the helicopter gunner thought he was seeing weapons and, in the full 40-min video, it even has on record soldiers finding a live rpg round. If you call this a heartless murder, I think that you’re being overly self-righteous. If you question the very nature of the machines that we trap ourselves in and our goals for doing so, then we can learn something from this video.

Honestly, I was surprised when I saw this video and how sensationalized it was; of all the memories that have led to me change my mind about war, having my friends tell me what they saw on this July day isn’t even on the list.

I will grant that the shooting of the van is far less militarily justifiable than the initial killings. But again going back to the Saw example, in the frantic scramble for survival (though this scramble definitely can be overplayed), fear and vengeance cloud our vision.

As the military officer points to in the interview, in the heat of such moments, we don’t think of the effects these actions will have on those children or the local community; we just want to make it out alive. Just as I hope we can all avoid blindly judging the soldiers in this video, I would hope that we can take the same understanding to “the other side.” Both sides surely have more than enough reasons to compel them to do what they do. I had multiple conversations with soldiers in Iraq telling me that they would become insurgents if they were in the Iraqi’s shoes.

Like the machine in Saw, we strap deadly machines on idealistic men and women who fight in war. Judging their actions is easy, but to truly find solutions, we need to understand what happens when we’re strapped in these machines. That is where Collateral Murder fails; we need to see the humanity in all, no matter how tight the machines might be holding a person.

And speaking of machines, I think this video also proves that with such dominating technology that is shown here, if war were only a question of superior firepower, then the seven plus years that this has been going on, much of that theory remains unanswered.

And that is why I embarked on another path to solve problems than through war; not because I thought I was surrounded by cold-hearted murderers, but because the system that we were a part of forced away our humanity; and though it is natural to want to exchange a slap for a slap, it seems to only justify each side’s hatred of eachother.

The Good Soldiers is a book written about the 2-16th Infantry and it describes the event in Collateral Murder and it’s aftermath…

“…an EFP had killed his friend… (his) memorial service had been on July 7, and now, 5 days later, as M saw all of the bodies scattered around, blown open, insides exposed, so gruesome, so grotesque, he felt–as he would later explain–”happy. It was weird. I was just really very happy. I remember feeling so happy. When I heard there’s thirteen Killed In Action, I was just so happy, because C had just died, and it felt like, you know, we got ‘em”

“…But the one on top was still alive, and as M locked eyes with him, the man raised his hands and rubbed his two forefingers together, which M had learned was what Iraqis did when they wanted to signal the word for friends.

“So M looked at the man and rubbed his two forefingers together too.

“And then dropped his left hand and extended the middle finger of his right hand.

And then said to the other solder, “C’s probably just sitting up there drinking a beer thinking ‘Hah! That’s all I needed’” -The Good Soldiers by David Finkel, Ch 5

And as one side hardens their hearts more and more in the name of their lost friends, I have no reason to doubt that the other does exactly the same. If people mourn fallen soldiers here, imagine how much more grief there would be if the person fallen was a child, or somebody who had nothing to do with perpetrating the violence. Because I have felt grief and sadness in my own heart, both in war and with the rush of emotions following 9/11, I can put myself in the shoes of the community of New Baghdad who had protested our prescence to begin with, seeing how creating Freedom, Peace, and Democracy through actions like the one shown in this video seem an extremely odd recipe… to say the least.

And even if somehow this contradictory recipe cooks up the desired product, I can’t help but recoil at rewatching the van being shot, the celebration of death in the gunner’s conversation, or reading the words of a fellow soldier as quoted in The Good Soldiers without thinking of the religion that I went to Iraq in the name of and being haunted by the words of the man it’s named after: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” -Matt 16:26

And at the end of the day, when the internet videos are watched, when our guns rest beside our beds, when we judge those who we don’t try to understand (American or Iraqi), I hope we also remember to ask, “is anything worth more than my soul?”

Tags:

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

If you have a moment today, I hope you can read the obituary for my father Francis (Frank) Moore, who died this past Saturday at the age of 92: Francis...

Apr 22nd
6:33 PM
Read More

My father, Francis (Frank) Moore, passed away this morning a few months shy if his 93rd birthday. He was a great dad I am blessed to have had him in my life. I...

Apr 20th
2:58 AM
Read More

Time to put the cuffs on Chris Christie -- not for the bridge scandal, but for this: Chris Christie's $300m pension proposal broke state anti-corruption...

Apr 18th
7:31 PM
Read More

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles