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Zombie army

 Victoria Street Newz (Canada) 14 May 2019

(Originally published: 04/2010) The war in the Middle East is causing some to question American values and military procedures that are taking place against civilians in the occupied war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. C. L. Cook, for Victoria Street Newz, offers his take on the footage leaked online of U.S soldiers in Iraq. This instance of several American pilots killing non-military citizens in the streets caught on video hits home as one can see the deaths of the innocent including a good Samaritan who stopped to help the victims. In Cook’s eyes, the American media adds to the lies of the government by not airing footage of instances such as this. Together with the Government, horrific events involving U.S. military are being completely hidden from the American people as more innocent killings continue. (828 words) - By C.L. Cook

Typically, several weeks pass between the writing and reading of Street Newz articles. Today, as I write, the television news is replaying United States military video tapes recorded from the cockpit of an attack helicopter. You may have seen the images, and likely forgotten about the whole thing by now. By way of a brief rear-view mirror check, I'll remind of this incident, and try to provide context to it.

The video in question was recorded in July 2007, the tapes never meant to be aired. Someone likely within the military knew about this incident and released the tapes to Wikileaks, an organization whose mission is to bring light to the dark corners of corporate and government malfeasance, and in this case, mass murder.

Wikileaks has been the subject of a number of interesting news stories in recent months, mostly dealing with spy agency attempts to penetrate and undermine the organization. The reason for this is simple: Wikileaks is providing the service major media outlets and newspapers once performed, before they became just another component of larger corporations, corporations making a great deal of money war profiteering. I mention this because, I did something tonight I rarely do; I checked the ABC Evening News to see how they might cover this disturbing incident. What I saw there was: nothing. Nada. Zip. Never happened.

The video you may recall depicts a dozen Iraqi men shot to pieces as they are gathered around a Reuters news photographer on a busy Baghdad street in the middle of the afternoon. The video is full of running jokes and commentary by the pilots and gunners as they wield the helicopter's 30mm machine guns from some unseen distance.

When children are revealed to be among the wounded taken out of a passerby van that had stopped to offer assistance to the victims of this unprovoked attack, dead and bleeding in the road, one wag in the cockpit says; "Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle."

"That's Right," replies another of the remorseless killers.

Two things are immediately made apparent by this horror. The first is not only will the corporate American media not investigate crimes carried out by "their troops," they also will not air the results of others' investigations. Secondly, the casual disregard these soldiers display before, during, and after the slaughter of the men, women, and children beneath them reveals America's complete moral bankruptcy. In that regard, there is nothing there; nothing left in the tank.


Playing by the Rules

The initial response by the Pentagon, the heart and brains of America's military beast, was the assertion that, upon investigation, this gruesome event conformed to their so-called 'Rules of Engagement.' That is to say, everything done that July day fell entirely within the parameters of behaviour expected of the occupation garrison forces. Indeed, the casual banter heard on the tape suggests there are likely innumerable instances just like the one revealed that remain hidden from public view.

To its credit, CBC's 'The National' did air some of the footage Wikileaks released, (including pictures of a wounded man, the Reuters reporter, crawling along the sidewalk, finally killed when the helicopter opened fire on the Good Samaritans that stopped to help him). The CBC too ran a story on Canadian complicity in war crimes in Afghanistan.

The problem for Canada here is the fact Canada's military has signed on to America's "Rules of Engagement", themselves adopted from lessons learned by the Israeli Defense Forces during its occupation of Palestine. It is those "rules" that allow more than a million Iraqi civilians be killed outright, and millions more be driven from their homes. It is those rules that allow "collateral" damage, the killing of civilians in their homes, on the street, during the day or in the middle of the night with impunity. It is those rules that more than allowing the destruction and displacement of the occupied, provide they be dehumanized entirely, rendered in the minds of their assailants as merely digital abstractions, datum on a screen the erasure of which is no more worrying than lost avatars in a video game.

Into its ninth year, the occupation of Afghanistan shows little sign of accomplishing whatever it was publicly supposed to. Thousands have been killed, maimed, made homeless, orphaned. In Iraq, those numbers are ten-fold again. As the soldiers in that helicopter have become entirely inured to the gravity of their actions, their moral imagination stunted, admitting nothing that could not fit a telephone play screen, we citizens too have failed to admit our responsibility for the actions of our governments. We the people have failed to police our collective conscience, allowing instead atrocity replace policy, viciousness oust virtue, and heartless pragmatism trump humanity. We have become, in spiritual terms, the walking dead, capable of nothing save mindless consumption.

Chris Cook offers alternative views via Gorilla Radio, 5 pm Mondays on CFUV radio (cfuv.uvic.ca, 101.9 FM), and online at pacificfreepress.com.

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