OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Iraq, from the air

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  • Che Tibby,

    big, big call keith.

    surely you're aware of the tales that have emerged from falluja?

    the US is well and truly proven to kill civilians indiscriminately, in many theatres, in many wars, so while we can wax lyrical about the accuracy of what it is we're each interpreting we are only doing ourselves a disservice in the face of some pretty strong evidence.

    would you have done the same in the face of a picture of an iraqi standing on a box, wearing a klu klux hood?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2038 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Is it possible for this to be a genuine, reasonable, yet catastrophic mistake?

    Hardly; this is S.O.P. The real tragedy -- apart from the obvious -- is that so many people won't realise that this happens all the time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I'll have a proper look at this stuff when I get home - although our irregular correspondent from New Orleans will probably have been drawn to the thread by then...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1607 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Quinn,

    As the footage intro (or outro, i forget) explains carrying a Uzi is legal and even a RPG common place (and not in-itself proof of being an 'insurgent'). the footage is harrowing and shocking and shows the careless disregard these people have for human life. its like watching someone play counter strike. appalling, and no doubt hideously common.

    Hamilton • Since Feb 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    That's a chilling look at modern warfare. Holding something in your hand that might be mistaken for a weapon by someone flying around in a chopper a mile away is enough to get a dozen people killed. Must suck for anyone who plays a musical instrument.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And especially in this day and age of 'smart' bombs too.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5312 posts Report Reply

  • wasabicube,

    I've been disturbed by the US definition of "war" in the context of Iraq for years. They still talk about being "at war" when, surely, they're dealing with the aftermath of a war [they created], which in most theatres should tend towards "peacekeeping". Similarly, in the video, a voice claims those on the ground should not have brought children to a "battle". Again, the word is overloaded. The "battle" was signally one-sided and visited upon the ground from armoured armchairs at a height and distance. I guess that's the definition of asynchronous warfare. Sad.

    Whangaparaoa • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,


    US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.

    Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The precise composition of the force has never been made public.

    The claims were made as Nato admitted responsibility for all the deaths for the first time last night. It had initially claimed that the women had been dead for several hours when the assault force discovered their bodies.

    “Despite earlier reports we have determined that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale, a Nato spokesman. The coalition continued to deny that there had been a cover-up and said that its legal investigation, which is ongoing, had found no evidence of inappropriate conduct.


    EDITORIAL:U.S. must stop spying on WikiLeaks
    Fri Mar 26 08:44:46 UTC 2010

    Over the last few years, WikiLeaks has been the subject of hostile acts by security organizations. In the developing world, these range from the appalling assassination of two related human rights lawyers in Nairobi last March (an armed attack on my compound there in 2007 is still unattributed) to an unsuccessful mass attack by Chinese computers on our servers in Stockholm, after we published photos of murders in Tibet. In the West this has ranged from the overt, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, threatening to prosecute us unless we removed a report on CIA activity in Kosovo, to the covert, to an ambush by a "James Bond" character in a Luxembourg car park, an event that ended with a mere "we think it would be in your interest to...".


    But the increase in surveillance activities this last month, in a time when we are barely publishing due to fundraising, are excessive. Some of the new interest is related to a film exposing a U.S. massacre we will release at the U.S. National Press Club on April 5.

    The spying includes attempted covert following, photographng, filming and the overt detention & questioning of a WikiLeaks' volunteer in Iceland on Monday night.

    I, and others were in Iceland to advise Icelandic parliamentarians on the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a new package of laws designed to protect investigative journalists and internet services from spying and censorship. As such, the spying has an extra poignancy.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Sorry Keith, but there have been so very, very many 'friendly fire' incidents in the last few years, including firing on their own and allied troops, that I'm more or less inclined to dismiss this out of hand.

    It's not so much that the RoE needs tightening up (although they do), as the fact that they don't seem to be trained to be anything other than a bunch of itchy-trigger-fingered yahoos.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    US Military investogation docs released, if you're prepared to go past they we-will-snoop-on-you warning.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    If we cut the crew maximum slack, and view them as merely stupid and confused rather than psychopathic, that's still manslaughter, and they and the commanders who covered up for them should still be going to jail. People who play with guns don't get to make mistakes and walk away from them. With martial artists, posession of capability imparts a greater requirement for caution. The same should apply to those posessing attack helicopters.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1704 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The 1948 British Army handbook said the best defence from a nuclear weapon was not to be there when it went off. Perhaps the United States military should thumb through a copy of this manual when they consider the best way to avoid massacres of innocent people in Iraq.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2127 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    Must suck for anyone who plays a musical instrument.

    Hehe. I'm sorry.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Perhaps the crew really did think that there were guys with AKs and RPGs down there. If those people actually *were* a group of insurgents with weapons on their way to an ambush, would it look different? Is it possible for this to be a genuine, reasonable, yet catastrophic mistake?

    I really can't see how failure to follow the rules of engagement can be regarded as a mistake. Criminal negligence, surely, to say the very least?

    Just about anybody could be an insurgent on the way to an ambush. That's why they're supposed to ascertain who they're shooting first.

    I struggle mightily to see the point you're trying to make in this post.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    The video is "graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result," said David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters news.

    I would have thought it was graphic evidence of the dangers involved in being an Iraqi myself.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    US Military investogation docs released, if you're prepared to go past they we-will-snoop-on-you warning.

    Very interesting to read having seen the video. They lied, didn't they?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    Having studied and been trained in the Laws of Armed Conflict, there is little room to defend some of the acts. (The rules of engagement a force operates under normally apply constraints to what is allowed under LOAC)

    I sat there quite sickened watching the video, the poor target identification and, deliberately targeting the wounded who were "hors de combat"

    A combatant is hors de combat (out of combat) if that person:
    a. is in the power of an adverse party;
    b. clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or
    c. has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and is therefore incapable of self defence,

    provided that in any of these cases the individual abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 139 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Very interesting John. Where does that set of rules come from, BTW?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10488 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Unsurprisingly, ONe News completely ignores the day's biggest story.

    Plenty about Tiger Woods though.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Plenty about Tiger Woods though.

    Who flouted the rules of being engaged. See that's not that far off.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Whoops,

    Keith, with respect, and with a great deal of measurement in my judgement... bullshit.

    You're either deliberately trying to be provocative, or that's the worst call I've ever seen/read you make.

    here • Since Apr 2007 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I wonder how many people have seen David Simon's Generation Kill? I thought it delved into these issues quite well - what does a soldier who is trained to sport enemies see when he scans a civilian population? how can the rules of engagement be bent? how are these crimes recorded and policed?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Ben: Google tells me it is a Geneva Convention protocol.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3119 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I wonder how many people have seen David Simon's Generation Kill?

    I started last night (2 eps.), and then woke up to this. For me, the true horror is that the American people just don't want to know.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    For me, the true horror is that the American people just don't want to know.

    Two words: Haditha Whitewash

    It's not only that they don't want to know, it's that even when someone actually does care, those responsible as often as not get a walk. There is a huge reluctant to confront this when the military and their so called service is placed on such a national pedestal.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3275 posts Report Reply

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