Today Wikileaks, an exceptional organization dedicated to (according to Wikipedia) “submissions and leaks of sensitive governmental, corporate, organizational, or religious documents”, released a graphically violent video of an incident in Baghdad.
It shows gun camera footage from a US Air Force helicopter as it circles the city. As the video progresses, the Americans fire on a group of civilians, killing two Reuters reporters among them. Subsequently they fire on a minivan that arrives to collect the wounded, seriously injuring two children.
It’s grim, but it needs all the attention it can get. As the saying goes, sunshine is the best disinfectant:
Of course, the killing of innocents happens in every conflict. However, it’s this sort of footage that can sway public opinion back home.
There’s the political aspect of this video, but there’s also the clinical weirdness of it all. We first experienced this kind of displaced violence during the first Gulf War. We were treated to all of those ‘smart bomb’ videos on CNN (despite the fact that they were a small minority of all bombs dropped, and not that smart after all), but this video peels another layer off of that eerie remoteness. The casual conversation of the combatants, the shockingly clear footage of the carnage–it’s so much more like a video game than ever before.
In fact, the video creepily reminded me of a sequence in a video game I’d played recently: