Video of U.S. Military gunning down civilians

WARNING! This video shows people, including children, being gunned down by the U.S. Military. You might just want to read the summary.

Via Antiwar.com.

This is why I don't clap for soldiers at the airport.

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War on blatantly unlibertarian ideologies is a moral imperative

A thought experiment: several serial killers has told you that his God ordered him to kill every child in your city - including yours. Assume their past homicidal actions against children reveal that they really mean it.

Suppose they are found by the police - but they wants to continue their God-given task so badly (in order to get to heaven) that they surrounded themselves with human shields in order to evade being fired upon or captured.

Question: is it more moral for the police to fire on these men (thereby risking innocent lives) than it is for them to kill innocent children?

My answer is YES. Why? Because more people will suffer (the total suffering inflicted upon people by this act will be greater) if the gang are allowed to continue their slaughter and their decidedly inhumane war tactics without any opposition at all.

The difference between 99% of the soldiers you are booing (whose very existence is the safeguard that your moral-relativist head will continue to rest on its shoulders and not be cut off by the decidedly unlibertarian Islamic hordes) and the jihadists is that the first sometimes weap when having to kill innocents, while the others party and laugh. IT'S LOOKING AT THE INTENTION that provides our biggest moral insight.

Imagine the perfect weapon: one that, if its handler so chooses, can decide if a targat is an enemy and can kill anyone without risk of any collateral damage. It's safe to say that US soldiers would point it at people known to wage war, not innocents. Jihadists would point it at any non-Muslims and shoot without remorse.

More insight here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrA-8rTxXf0&feature=player_embedded

7.2 on the NEOCON scale...

Seems to me the army pilots had been laughing as they killed unarmed civilians. That hardly sounds like we have a very moral and upstanding group working in the hired-killer branch of the government. Naturally, not all of the folks who server in the military are heartless SOB's like the ones begging the Reuters journalist to pick up his camera so they could shoot him again and claim it was a weapon.

Notice they called the journalists body a weapon so that they could fire on the van with children inside? Talk about moral relativism, you are defending the abhorrent behavior of attempted child murderers.

IT'S LOOKING AT THE INTENTION that provides our biggest moral insight.

Your consequentialist rhetoric is juvenile and can be used to justify any evil deed so long as someone thinks it was beneficial in the end. Who decides when it ends? who decides on the distribution of benefit?Talk about relativism...

I have to totally agree with Mark on this.

How does that specific

How does that specific utilitarian-consequentialist example justify the situation in the video?

As far as the "Islamic hordes" go, this footage will almost certainly show up in al-Qaeda recruitment videos. They must be thrilled not only that soldiers will do this kind of thing, but that the entire military establishment and plenty of people removed from the situation will defend them for it. [Speaking of these Islamic hordes, are they sailing up the Rio Grande in submarines, or what?]

And how do you know that?

They must be thrilled not only that soldiers will do this kind of thing, but that the entire military establishment and plenty of people removed from the situation will defend them for it.

And how do you know that? Based on my knowledge of Al Qaeda's underlying philosophy, I think they are not thrilled at all. They'd rather fight weaklings that second-guess their every decision before taking any step to defend themselves:

If all of this seems rather academic, it might be interesting to note that Sayyid Qutb, Osama bin Laden's favorite philosopher, felt that pragmatism would spell the death of American civilization. He thought that it would, in Berman's phrase, "undermine America's ability to fend off its enemies." There may be some truth to this assertion. Pragmatism, when civilizations come clashing, does not appear likely to be very pragmatic. To lose the conviction that you can actually be right—about anything—seems a recipe for the End of Days chaos envisioned by Yeats: when "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." I believe that relativism and pragmatism have already done much to muddle our thinking on a variety of subjects, many of which have more than a passing relevance to the survival of civilization.

-- Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Also, you make the assumption that extremist Muslims hate us for our actions, not for our beliefs. Which is probably false, given that there are no Christian Palestinian suicide bombers or any other large numbers of "freedom fighters" of different religions against Western colonialism and imperialism.

And what exactly what the reporters doing on the battlefield? They very well knew what they were getting into. Would it not be their responsibility, their choice of taking the risk of being killed? If it is conclusively proven that the soldiers did kill for fun, with full knowledge that those people weren't enemy combatants, I totally agree with punishing them, though. I'm just not sure that extrapolating such behavior so as to induce the opinion that most military acts of the US Army are evil is such a good idea.

You stated in the article that you aren't cheering ANY soldier because of some (apparently) deranged acts. That's the main thing that really bothered me (I am well aware that there have to be at least a few deranged psychopaths in the US army that do kill for fun), because if you want to be a libertarian AND uphold your main self interest - to survive - you cannot possibly want to restrict the actions of those protecting you so as to reduce their effectiveness in doing so (and observing moving targets for even a few seconds in order to determine if they are carrying a camera or an AK-47 does reduce effectiveness).

Thanks for standing your ground

Thanks for standing your ground and for moving the discussion away from "passionate intensity" and in the direction of examining facts. Our visceral reactions to issues of life and death are central to our convictions, but it is also good to examine rationally how close our convictions match reality.
 

And how do you know that [al Qaeda recruiters will be thrilled with the video]?

Randall could speak for himself, but I believe he is referring to the power of the video as a recruiting tool. It shows the soldiers involved, and the wider US audience that supports it, as a collective heartless attacker of a collective innocent Middle East victim. As such, it creates a recruiting tool to bring Middle Eastern fighters to the collective defense of their homeland. We could probably find even neo-conservative thinkers acknowledging this use, otherwise they would not advocate keeping material like this secret. You could also consider the effect on US military recruiting that footage of the 9/11 attacks had on showing a collective heartless Middle Eastern attacker of a collective innocent American victim. Just because you identify with the attacker in the Wikileaks video and the victim in 9/11 videos, don't deny the ability of this type of material to call people to war.
 

"the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

I happen to think that the conviction we have lost is faith in Liberty--the American ideology of every life being an end in itself. Rejection of that ideology has led to a society organized on central authority and cultural worship of empire, torture, theft and war.
 

Which is probably false, given that there are no Christian Palestinian suicide bombers or any other large numbers of "freedom fighters" of different religions against Western colonialism and imperialism.

Here is your counterexample. It comes from Robert Pape's database of international suicide terrorist attacks from 1981 to 2001 hosted at The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism. You can listen to a recent interview with Pape where he presents "the overwhelming evidence that suicide attacks are motivated by nationalism and not Islamic fundamentalism". From the description of his book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism: "Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland."
 

And what exactly w[ere] the reporters doing on the battlefield?

The short answer would be, "doing their job"--covering a war. But, some research into the location of the attack, how close the association was between Reuters and the journalists, and the reason for US forces to be there that day could help dig a little deeper into everyone's motivations. I won't do the research, but maybe someone else has or could. What does seem to be clear (following some of Constant's leads), is that US commanders acknowledge that US and NATO forces are stopping (Afghani, in this case) civilians in the course of their daily activities, unjustifiably killing them, and thereby growing the insurgency.
 

If it is conclusively proven that the soldiers did kill for fun, with full knowledge that those people weren't enemy combatants, I totally agree with punishing them, though. I'm just not sure that extrapolating such behavior so as to induce the opinion that most military acts of the US Army are evil is such a good idea.

I don't think that this is a problem limited to the individual soldiers. True, there no doubt are some sociopaths who kill either feelinglessly or for pleasure among the US population, and they may seek out war as a (sadly) "acceptable" venue for their killing. But I don't think that explanation would account for the level of bravado and dehumanization that is present among fighters. I believe there is some systemic process that is making otherwise normal, even exemplary individuals act as sociopaths. I believe that rejection of a creed of individualism for a creed of violently imposed, central authority has turned devoted Americans into sadistic killers. Understanding that process and figuring out how to stop it is probably the most important issue for anyone interested in preserving American culture.

I've flicked through a bit of

I've flicked through a bit of video to see if there was any damning transcript. I didn't see any but maybe I missed it. All I see here is fog of war. The only way to avoid fog of war is never to fight any war, which would be a bad idea.

Fixed your broken statement

The only way to avoid all fog of war is never to fight any war...

I concur that warfare is a blunt instrument. It gives legal cover to ex judicial killings and asks us to believe that victims, attackers, and defenders all belong to collectives. If we try to decide guilt or innocence of collectives rather than individuals, we get lost in a swamp of moral relativism.

Collateral damage is an inherent part of warfare, and sometimes occurs even with individual defense. Part of the calculation you need to do before engaging a suspected enemy is to realize that your actions may have wider consequences that you do not intend. That doesn't mean that you never use force to defend yourself. It means that you realize you may f*ck up and f*ck up badly. It means that you make sure that your decision to use force is worth that possibility.

What are we gaining in Iraq? In Afghanistan? Pakistan? Somalia? What makes it worth f*ck ups like this?

Agreed

What are we gaining in Iraq? In Afghanistan? Pakistan? Somalia? What makes it worth f*ck ups like this?

Agreed, there are far better ways to fight extremism than purely with guns. The US could accomplish a lot more by using (for lack of a better word) propaganda - telling the people fighting us their paradise and their God probably don't exist, so they will die in vain fighting for a lie. Telling them that, if they embrace love instead of hate, and freedom instead of submission, they can achieve almost all of the promises of their paradise without having to blow themselves up. We must destroy their motivation for killing us, before they destroy our motivation to kill them in self-defense if we truly have to.

We must destroy their

We must destroy their motivation for killing us, before they destroy our motivation to kill them in self-defense if we truly have to.

A lot of propaganda, or better yet 'marketing' is about brand recognition. When they see the flag of the US of A, what do they feel?

If the US of A wanted to convince people that they know what they are talking about when it comes to freedom and democracy, they need to live the word. Firstly, Becoming the shining city on the hill would be a major priority to create a successful brand image, being the better place down the road is simply not good enough. If convincing the world of the awesomeness of secular democracy was the prime directive, becoming a nation that respects natural rights and the rule of law would be a good start.

On the B side:
Osama himself claimed our involvement in Lebanon was his inspiration. If we had been a free society that didn't indulge in collective violence, would 9/11 have happened? That is naturally a rhetorical question, because I am not an author of alternate history novels.

Deep thought

That is naturally a rhetorical question, because I am not an author of alternate history novels.

But, in an alternative universe, maybe you are.

All I gotta say is: I'm

All I gotta say is: I'm sprung.

In war, unfortunate things happen. We could do critical anatomy on any battlefield if we were so privileged to the particulars.

I'm not in a position to critique that which I can't comprehend. I have only sympathy, because empathy is impossible.