Sunday, March 30, 2008

American troops caught on camera in Iraq

My thoughts on the video:

Well it's definitely not the first, nor the most gruesome footage beaming from Iraq.

I do believe the textual narration is a bit exaggerated by linking this behaviour to Nazi behaviour. As a single case, the video seems to portray a few bad cowboys breaking the rules and being idiots.

From a broader perspective, what it demonstrates is a more serious issue, which is a clear lack of discipline in the American army.

It is no Abu Ghreib nor Haditha, but is this a sign of a more widespread culture within the American military? Is there simply no discipline? Whether it's demeaning prisoners, massacring a village, or playing wild karts with incredibly expensive military vehicles while taunting residents (as we just saw), it all appears symptomatic of the same lack of discipline, respect and knowledge in their roles as supervisors and protectors of those they are occupying.

Of course hearts and minds are not going to be won with such behaviour, but who is accountable for this obvious lack in training? What this video clearly reveals, be it a mild transgression, is that neither Abu Ghreib nor Haditha were isolated incidents, but instead part of an endemic culture within the American military in Iraq.

The US will lose Iraq if these are the type of men that have been given the powers of reign in the country. Iraqi forces may be better equipped and more confident than several years ago, but it is still not capable of holding the country together on its own. The US is the essential key to the Iraqi government's survival, and the minute it disappears, the country will be swollen up in either further internal chaos, or relative stability brought by its intervening neighbours.

So if Washington hopes to have a say in Iraq in the future, it really needs to invest on bringing its current troops into line, as opposed to sending additional cowboys.

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