Greenwald on the Reality of War

07Apr10

Alright, one more before I go to bed. This one on the Wikileaks controversy. I’ll let Glenn Greenwald do the talking, with the caveat that this is not unique to the U.S. military–it’s worth keeping in mind that we still have some sense of the devastation of civilian casualty, whereas so many other countries and organizations do not. Greenwald is also quite blunt; in one regard I think this is necessary, but again, this is the reality of a global phenomenon that occurs throughout history immutably:

All of this is usually kept from us.  Unlike those in the Muslim world, who are shown these realities quite frequently by their free press, we don’t usually see what is done by us.  We stay blissfully insulated from it, so that in those rare instances when we’re graphically exposed to it, we can tell ourselves that it’s all very unusual and rare.  That’s how we collectively dismissed the Abu Ghraib photos, and it’s why the Obama administration took such extraordinary steps to suppress all the rest of the torture photos:  because further disclosure would have revealed that behavior to be standard and common, not at all unusual or extraordinary.

Precisely the same dynamic applies to the Pentagon’s admission yesterday that its original claims about the brutal February killing of five civilians in Eastern Afghanistan were totally false.   What happened there — the slaughter of unthreatening civilians, official lies told about the incident, the dissemination of those lies by an uncritical U.S. media — iswhat happens constantly (the same deceitful cover-up behavior took place with the Iraq video).  The lies about the Afghan killings were exposed in this instance not because they’re rare, but because one very intrepid, relentless reporter happened to be able to travel to the remote province and speak to witnesses and investigate the event, forcing the Pentagon to acknowledge the truth.

The value of the Wikileaks/Iraq video and the Afghanistan revelation is not that they exposed unusually horrific events.  The value is in realizing that these event are anything but unusual.

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