One drop in a sea of blood

The statement below was authored by Michael Prysner, an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward!, an affiliate of the ANSWER Coalition.

The harrowing Apache footage released by WikiLeaks gives us a stomach-turning glimpse of war. Seventeen minutes of cold-blooded massacre in a war of more than seven years. A brief clip of one Apache video; a quick look at one part of one mission. Hundreds of those missions take place every day.

The video came to light thanks to military whistleblowers who provided it to WikiLeaks together with supporting documents.  Imagine if we had access to all such videos, the things we would see. Imagine all the Iraqis killed who have no one to uncover the truth about their deaths. Had the death of two Reuters news staffers not generated interest in this video, then the destruction of three families by hellfire missiles fired into an apartment building with no provocation, in a separate engagement also featured in the video, would have never been made public.

This massacre is a drop in a sea of blood. Many other such “incidents” will never be known.

Officers claimed there was “no question” that the pilots were responding to enemy fire; the video shows there is no question that they were not responding to enemy fire. They said that they had “no idea” how the journalists were killed; the video shows that they know very well how those journalists were killed. They were gunned down standing in a crowd of unarmed people.

After the slaughter of that group, the pilots beg for permission to kill the innocent passers-by who had come to the aid of one of the wounded, like any of us would have done if we saw our neighbor dying on the ground as we drove down the street. They kill everyone trying to help the dying journalist, and critically wound two children seen sitting in the front seat.

We see a group of unarmed men mowed down by a machine gun designed to destroy armored vehicles. We see a vanload of good Samaritans obliterated for trying to help a dying victim. We see all this with the soundtrack of the pilots mocking the dead, congratulating each other and laughing about the massacre.

No wonder the U.S. military goes to such great lengths to keep such videos from us. They want us to see Iraq and Afghanistan through their lens, through their embedded reporters, filtered by censorship and restrictions. They know that, once the people of this country see the extreme racism and brutality behind these occupations, they will be repulsed by what their tax dollars are paying for.

The military brass and the White House politicians have tried to justify this senseless atrocity. “Cut the pilots some slack. This was in Baghdad. This was a battle zone”—that’s been their line. The pilots had been indoctrinated with the same colonial mentality. “That’s what they get for bringing their kids into battle,” one pilot says.

The father driving that van was not “bringing his kids into battle.” He was bringing them to school, driving down the street where they live. But the U.S. occupation has made all of Iraq a battle zone. To those pilots, to their commanders over the radio and to the generals in the Pentagon, every single person in Baghdad and in Iraq is “fair game.”

The pilots joked about the people they killed, laughed about U.S. military vehicles running over dead bodies, knowing that their commanders were listening and that they were being recorded. They were not acting out of character. This is the culture of the occupation. This is how these wars are being conducted.

Having seen this, one cannot honestly believe that these atrocities are committed day in and day out for the liberation of the Iraqi people.

The Pentagon’s talking heads and media lackeys are hard at work putting their spin on this story. It’s time to tell the truth. For more than seven years, the U.S. has unleashed criminal, unprovoked aggression against the people of Iraq, and they have been doing the same thing in Afghanistan for more than eight years.

The U.S. military presence in Iraq is a colonial occupation force. The only way forward is a complete, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. This government will not do that unless all of us who are outraged by these criminal acts stand up and demand it.

Michael Prysner is an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of March Forward!


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