To shoot or not to shoot?

The left is going spare about a WikiLeaks video that shows US forces shooting at men on a street in Bagdad from the air.

Idiot/Savant is in no doubt what happened.

In February, WikiLeaks revealed that it would be holding a press conference in the US to expose a classified US military video showing the murder of civilians – sparking a camapign of harassment by US authorities. But despite that campaign, they have delivered – and the video shows exactly what they say it shows. In fact it shows more – because the civilians in question include Reuters news staff Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. The US military had claimed their deaths occurred during a firefight with “insurgents”. The video shows that to be a lie. Instead it was, as Iraqi witnesses claimed, a random bombardment by US helicopters. Bored and paranoid pilots seem to have seen a group of men, assumed they were hostile, and killed them – then slaughtered the people who turned up to take them to hospital.

This isn’t “collateral damage” or a “tragic mistake” – it is murder. …

Keith Ng agrees with the “they was murdered” thesis, but is a little more cautious.

Perhaps the crew really did think that there were guys with AKs and RPGs down there. If those people actually *were* a group of insurgents with weapons on their way to an ambush, would it look different? Is it possible for this to be a genuine, reasonable, yet catastrophic mistake?

Comments on that thread are generally appalled at Keith’s dissent from the “Americans are Evil” meme. Many point to various isolated crimes and stupidity by US military personnel (such as the US jet that hit a cable car) as “proof” that the US is just an evil regime out to get anyone and everyone who doesn’t have a photo of George W on their bedroom wall.

Thing is, the US is fighting insurgents in Iraq. Actually, a better name is “Terrorist”. These are people who violate the Geneva Convention by failing to identify themselves as a fighting force. They have no problem shooting (and hiding behind) civilians, including women and children.

The US didn’t create that situation. Yes, you might blame them for the fact there’s a conflict. But they in no way forced anyone to walk around with guns without identification shooting at people who pissed them off.

But they have to deal with it. They’re morally obligated to protect the civilian population, which means they have to fight, and kill, any insurgent they identify.

The above image (see here) shows a section of the image repeating over and over. It clearly shows a man with an RPG – its absolutely not a camera. While AK47’s and other assault rifles might conceivably be for defense, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would carry a rocket launcher for that purpose.

But let’s assume it was, and that this guy wasn’t an insurgent. Even then, he’s in a warzone, knowingly carrying military hardware that’s going to make him a target.

The US solders identified the RPG, and other weapons. The video shows that they relayed this information back to HQ, and received permission to fire. [Correction: The RPG was only identified after the fact. ]

In doing so, they had every reason to believe that:

a) they were shooting at armed hostiles

b) they were saving innocent lives by doing so

Looking around the conservative blogosphere, a few more points come to light.

Second, note how empty the streets are in the video. The only people visible on the streets are the armed men and the accompanying Reuters cameramen. This is a very good indicator that there was a battle going on in the vicinity. Civilians smartly clear the streets during a gunfight.

WikiLeaks clams there was no other fight.

Fourth, there is no indication that the U.S. military weapons crew that fired on this group of armed men violated the military’s Rules of Engagement. Ironically, Wikileaks published the military’s Rules of Engagement from 2007, which you can read here. What you do see in the video is troops working to identify targets and confirm they were armed before engaging. Once the engagement began, the U.S. troops ruthlessly hunted their prey.

Fifth, critics will undoubtedly be up in arms over the attack on that black van you see that moves in to evacuate the wounded; but it is not a marked ambulance, nor is such a vehicle on the “Protected Collateral Objects” listed in the Rules of Engagement. The van, which was coming to the aid of the fighters, was fair game, even if the men who exited the van weren’t armed.

The attack on the van is the most troubling part of the incident. If the left focused their concerns on this aspect, (and many of the MSM are) I believe they might actually be able to present a case not based on hysteria and hype.

Baghdad in July 2007 was a very violent place, and the neighborhoods of Sadr City and New Baghdad were breeding grounds for the Mahdi Army and associated Iranian-backed Shia terror groups. The city was a war zone. To describe the attack you see in the video as “murder” is a sensationalist gimmick that succeeded in driving tons of media attention and traffic to Wikileaks’ website.

Hard to argue with any of that. This wasn’t the site of the national tiddlywinks championships, it was a warzone.

In the end, Idiot is condemned by his own words.

…People who play with guns don’t get to make mistakes and walk away from them. With martial artists, posession of capability imparts a greater requirement for caution….

Even more so if walking around with one in a warzone, during an insurgency.

But I must leave the last comment to this gentlemen, who seems quite oblivious to what he is saying.

Bloody hell, that injured man from the initial shoot-up crawling away on hands and knees, and the crosshairs on him and the chopper crew just aching for him to pick up a weapon so they have a reason to blow him to pieces…

Yes, those evil Americans, shooting “unarmed” men, then obeying the rules and waiting for them to arm themselves again before shooting once more.

Ugly, yes.

It’s a war.

Update: This thing bothers me, a lot.

DPF has posted the full video and I finally decided to watch it. My advice is, don’t bother with the “edited” version. But I also point out that the “unedited” version is also edited – it doesn’t show the context of identifying these men as terrorists.

I woke up early this morninging, and so far have viewed the video again, read the Rules of Engagement and looked trough the military report again. You can see my comments at DPF’s.

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