Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Face of War

I don't watch the evening news much, which is why I missed this (via Juan Cole):

Since ABC News aired some of its most graphic footage of the Iraq War on "World News" Monday, it has been viewed 251,000 times online and attracted more than 500 comments - including one from the mother of an American soldier whose death was depicted.

The footage shows U.S. troops called in to help after a Bradley fighting vehicle was blown up. ABC showed the upside-down vehicle in flames, noting that six American soldiers had died there.

The troops go on patrol - unsuccessfully - to find who set off the bomb. At one point they raid the home of a sobbing old woman, and at another shoot dead the driver of a vehicle who did not respond to orders to stop. American soldiers speak bluntly on camera about the difficulty of facing endless combat missions.

The film was shot by Sean Smith, a photojournalist for The Guardian newspaper in England. It was shown on Britain's ITV on Monday and spotted by ABC's London bureau, which quickly arranged to have the story air on American television.

For some reason I can't get the video to work on the ABC News site, but here's a link to the original footage also posted on YouTube:

The footage depicts an IED attack in which six American and one Iraqi soldier are killed, the death of an Iraqi at the hands of American troops, and a bombing which badly wounds an Iraqi soldier and an Iraqi child, who can be heard screaming on the video.

If you're interested, ABC's report the next night on the response to the footage can be found here. It includes an interview with the mother of one of the soldiers who died in the IED attack, referenced in the article I linked to above. He was only 19.

The video is harrowing, but you can find worse out there. The American media typically doesn't show such graphic images, but TV programs such as Frontline have been more blunt in their depictions of the war. As they should be. One of the commentators on the story said he had "nightmares" after he watched the report. I find myself wondering where he's been for the last four years.

Of course, some of the comments on the ABC broadcast also excoriated the willingness of the "liberal media" to proclaim defeat in Iraq by daring to broadcast such footage. One of the commentators referred to it as "cowardly reporting." This is beyond absurd. Of all people, it is the American people themselves who are entitled and have a duty to watch such footage. It is for us to decide if the price we are paying in dead and wounded is too high. As citizens it is our only job in this war, to face such news unflinchingly and without reservation. It is not too much to ask, compared to what our soldiers and the Iraqi people must endure.

1 comment:

adam said...

Indeed, "cowardly reporting" would not be showing this.