Zombie Army

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Zombie Army
by C. L. Cook [From the May 2010 Victoria Street Newz]
Typically, several weeks pass between the writing and reading of Street Newz articles. Today, as I write, the television newz is replaying U.S. military video tapes recorded from the cockpit of an attack helicopter. You may have seen the images, and likely forgotten about the whole thing by now. By way of a brief rear view check, I'll remind of this incident, and try provide context to it.

The video in question was recorded in July 2007; the tapes never meant to be aired. Someone, likely within the military, knew about this incident and released the tapes to Wikileaks, an organization whose mission is to bring light to the dark corners of corporate and government malfeasance, and in this case mass murder.
Wikileaks has been the subject in recent months of a number of interesting news stories, mostly dealing with spy agency attempts to penetrate and undermine the organization. The reason for this is simple: Wikileaks is providing the service major media outlets and newspapers once performed, before they became just another component of larger corporations making a great deal of money war profiteering.
I mention this because, I did something tonight I rarely do; I checked the ABC Evening News to see how they might cover this disturbing incident. What I saw there was: Nothing. Nada. Zip. Never happened.

The video you may recall depicts a dozen Iraqi men shot to pieces as they are gathered about a Reuters news photographer on a busy Baghdad street in the middle of the afternoon. It is replete with running jokes and commentary by the pilots and gunners as they wield the helicopter's 30mm machine guns from some unseen distance. When children are revealed to be among the wounded taken out of a passerby van that had stopped to offer assistance to the victims of this unprovoked attack, dead and bleeding in the road, one wag in the cockpit says; "Serves 'em right for bringing their kids to a battle."

"That's Right!" replies another remorselessly.

Two things are immediately made apparent by this horror: The first is; not only will the corporate American media not investigate crimes carried out by "their troops," they also will not air the results of others' investigations. Secondly; the casual disregard these soldiers display before, during, and after the slaughter of the men, women, and children beneath them reveals America's complete moral bankruptcy.
In that regard, there is no there there; nothing left in the tank.

Playing by the Rules

The initial response by the Pentagon, the heart and brains of America's military beast, was the assertion that, upon investigation, this gruesome event conformed to their so-called 'Rules of Engagement.' That is to say, everything done that July day fell entirely within the parameters of behaviour expected of the occupation garrison forces. Indeed, the casual banter heard on the tape suggests there are likely innumerable instances just like the one revealed that remain hidden from public view.

To its credit, CBC 's The National did air some of the footage Wikileaks released, (including pictures of a wounded man, the Reuters reporter, crawling along the sidewalk, finally killed when the helicopter opened fire on the Good Samaritans that stopped to help him). The CBC too ran a story on Canadian complicity in war crimes in Afghanistan.

The problem for Canada here is the fact Canada's military has signed on to America's "Rules of Engagement," themselves adopted from lessons learned by the Israeli Defense Forces during its occupation of Palestine.
It is those "rules" that allow more than a million Iraqi civilians be killed outright, and millions more be driven from their homes. It is those rules that allow "collateral" damage, the killing of civilians in their homes, on the street, during the day or in the middle of the night with impunity. It is those rules that more than allowing the destruction and displacement of the occupied, provide they be dehumanized entirely, rendered in the minds of their assailants as merely digital abstractions, datum on a screen the erasure of which is no more worrying than lost avatars in a video game.

Into its ninth year, the occupation of Afghanistan shows little sign of accomplishing whatever it was publicly supposed to. Thousands have been killed, maimed, made homeless, orphaned. In Iraq, those numbers are ten-fold again.
As the soldiers in that helicopter have become entirely inured to the gravity of their actions, their moral imagination stunted, admitting nothing that could not fit a telephone play screen, we citizens too have failed to admit our responsibility for the actions of our governments.
We the people have failed to police our collective conscience, allowing instead atrocity replace policy, viciousness oust virtue, and heartless pragmatism trump humanity. We have become, in spiritual terms, the walking dead, capable of nothing save mindless consumption.    

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