Soldier-Made Videos from the War in Iraq

A new blogging site sponsored by PBS and run by journalist Mark Glaser is currently featuring a story about videos of war shot by American soldiers in Iraq and uploaded to the internet.

This is disturbing to me for many reasons, as I detail below in the comment I left on the site:

As a clinical social worker, and blogger, and citizen concerned about the Iraq war and the soldiers there, this gives me the willies. It’s bad enough that so many of our soldiers are coming back with major PTSD, and that the rate of suicide and mental illness for soldiers from this war is extremely high. Now we are adding to this the possibility that people can get videos of combat directly from soldiers. I can see why this would be against the army code of conduct. I can also see how this could make for more traumatized individuals in the world. It seems like, as you remark in the your post, this will mostly lead to further dehumanizing of the enemy. I guess this helps us understand just how sick the mind needs to become in order to fight in war, but other than that, I don’t see the point. Also, are there any precautions to prevent children from watching these videos?

Okay, I just went and watched one — Iraq Fallujah. All I can say is, this is wrong. It’s way too easy to get exposed to something totally heinous. Especially I think we need to have something in place to keep children from being exposed. It’s good that it’s being documented, but where and when these videos are viewable is a big issue that is not at all being addressed here.

To elaborate on my concerns, and I’m a big “freedom of speech” defender, but I’m imagining an ordinary 13-year-old boy deciding he is going to research the Iraq war online, coming across these videos, spending several hours watching them in a state of total shock and engrossment, and consequently starting to feel very depressed, not being able to sleep at night, afraid to tell his parents what he’s done for fear he will get in trouble. It seems to me there should be some stopping points along the way before these videos are made available. Stop One: US Army Intelligence. Stop Two: a page that states that this material may not be suitable for minors and requests evidence that the viewer is not a minor.

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3 responses

  1. As evidence of my claim of potential heinousness in these videos, I direct your attention to a video on youtube called “The Enemy” which features many gory photographs of what appear to be potential war crimes and atrocities. No link (I have young ‘uns, after all) — just go in and do a search under “Iraq — The Enemy.” I also want to say that I would rather have this stuff documented than not documented, and I hope that, in the right hands, it will help people realize the insanity of war, especially long, protracted war without a clear plan or purpose, and help mobilize the end of this insanity.

  2. I have never responed to one of these but after reading the comments about the combat videos I felt that I must. First you talk about PTSD I am a vietnam vet who thank god has not had much trouble with it but a lot of guys did and do becouse NOBODY wanted to hear about it nobody wanted to talk about what happened over there so we never got a chance to talk it out and to let go. Which is what these guys are doing, it’s their way of saying look what happend ,look what we have to deal with, it’s their way of getting it out in the open of talking about it. I wish we had this ability (and support) in my time. And were did you get your statistics about the rate of suicides and mental ilness? from the uPI or Retuers or the NY times? Most of the news medias are so far to the left that the only thing they show is the down side which fits their anti Bush and Iraq war agenda. If you want to find out how our guys are doing try asking them, I have talked to a lot and they are doing very well. What bothers most that I have talked to is the negative view of the media and the anti war protesters. And last (my fingers hurt) You whine and worry that children may view it but you let them watch unlimited telavision that has more violence , death and sex shown in one afternoon then these videos. And how many of you hand wringers out there let your children play Mortal Combat games (their quit realistic now) on there computers and play Stations?? ‘dehumanizing”? we’ve been ‘dehumanizing for years. And to the lady who is worried about the 13yo “spending several hours watching them in a state of total shock and engrossment”, have you heard of this cool thing that parents can do? it’s called PARENTAL CONTROL and TALKING to your children.

  3. Bill, thanks for your comment. This was a period where I was gaining more awareness about the war. I think I was dealing with my own shock about the videos at the time. You can see the follow-up post I did about this here:

    http://kmareka.com/index.php/?p=76

    I agree that the videos are a way for soldiers to tell the story of their experience and agree we all have to monitor what our children see. However, I think there is a real difference between playing violent games and viewing real death.

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