Originally posted at my site Bob Higgins
I read a piece last night by Jason Linkins at Huff Post in which he describes the experience of CNN correspondent Michael Ware and Ware’s difficulty in dealing with the memory of the death of a presumably innocent young Iraqi shot execution style by US troops in 2007.
Mr Ware tells of the alleged incident he says he witnessed and filmed in 2007 when working for US news giant CNN, but claims the network decided the footage was too graphic to go to air.
He alleges that a teenager in a remote Iraqi village run by the militant Islamist group, al-Qaeda was carrying a weapon to protect himself.
“(The boy) approached the house we were in and the (US) soldiers who were watching our backs, one of them put a bullet right in the back of his head. Unfortunately it didn’t kill him,” he tells Australian Story.
“We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died.”
Ware left CNN last spring after being denied extended time off when apparently suffering from PTSD from his experiences. I respected Ware’s work as a corespondent and wish him well. I also know that he has an important story to tell when the time is right.
Thousands of our kids, if they come home at all, are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan physically wounded and carrying the enormous weight of the emotional baggage picked up during their experience of war. This is nothing new, we brought back the same cargo from Vietnam, Korea and WW2. All wars provide their participants with a dismal tide of dark memories, the material of a lifetime of tortured nightmares.
Before the war in Vietnam the technology didn’t exist to enable the media to share graphically, on a nightly basis, much of the horror of war with a populace that voted for its architects, supported its escalation and cashed in on investments in defense technology. As the anti -war movement grew during the 60’s the powers that be, of the time, were slow to recognize that the graphic coverage of the realities of war were tending to make it less popular and further inflaming the protests.
After Vietnam they sought to shield a sensitive public from the potential trauma of witnessing some of the more unsavory sights and sounds of war in the comfort of their rec rooms. Hence the “embedding” of journalists with the troops, where their movements, access, and message could be tightly controlled and the taxpayers could be spared any overly depressing news and the screams could be erased or overdubbed with patriotic music or happy anchor chatter.
It seems to me that the people who pay for all this carnage, whose taxes fund the blood spatter and the limbs flying about, who have deducted from their paychecks the cost of cleaning up the brain matter smeared on those expensive armored Humvees, these folks have the right to see what they’re paying for. They have a right to see for themselves what their money and flag waving and blustering and chest thumping patriotic chanting produces.
I’ll go farther down that path and say that they have the duty, the solemn responsibility, to bear witness to what they have paid for and voted for and vocally supported. The general public should be required to help the troops they so blithely send into harm’s way carry the baggage that they bring home, all of it.
Help carry the sea bag, the big green heavy one, the one containing a large ball of fear and terror, and pain, and guilt and shame and yes, adrenaline and rage and overwhelming sadness. Parade a few blocks with that on your shoulders, wave a flag and whistle a happy tune.
Unfortunately the damages of war are not erased by a parade down Main Street.
A people that can’t tolerate the sights and sounds of war, the tortured screams of the victims, the faces of the dead and dying, of the orphaned and bereft, should probably stop investing in war industries and voting for chicken hawks who send other people’s kids to die and to kill in the racket that is war.
If we can’t revel in our murderous and bestial behavior, if we can’t wallow in the filth and gore, in the misery and degradation that is war, then it’s time to give it up.