There is now hubbub, reported in The New York Times for instance, about a newly released video showing American troops in 2007 killing Iraqi civilians from a helicopter hovering over Baghdad. The video is gruesome. The chatter from the Americans is worse. But neither should come as a surprise. Among the victims - and that is the proper word - was a talented young photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen. You can find a remembrance of Noor-Eldeen, along with some of his work, here at The Lede blog.
The post is touching. It also is a reminder. War is shitty. And the young men we send to fight are desensitized by the experience. War is kill or be killed. So we should be surprised not in the least about the crass attitude articulated by the American troops in the video sound track. In fact, this is precisely what you claim to be grateful for when you thank military men and women 'for their service.' If you find the attitude of these young men offensive - and you should - the proper response is to oppose useless military adventures like the BushCo invasion of Iraq. Obama said he'd end the war and instead authorized more troops.
More generally the video is a reminder of why government and the military seek so diligently to control access to information and visual depictions of their activities. On the one hand, they (sincerely, I think) don't want journalists to be in harm's way. On the other hand, our military leaders don't want we regular folks, sitting at home in our comfy chairs, to see the death and destruction and mayhem they are sowing in our name. This video is unique in that it has been released (despite official efforts). There are surely similar videos - well hidden under the military cloak of being 'classified' material - of similar killings. And there just as surely have been many, many other such episodes that were not caught on film. War is shitty. Always. Unavoidably. Unfortunately, it is sometimes unavoidable too. The tragedy here - or should I say crime? - is that our fiasco in Iraq was, and is, totally unnecessary.
P.S.: There are useful commentaries on all this here at Newsweek and here at The Guardian. Notice that the latter includes the video whereas the U.S. media do not. And note too that the U.S. media can't even bring themselves to spell out the profanities the American personnel use. Are they protecting our delicate sensibilities?
P.S.2: Glenn Greenwald has written a series of very good posts on the episode too    .