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Wikileaks under fire

By       Message Saad Zafar     Permalink
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Wikileaks has been causing outrage as of late. It recently released a
video that showed US Apache helicopters in Iraq attacking suspected
insurgents. At least, that is what the pilots of those helicopters
thought when they launched the attack in Baghdad back in 2007. However,
the victims of the US air strike happened to be journalists and other
civilians. Unsurprisingly, much of the outrage has been directed at
Wikileaks. Senior personnel within the US military are infuriated by the
release of the video. They feel that this video risks jeopardizing the
US mission in Iraq.

However, there are other voices that are
praising Wikileaks for its decision to release the video. And they are
condemning the negligence on the part of the US military. Journalists,
human rights activists, and peace activists tend to speak with one voice
when it comes to collateral damage caused by the US military in its
missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration realizes
that in order to win 'hearts and minds,' in places like Iraq and
Afghanistan, it is absolutely essential to minimize civilian casualties.

General
Stanley McChrystal, the current Commander of the International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan, has spoken of the need to drastically
reduce civilian casualties in the US mission in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the civilian casualty rate in Afghanistan has not gone
down since General McChrystal has taken command of the ISAF. Ordinary
Iraqis and Afghans, by and large, tend to support the US military
presence in their respective countries despite the fact that thousands
of civilians have been accidentally killed at the hands of the US
military.

Some commentators have pointed to the fact that the US
soldier is not trained to detect friend from foe in both Iraq and
Afghanistan. And that may help explain why there have been so much
collateral damage in both countries. Many of the civilian deaths tend to
occur at checkpoints manned by US military personnel. If a car going
through a checkpoint fails to obey instructions, then it may get fired
upon by nervous US troops.

Some pundits have pointed to a bigger
issue here. The US military has been building a reputation for covering
up any and all evidence of its negligence. If a reporter dares to report
on a civilian death caused by the US military, the military tries to
ban the reporter by restricting his access. The military tries to deny
the facts that the reporter is reporting on. The military tries to
destroy the reporter's career by attempting to portray him/her as a
liar. The US military, at times, even goes as far as to plant evidence
in order to show the media that the civilian casualties were caused by
terrorists even though the casualties were actually caused by the US
military.

Terrorists do indeed cause civilian casualties, and so
does the US military. And both the US military and the terrorist
organizations try to implicate each as the primary cause of the civilian
deaths. The need of the hour is for the US military to train its
soldiers to detect civilians from terrorists. In addition, the US
military should develop a culture of openness so that reporters are able
to get the whole truth about US military operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan. As the saying goes, 'Honesty is the best policy.'

 

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I am a student of Human Resources currently living in Toronto, Canada.

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