Jul 23, 2007
On Monday July 16, ABC News aired parts of a documentary “Inside the Surge” made by British photographer Sean Smith. The whole film had already been shown on British TV. Smith had just spent two weeks with U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.
These infantry soldiers go out for six hours on, six hours off, day after day after day, for 15 months. They see some of their buddies killed every week.
And they go wild. They shoot off huge rounds in Iraqi neighborhoods, not knowing who is their enemy. This brief film footage shows the troops killing a taxi driver who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They round up all the men in the surrounding houses, sending them off to prison, where they expect to be tortured.
An old lady whose house they storm into cries, “God send us peace in Iraq. Get out of my house. I am paralyzed with fear.” Why would she not be afraid when all the men in her family are in danger and the soldiers end up dragging the dead taxi driver into her yard.
We see small parts of what the U.S. military is wreaking on the Iraqi population: an infant bleeding from a gunshot wound, a youngster covered with shrapnel, a man bleeding and burned.
And we see the horror that U.S. troops are caught in, as they fear death at every corner. An armored car in which six U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were burned to death was shown in the film. A woman wrote, “I am the mother of the driver of that tank that burned... My son was 19 years old and could see the futility of the invasion and occupation and knew this war will never be won.”
The film and photographs accompanying it have been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers, using web sites like Youtube.com, where the video can be seen. Viewer responses were also quite pointed. One wife wrote, “It’s about time that the media started to report the struggles our soldiers face over there every day. The mental and physical toll this is taking on our troops and their families cannot be measured.”
One soldier featured in the film bitterly summed up the U.S. war in Iraq: “I challenge anyone in Congress to do my rotation.... I’ll do 15 more months – they don’t even have to give me extra pay – if any politician or the president will come ride with me on my rotation,” every single day.
After more than four years of pretending the U.S. was carrying out an antiseptic and humane war in Iraq, a major U.S. media has finally shown a small slice of the war as it is. And even then, they cut the film.
But burying this war behind the mountains of propaganda put out every day to justify it will not make the war go away – neither for the Iraqis, nor the U.S. troops, nor their families.