The WikiLeaks Video and Terrorist Blowback

By Jacob Hornberger
hat tip: Campaign for Liberty

I can’t improve on Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of the WikiLeaks video depicting the slaughter of Iraqi citizens. See here and here and here.

However, there is one part of the WikiLeaks video that I wish to address — the reaction of the helicopter pilots upon learning that there were two children who were shot and injured during the melee. Their reaction, in fact, perfectly exemplifies the mindset that has long characterized U.S. officials, including those in the Pentagon.

When the pilots discovered that they had shot the two Iraqi kids, here was their exchange:

“Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

“That’s right.”

No remorse, no anguish, no regret, no concern. Just callous indifference to the possibility that the lives of two innocent children might have just been snuffed out.

What will be the reaction of the relatives of those two Iraqi children, who lost their father in the attack? Surely, even the most ardent pro-war advocates would not deny the obvious: the relatives will be filled with anger and rage.

Welcome to the world of U.S. foreign policy and terrorist blowback.

In fact, this most recent episode in Iraq is a minor déjà vu of what took place during the Persian Gulf War and the 11-year period following it. During that war, the Pentagon conducted a secret study that concluded that if Iraq’s water and sewage facilities were destroyed, this would help spread infectious illnesses among the Iraqi people.

So, the order was given: Drop the bombs on those facilities.

Then, to ensure that the facilities couldn’t be repaired, the U.S. government induced the UN to impose one of the most brutal systems of sanctions in history on Iraq.

The Pentagon proved to be right, with the deadly consequences of drinking the polluted water falling most heavily on Iraqi children. Year after year, tens of thousands of Iraqi children were dying. Two high UN officials even resigned their posts in protest to what they termed “genocide.”

What was the reaction of U.S. officials to those deaths? It was the same reaction expressed by those pilots in the WikiLeaks video: callous indifference. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright reflected the mindset of U.S. officials when she told “Sixty Minutes” (and the people of the Middle East) that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it.”

It is impossible to measure the depth of anger and rage that spread not just in Iraq but also the Middle East over the deaths of the Iraqi children, year after year, and over the mindset of callous indifference that characterized U.S. officials. When Ramzi Yousef was sentenced for the 1993 terrorist attack on the WTC, he angrily cited the sanctions and the deaths of the Iraqi children as one of the things that drove him to commit his terrorist attack.

That WTC attack in 1993 was followed by the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and, of course, the 9/11 attacks.

We all know what U.S. officials said: Oh, it’s not because of what the U.S. government has done to people in Iraq and the Middle East, including the sanctions and our indifference to the deaths of the Iraqi children, the Persian Gulf intervention, the unconditional financial and military support to the Israeli government, or the intentional stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands. People in the Middle East don’t care about all that. They just hate us for our freedom and values.

Mark my words: they’ll say the same thing if relatives of those two Iraqi children — or the children themselves — end up retaliating for what was done to the children’s father and other victims of the most recent slaughter.

Finally, let us never forget: Neither the Iraqi people nor the Iraqi government participated in the 9/11 attacks or ever attacked the United States. That makes the U.S. government the unlawful aggressor, invader, attacker, and occupier in this conflict, which means that U.S. soldiers have no right, moral or legal, to be killing anyone in Iraq, including those Iraqis who are simply trying to rid their country of an illegal aggressor, invader, attacker, and occupier.

By the way, Joy Gordon, who wrote one of the most insightful articles on the Iraq sanctions, entitled “ Cool War: Economic Sanctions as a Weapon of Mass Destruction” has a brand new book out on the Iraq sanctions entitled Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions. I haven’t read it yet but if it’s as good as her article, it’s definitely a great book.

For a nice compilation of articles on the sanctions, see:

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.


  1. Jim

    April 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I think it should be noted that the Iraqis did not bring their kids to a battle. There was no battle, that was not combat. According to Obama’s definition, that was an act of terrorism as innocent civilians were intentionally killed. Plus, the Iraqis did not come to a battle, the U.S. military brought the uninvited war to Iraq where those people live.

    Parents of U.S. soldiers should be horrified to learn that this is what their children have been taught to do by the military: kill innocent civilians and then blatantly lie about it. That’s called brainwashing. Their children will be damaged for life while severe damage is done to the Iraqi population.

    This is unbelievably shameful and disgraceful and I think Americans should continue to discuss and confront this issue for as long as it takes to stop the killing.

  2. Anonymous

    April 11, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    It makes me sick to my stomach to watch this video. It is so obvious these men are not acting aggressively and in the end to watch a man slowly dying on the sidewalk and then being fired on again as well as the people who try to help him is appalling. Then when I think about who the aggressors are and realize these are the ones who say they are the “good guys” the “victims” protecting themselves, it is obvious how ridiculous this statement is.

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