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It is fascinating what you can find on YouTube

Just came across some footage of a Dutch Apache helicopter gunship facilitating some interesting ‘inter-civilisation dialogue’ with a couple Talibs in Afghanistan.

I find myself watching YouTube more than TV these days.

43 comments to It is fascinating what you can find on YouTube

  • I am sorry, killing people may be an existential necessity, but watching it as entertainment is barbaric.

    How is this any different to the snuff flick of Daniel Pearl?

  • Because watching the technology and methodology in action is fascinating and this former squaddie thinks the profession of arms needs to make no apologies for what it does. If you can’t tell the difference between this and snuff flick of Daniel Pearl, you are a mite confused.

  • the profession of arms needs to make no apologies for what it does

    Absolutely. No argument from me on that matter. However, this footage is presented here as entertainment, the tongue in cheek introduction by the post author makes that clear.

    Killing people is not entertainment, and I label any presentation of it as such as barbaric.

    If you wish to watch the technology in action, there are many examples of test and demonstration firings available for viewing.

    Whatever the necessity behind the act, killing people is NOT entertainment.

  • I guess I am just not as squeamish as you on this. Mr. Cats. Frankly I rejoice at the sight of the armed enemies of my civilisation being on the receiving end of some cool technology. I have seen this sort of thing done live (through binoculars rather than through YouTube) and I found that pretty cool too and a tad more ‘colourful’.

    Personally I do not have a problem with taking some delight in seeing such folks come to a sticky end and if you think soldiers in warzones act with grim surgical detachment when they smoke the bad guys, you are very much mistaken (off-colour humour is a pretty common response).

  • And yet, the “people” in question barely qualify for the title. You’re familiar with Daniel Pearl…do “people” do things like that? Do “people” cut off their 15 month old nephew’s head in front of his mother over an argument?

    Pray do not speak of these animals as “people,” as they have not earned the title.

  • It shows the value of high resolution video. Back in “my day” the problem was not getting the weapons and weapons platform into the general area, it would have been picking out the target so quickly and accurately and and then engaging it with such precision. Hearing the dialogue makes it clear the US team on the ground and the Dutch airmen work well together and the degree of tactical interaction is really quite remarkable.

  • atgw_geek

    that’s exactlyright. i’m guessing the taliban guys on the ground didn’t even see the apache as more than a *potential* future threat way off over yonder, assuming they paid it any mind at all, until it was too late.

  • Julian Taylor

    Sure this didn’t come off Call of Duty 4?

  • Yo. Cat-Counter. You’re absolutely right. This is not entertainment.

    It’s educational. This is justice in action.

    And if you can’t hang, then there’s a rocking chair on the porch for you to rest your tired little bones.

  • orcadrvr

    Cats:
    This video is actually “news”. That is, it shows, in real time, events which many people find of interest. Some people, myself included, take solace in the facts depicted in the video: namely, that evil people have successfully been exterminated before they can murder more good people. Other people, including you apparently, are shocked by the notion that bad people need to be killed periodically. Depicting that (obvious) fact on this video disturbs you.
    It is perfectly possible to acknowledge the inherent barbarity of war, even the necessary wars, while simultaneously hoping for the victory of one side over the other.
    Somehow, you have managed to find moral equivalence between the murderers who hacked off Daniel Pearl’s head and the soldiers who are trying to stop further murders. You are a very confused person. You must have an advanced degree from an institution of higher learning. Nothing else can explain such moral chaos.

  • John K

    I was watching a TV programme about kamikazes recently. It was educational, but I was also pleased when, seeing footage of kamikaze attacks on the fleet, AA fire splashed any of the human bombs before they hit allied ships. Am I meant to be sorry about the loss of Japanese life this entailed, because I have to tell you I’m not.

  • John K

    One more thing, it’s quite amusing on this clip to hear the laid back Dutch guy piloting the Apache. Shame he wasn’t at Srebrenice.

  • Andy H

    Somehow, you have managed to find moral equivalence between the murderers who hacked off Daniel Pearl’s head and the soldiers who are trying to stop further murders. You are a very confused person.

    Not at all, he found equivalence between viewing those events as entertainment which was a misinterpretation of the post (I think), but an understandable one.

  • Andy nails it. And I like Billy’s ‘educational’ take on it, without the sneering though.

    CC: I sympathize. But there is another way to look at it. If you and I are unable to go out and do the barbaric, but necessary job ourselves, we should at least participate by watching and encouraging, when possible. These guys are out there doing our bidding, after all.

  • Eric

    Count me among the rejoicers. Besides, as they’ve said often enough, they love death. So we’re really just doing them a favor. They get the 72 virgins and we have one less IED team to deal with. Win-win o/

  • They get the 72 virgins

    And boy are they going to be disappointed when all they get is a plate of rasins.

    Let me make this clear. There are people in this world who need to be dead, and I include taliban amongst them. I may regret the necessity that we have to expend both blood and treasure to remove people as threats, but I do not regret the threat being removed.

    My attitude is not squeamishness at the thought of war, it is not disrespectful of those heroes who are willing to withstand the horrors and stand on the ramparts between me and those who wish me dead.

    Sure, I regret the taking of human life. It is a pity that we can’t take out these people without killing them, but that is just absurdly unrealistic wishful thinking.

    My problem is with this post, not on the actions it depicts. Whatever the necessity of the killing of these people, it is just plain wrong to treat watching their deaths as a way of passing time while (do I really have to say metaphorically?) chowing down on popcorn and slurping fizzy drinks.

    Alisa and Andy, thank you, you get it.

  • J

    If you go somewhere like liveleak you get to see the footage from the other side. It’s equally educational and entertaining. And the comments after the videos are about as sensible as these ones, only mercifully shorter.

    Lots of people find death entertaining. That’s why so many Hollywood films simulate it in such detail. That’s why traffic slows down at car crashes, and people watch ER.

    The bizarre way these wars are or aren’t reported is fascinating. Each side posting tiny fragments of what is really quite remarkable footage, but each fragment have the same intellectual status as a captured flag or trophy to wave in the air.

    “We blew up a HMMV from a very safe distance and then ran away!”

    “We killed two people in a hut with 30mm cannon rounds from a helicopter!”

    Truly a mighty clash of civilisations!

    Neither significant military events, not heroic or interesting, but what’s nice is that in each case the chaps doing it _filmed it_ so that non-combatants back home could point to it and feel happy.

  • My problem is with this post, not on the actions it depicts.

    I understand too and it is a far from unreasonable view to take. I just do not happen to share it. Call me callous if you wish.

  • If you go somewhere like liveleak you get to see the footage from the other side.

    Yup, I watch them too. But as I am not on the other side, I would rather not see them posted here.

    It’s equally educational and entertaining

    I find them educational but unlike you I do not find them entertaining.

    Neither significant military events, not heroic or interesting

    How do you know? Of course you don’t.

  • I don’t think CC is necessarily wrong for debating the merits of this video as entertainment, as Perry said it’s an understandable position.

    But that’s the beauty of the internet, or television, or freedom of speech in general-

    If you don’t like it, then don’t watch it.

    I think it’s amazing the degree of efficiency our technology gives our military, which allows those who wish it to minimize if not completely eliminate any collateral damage.

    Here I go with another PJ quote- so sue me-

    “Suicide bombing is for losers. Winners don’t need to hijack airplanes; winners have an air force”

  • Lots of people find death entertaining. That’s why so many Hollywood films simulate it in such detail.

    Sure, I go watch Die Hard and Terminator along with everyone, but a fictionalised depiction of killing for entertainment is not comparable to presenting an actual killing as entertainment.

    In the first, no one gets hurt, save maybe the occasional graze or cut finger. In the second, someone gets killed.

    There is a difference.

    Neither significant military events,

    Can’t judge, don’t know the details, so no opinion I hold on this is worth the cost of uttering it.

    not heroic or interesting,

    Both heroic and extremely interesting. Just because I find the context of the posting questionable doesn’t mean I wasn’t fascinated by the clip.

    In fact, one of the most fascinating aspects was the banality of the whole thing.

    but what’s nice is that in each case the chaps doing it _filmed it_ so that non-combatants back home could point to it and feel happy

    Our side films for sound military operational and tactical reasons. The clips being used to amuse and entertain are a side effect. It is only the other side that films them explicitly to incite pleasure and mirth. That is one of the (many) reasons I am on our side.

  • I find myself watching YouTube more than TV these days.

    I was just thinking the same thing the other day.

    YouTube has slowly replaced TV in my life.

    And that’s a good thing.

  • David

    That reference to Call of Duty4 earlier- one of this years top computer games and includes one mission with you directing the fire from a Spectre gunship to help a squad on the ground reach the extraction point. Ypu can switch between Gatlings, a 40 MM cannon and a 105 MM. The display seems more or less like this one (black and white) and it’s fascinating seeing the effect of the weapons, especially the 105 MM. Pure War Porn!

    There was a similar video to this one about three years ago- showing a bunch of Iraqis being shredded by an Apache, albeit in thermal vision with comments from the US airman. I remember being quite shocked when I saw it plus the almost banal way they talked “Their’s one crawling near the truck. Yup You got him. ” It really does make you think about it and I suspect desensitises the watcher somewhat to extreme violence as well.

  • Julian Taylor

    David, there was also some footage from Afghanistan around then from an AC130, which I think probably formed the basis of that CoD4 level. In that footage the crew are given instructions avoid levelling the local mosque (same instruction as you get in CoD4) and finished off by firing at what appears to be several men trying to hurriedly get into a mountain cave entrance.

  • I rarely watch TV these days, other than fresh Law & Order and Spongebob Squarepants. I mostly watch episodes of favorite TV shows uploaded on to websites like YouTube and Broadcaster.

  • Gaius Obvious

    Everyone is missing the fact that no one is killed in this video. They got away. The first Apache rounds fall short, then the second volley hit the perimeter wall throwing up a cloud of dust. Out of the dust, you can clearly see three men running out of the building at the bottom right of the screen as the video ends.

  • In fact the guys on the ground are telling the Apache exactly that right when the clip ends. I feel like I just watched a season finale and I’m waiting for the next episode to see what happened :-)

  • Tom Paine

    Whatever the necessity of the killing of these people, it is just plain wrong to treat watching their deaths as a way of passing time…

    That is because you still think of these things as “people”. They are not… and by their own actions. Among other reasons, I wish to see them efficiently exterminated in order to be certain that they are in fact being efficiently exterminated.

    Killing terrorists is no more regrettable than wiping out plague bacteria.

  • Dave Eaton

    That is because you still think of these things as “people”

    I don’t think you have to strip them of people-hood to realize that in the heat of battle, people kill other people. The moral calculations, for the most part, need to be done before engaging. Not that one turns off moral sense- but the priorities shift on the battlefield, to the expediencies of survival and mission completion.

    It is fascinating. There is, and ought to be, a lot of mixed feelings involved with footage like this. Yes, it is regrettable when human life is lost. But in context, the attempt to take these lives was a grim and realistic response by one set of combatants regarding another (not to draw moral equivalence- I mean to be descriptive, not normative).

    If “my side” does well, I will rejoice without remorse. At the point of contact between them and the enemy, I am no longer concerned with what moral calculation went into the decision to fight. Maybe I think this, or some other, war is wrong or illegal or something else bad. I still root for my countrymen. Is it tribal and unenlightened? Perhaps, but I’m certain I don’t care to conform to ideals of those who want me to transnational, or to see cultural identity as primitive or ironic, so I’m not willing to examine my assumptions for those whose foundational commitments I don’t respect. I’m not calling anyone out on this point- I’m not saying anyone here is some squishy trans-national progressive lefty, just that some of the sentiments I hear can be traced to their pernicious influence.

    It’s too bad people die in conflict. Really. And maybe it is barbaric to watch the deaths of enemies as education or entertainment. That would make an interesting debate, but it isn’t a point I immediately grant. I think it might be good for us and our enemies to get a look at what happens in war. If someone gets what I consider a perverse pleasure (and I’m not drawing the line for anyone, but rather, suggesting that this could happen) I don’t agree that it isn’t valuable still, nor do I cede to any moral authority here, Mr Cat Counter, to anyone to decide what is barbaric and what is didactic. Nor that these two categories are mutually exclusive.

  • but I’m certain I don’t care to conform to ideals of those who want me to transnational, or to see cultural identity as primitive or ironic

    Well that rather depends. I have no problem with the idea of ‘cultural identity’ (it is a fact rather than a option really: people have a cultural identity) but unless there is a good reason for sticking to a given cultural identity that you just happened to be born into, they yes, all too often a cultural identity can indeed be primitive. Feeling affinity with a culture because it gives rather than denies value to the individual (i.e. you) makes sense, and if it does not, it makes no sense to. In short, if your culture does not suit you, roll your own.

    As for ‘transnational’, that still sees things in terms of ‘nations’… I prefer cosmopolitan… a non-national cultural smorgasbord where you pick and chose the bits that suit you.

  • Counting Cats’ sensitivity to the video is exactly what we are fighting to defend. That CC is civilized to the point that he or she can feel empathy for the victims, deserving of death or not, is something to be respected and defended. Not everyone is designed to be the rough men carrying out the death and destruction. I don’t think I’d like living in a nation with nothing but people like that.

    Count me among those who enjoyed the video and the justice meted out to the demented murders below. I’m not chary of using the word “enjoy”, either. Having said that, I’m grateful to live in a nation with people like Counting Cats and all the finer points of civilization they contribute.

  • moptup

    “Let the storm of airplanes continue.” – Mullah Omar Oct 2001

  • Laird

    Yes, it is regrettable when human life is lost. – Dave Eaton

    Sorry, I can’t agree with that as a blanket assertion. There are some people whose deaths improve the world, and we should rejoice when it happens. The only appropriate “regret” is that such creatures even existed in the first place.

  • For some, dehumanizing them is making both their existence and the need to kill them easier to bear. Unfortunately, they are human, and they still need to be killed.

  • I veer more towards CC’s side.

    The dehumanisation of the enemy is exactly what Islamofascists do, what they did with Daniel Pearl, etc. Sure, they started it, but that doesn’t mean we should follow them.

    It’s tempting, emotionally, to go down that route, and one of the tragedies of a war is that the longer the war goes on, the more everyone just falls into that frame of mind.

    I think you have to remember that to Islamofascists, when they executed Daniel Pearl, they were doing no more than “wiping out plague bacteria” too, in their eyes.

    I bitterly loathe the “moral equivalence” meme, but there are times when it is apt, and on occasions like this, it is somewhat (although still mildly) apt.

    Nobody can deny soldiers in the field the right to take this kind of attitude, for in order to get the job done, one has to gee oneself up to some degree, and get in a killing frame of mind.

    But for us in our armchairs to take that kind of attitude is, I think, morally wrong; and it’s still morally wrong even if it’s easy and natural for us to do so (because we have no necessity to gee ourselves up, unlike soldiers in the field).

  • Laird

    Well, George, I’m comfortable for you to feel that way, but I don’t agree. My moral sense doesn’t require me to treat those who have no recognizable moral sense at all in the same manner as those who do.

  • Linked. How come no trackback or did I miss it?

  • Because our trackback is screwed I fear… Samizdata is in the process of a major upgrade and we should have a nice shiny new back-end in a few weeks (and more or less unchanged front end, other than comments, which will get a major upgrade and the return of author archives).

    With a little luck our trackback may well be back on track (arf arf), although I will only keep it turned on if our trackback’s anti-spam defences live up to their billing (inshallah).

  • Laird, I don’t think anyone here has suggested that they should be treated in the same manner.

  • Further to the education aspects of this video, I think what is interesting and important about it is that it shows just how accurate and co-ordinated “gunship attacks” are. When we see the BBC report about the latest Israeli gunship attacks in Gaza, we are (deliberately) left with the impression that the IDF is responding to a few fireworks by destroying a neighbourhood. As this video shows, that’s far from the truth.

  • Windy blow

    Worth remembering that the “other side” posting videos of roadside bombs and beheading captives uses technology that they did not create. Islam creates very little indeed. The Taliban and their shiftless mates despise the west but they are so glad we produce technology they can use to show how the Allah-wankers are in reality.

  • Nick M

    As far as the dehumanization thing is concerned and the detached (I’d call it professional) manner of the soldiers and pilot are concerned…

    Well there is a hell of a difference between whacking someone from several thousand feet and doing it at bayonet length. Now I don’t know if I could drop bombs or fire chain-guns from the air (I mean emotionally) but I do know I’d find it very difficult to stab someone in the face. And decapitating a captive is a hell of a think to do. Did they dehumanize Daniel Pearl? No, they dehumanized themselves because that is a monstrous act.

    Anyway, of course the soldiers were calm and professional. It’s not 1916 and they don’t allow nutters like Albert Ball into aircraft anymore. Certainly not Apaches. Also of course, this is just a day at the office. You think your jobs tough? Well, a bunch of bearded loons aren’t taking potshots at you.

    CC, I think I vaguely agree with you. I remember Gulf One. I saw some footage of an Apache and the pilot whooped it up when his Hellfire totalled a T-72. I could understand the release of tension and that for the aircrew this was like scoring a goal is for a footballer but frankly I didn’t enjoy it. There were a bunch of Iraqi conscripts in that and somehow I suspect that’s a pretty rotten way to go.

    But, on the other hand, I’m somewhat of an aviation buff and I actually really enjoy reading about the real life antics of Spitfire and Sabre pilots. I guess that’s a sort of war-porn. I mean it’s sort of educational but I really enjoy the books too. I think it’s tricky. I remember The Sun’s infamous “Gotcha!” headline when HMS Conqueror sank the Belgrano. Now that was out of order. But I don’t know perhaps that’s because I can sort of feel a bit more common empathy with Argentinian sailors than with complete nutters with a C7th mindset.

    This is natural. In WWII there were a lot of psychological studies carried out. Allied troops were much more sympathetic to Germans than to the Japanese. They were vastly more likely to see Fritz as “just a bloke like me”. Obviously there was an element of racism but… there was also the appalling treatment of POWs, the fanatical banzai charges, kamikaze etc. People who fail to see why Japan had to be nuked generally seem to forget that. I can absolutely see why a Marine on Okinawa in ’45 could fail to see the Japanese as human. It’s the same reason why I don’t agree with cruel and unusual punishments but wouldn’t shed a tear if they burnt Osama bin Laden at the stake.

  • Nick, my feelings are along the same lines. But:

    No, they dehumanized themselves because that is a monstrous act.

    That’s the point I was trying to make earlier: they did not dehumanize themselves. Being a monster is part of being human. There are no real monsters outside the human species. I think it is important to realize this. Those German soldiers really were, for the most part, “blokes like you and me”, and so were the Japanese soldiers. Of course there are degrees of cultural differences, but that is beside the point. The point is that we all are capable of becoming monsters under certain circumstances. It means that we have to do our best to prevent these circumstances from forming in the first place, but failing that, to be prepared to control the monster within us.

    Now, hoping for a lighter note from someone.