YouTube and War: Dutch Marines Reclaim a Ship from Pirates and Film It
In this unbelievable video, a team of Dutch marines reclaims a German ship from the infamous Somali pirates.
This was (apparently) expert and humane work on the part of the Dutch marines and—the root causes of piracy aside—it's great they were able to reclaim the ship.
But what should we think about footage like this? As Popular Science says, it's "not hard to imagine many more soldiers of the future equipped with cameras so that commanders can have multiple on-the-ground views of rapid response operations carried out in real-time." How much of that footage should the public see?
On the one hand, this video looks a lot like a first-person shooter. Wired's Alexis Madrigal finds that "deeply distrubing." And to the extent that footage like this might trivialize war, we should be careful with it.
At the same time, the more we know about what our armed forces are doing, the more we can do to keep tabs on them, and to appreciate the full moral costs of war and other armed conflicts. That seems really valuable. The Wikileaks video—distrubing though it was—forced a certain amount of accountability in a way no written report could have.
At any rate, it seems clear we will be exposed to more battlefield footage in the future. Perhaps the most important thing is to make sure we're not fooled about its veracity. There are cuts in the video above. Who knows what happened in the footage that's been excluded?