Friday, December 01, 2006

When War and Children Collide

Donald Steinberg in a recent op/ed piece in the Christian Science Monitor, warned against the responsibility of society to the children of the earth especially during times of war.

How are US troop relationships with Iraqi children depicted on YouTube?

How are Iraqi children reacting to US Troops?

What seeds are being planted today in Iraq?

How will the children of Iraq feel about the US in 20 years?

According to the article what can US citizens do to protect the children of war?


Superfly said...

First and foremost, I don't think it's appropriate to put children in front of the camera all, particularly when it's propaganda time and you're trying to convince people that something is the opposite of what it is (reference the video of the soldiers with the kids in what looked like a schoolyard and the video of the kid with the roller blades). These soldiers are trying to play themselves up as heroes (and I suppose there's really no other way to go about it is there?) in order to get these impressionable Iraqi kids to support them. This is a very underhanded way to go about things. They're saying "hey, kid, I killed your father and blew up your sewage treatment system and now your water is filthy and you have patchy or no electricity and some of your major cities are practically leveled, but I built you a park and we had a few laughs in the schoolyard, so we're cool now, right? You're going to do what I tell you to do because I'm here to rebuild your country."
But they wouldn't have to rebuild anything if they hadn't knocked it all down in the first place now would they...?

zilbers back said...

I really disagree with what "superfly" said. First of all the soldiers in Iraq arent playing themselves up as anything but soldiers trying to get through their service. Theres always going to be the few who are more cruel than the others and yes that does relay a bad message to the kids in Iraq and it is planting bad seeds, and the soldiers should be more cautious about the way they act, speak and respond to the childrens teasing. Building a playground, you think that playing themselves up as heroes i think its just doing what they can when they can.

Kaitlyn said...

Mr. Brown made a point about the pictures and the videos we saw that I strongly agree with. He pointed out how one video where a soldier was dangling water off his vehicle to kids below and how a still image of that looks great, just like the still images that we watched. Those images might have a backround to them that isn't warm and happy like we were meant to believe. The first clip we saw had a town that didn't look badly damaged and the clothes the kids wore gave me the impression that they weren't living in terrible poverty. Those kids looked happy to talk to the soldiers and didn't seem bothered by their pressence. In the second clip where the soldiers look like they're in some sort or desert area because I didn't see any buildings around. The kids are begging and their clothes were shabby. Those kids looked like they might be living in poverty and one of the kids looked like he didn't want to be talking to the soldiers. I think that soldiers have different responses in different places. A more established town might welcome their pressence, whereas a weaker town might feel threatened. I agree with what joanna said about how it isn't "appropriate to put children in front of the camera all". Kids tend to create sympathy in the viewer, who might have a tainted view of what actually is going on in that place. It isn't right to use kids as propaganda when they don't understand what their pictures are being used for.

W Brown said...

Kaitlyn brings up a point not really touched on in class. Were US soldiers responses to the children different depending on where there found the children? I appreciate this keen observation. How can we as students in a US classroom become more informed on these issues?

vishnell said...

The U.S troop’s relationship with Iraqi children on You Tube is being visualized in different ways. Each video was different because of the troops. The troops are their own individuals and as human, every human acts in their own way.

- In the first video we watched the children laughing and talking to the troops comfortably. The male troops in this video seemed pleasant and were trying to hold conversation with the kids.
- In the second video we saw children begging the troops for certain items. In this video the troop’s jus reacting like this was an every day situation
- In the third we saw one child roller-blading and another child mocking the female troop who was video taping them. The female troop in this video was nice and laughed with the children.
- In the third video is where we saw the troops taunting the children and making them run for a bottle of water. This showed the troops cruelty and their way of having “fun”.

Now with all these videos I see troops reacting differently. In every group there are always the nice ones and the mean ones. You can’t control some people’s actions and feelings. Yeah, the troops should be giving off good impressions for the children but there are some people who seem not to care about how they come off.

I also agree with Kaitlyn about being in different environment results the troops reacting to the children. The way the troops treat the children corresponds to the surrounding they are at. When the neighborhood isn’t so poor the troops seem more relaxed and kind. However where there is more poverty the kids are begging and the troops react as if this was something they were used too and then some troops tease the children. It’s easy for the troops to taunt the children in bad neighborhoods because they know they would do almost anything for some food or water and that is what occurred in the last video we watched.

W Brown said...


You are absolutely correct, lets not forget these are isolated events, seconds of one person perspectives from a war that has been going on longer than WWII.

Being quick to judge is never acceptable. How can we as NYC BOE Students (myself included) get our hands on information? How are we supposed to make informed decsions as citizens without information?

Jason Mangubat said...

Mr. Brown, here is my response: The US troops are friendly with the Iraqi children. They talked with to them and even joke with them. They are talking to them and not afraid to go close directly to them. Hatred towards the US and lack of trust on other people. Hatred because of what they are now. They feel that the US invaded their country and caused trouble. The US citizens can do in order to protect the children of war is rebuliding anything if they hadn't knocked it all down in the first place now if they would, like what "superfly a.k.a. Joanna," said.

carolina barberii said...

Based on what we saw in class and some searching I did on my own I realized that YouTube has a very limited variety of videos. Most videos depict the US troops building playgrounds, playing soccer and simply joking around with the kids. However, there was one video we saw in class that really stood out to me and made me question why YouTube hasn’t deleted it yet for the sake of censoring what may make others look at our troops in a negative light. The video showed our troops taunting Iraqi children and making them chase after a bottle of water. Some children ran for blocks and gave up but there was one, which ran until they dropped the bottle, only to have another child run and pick it up. It really makes me sad to think of how desperate the boy was for a bottle of clean water when we take such things for granted.

In the other videos we watched in class it showed our troops interacting with the kids but the language barrier limited the conversation and what you mainly saw was laughing, joking around and kids begging or “annoying” the soldiers. Though most of the time when the kids spoke to the troops it seemed to be all fun and games you can tell there is a line which isn’t crossed. The children seemed hesitant to make physical contact and resisted getting too close or being seen speaking to the troops.

Based on what I’ve seen I think the US troops are planting bad seeds for the children of Iraq. Imagine the child that loses a parent or a limb or has to spend months on end with out clean drinking water. Sure you can build a million playgrounds but it will never amount to the loss they’ve endured. Anyone in that position would grow to despise the country that was responsible for this, its human nature. Children at that age don’t know any better and only time can tell. I know there are good and bad soldiers but these people are on a mission and unfortunately they’ve succeeded making life in Iraq a living hell. And like Mr. Brown said that’s what war is all about.

I’m not sure how the children of Iraq will feel in the next 20 years because I don’t know what will come out of this war. This can result in two ways, either they appreciate what we’ve “done” for their country or they can despise us for the long term pain we’ve caused them and I really hope it’s the first one because war sucks and I don’t want to deal with this again within the next 20 years.

PS: I found a video on YouTube about a hospital in Baghdad. One of the women being taken out of the ambulance yelled that she would rather have Sadam Hussein back in power because even the terror he caused couldn’t be compared to dying and being injured from bombs going off in the streets. I found that pretty interesting.

W Brown said...


Send the link to the video you found. Was she speaking in English?

Carolina Barberii said...

There are about 4 parts to this video but this is the video that has the woman I spoke about...
Now that I watched a few other ones I'm not too sure where the conflict is coming from either the Americans, Shia's, Sunni's or Al Queda?!?!? Kinda confusing, maybe you can clear it up for me Mr. Brown.

Stephanieee said...

I thought the videos we watched in class were very emotional and moving. The video of the children with the troop on the "plank" was interesting. What stuck out in my mind the most was the little boy standing in the backround looking around as if he wasn't supposed to be there. The second video of the troop teasing the little kids with the water bottle deffinatly got me a little mad. Like Zilber said about how there will be a few who are a little more cruel than the others, this is perfectly correct. I feel the troops were acting immature and selfish especially when he dropped the bottle and another child (who wasnt running) piked it up! The last video we saw (the slideshow) was very emotional. Coming from a family who has been in several wars and one member who will be going to Iraq it's diffucult to see all the other troops in combat. Recently I have been thinking about joing the army. I think it would be deffinatly a good thing to join with the rest of my family, but than in other ways I am terrified b/c i do have the rest of my life to live. We'll just wait and see..

zilber... said...