Geoffrey D. W. Wawro, director of the Center for the Study of Military History at the University of North Texas and a former instructor at the United States Naval War College, said the erosion of the command structure of terrorist and insurgent groups had led them to increase their reliance on the Internet and videos to gain recruits.
American troops, too, have always sent snapshots home from the front, Mr. Wawro said, and digital pictures and video are simply a new incarnation of that.
“This is how the new generation does things,” he said.
“It results in a continued trivialization of combat and its effects,” Mr. Wawro added, “but no one feels completely comfortable saying, Don’t do it.”
YouTube does feel comfortable saying so, however, as does Google Video. Both have user guidelines that prohibit the posting of videos with graphic violence, a measure that spokeswomen for each service said was violated by many of the Iraq videos.
Julie Supan, senior director of marketing for YouTube, said the company removed videos after they were flagged by users as having inappropriate content and were reviewed by the video service.
In an e-mail message, Ms. Supan said that among the videos removed were those that “display graphic depictions of violence in addition to any war footage (U.S. or other) displayed with intent to shock or disgust, or graphic war footage with implied death (of U.S. troops or otherwise).”
Wow. We truly live in a new century...WW1 and WW2 were fought with just the barest minimum of footage from the front being shown at home, and that was tighly controlled by the powers that be, mostly because it could be. If atrocities were commintted like those in the news recently of American troops murdering the civillians they were supposed to "liberating", it could be easaily swept under the rug and kept quiet becasue the media was just not as present as it is today.
The invention of embedded journalists in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts was equally a good and bad thing... Good, for now, Americans and the world could see footage of the actions being taken by both sides without limitations; bad, for nearly the same reasons. Suddenly, the military was not as autonomous as they were in earlier times, they had to answer to the public.
Now our military conflicts are nearly completely out of the hands of the military and in the hands of those that have access to the media outlets. No longer do the press releases come solely from those military leaders in charge on the ground, but also from the journalists in the action with the troops and even sometimes from the troops themselves. This chain of information allows a more egalitarian mode of infomation getting out rather than the controlled method of earlier times. Unfortunately, this tends to make the military look less all-knowing than it did in the past. Again, there are good and bad points to this.
Now, however, we have the new wrinkle of the other side being able to manipulate the media just as well as ours does. And in our video crazed culture, it actually may make a statement. I am not even going to try to figure out what that statement is...
So then comes the whole free speech thing. Should they post their video? Americans post videos of their way of life that can be offensive, if this is what Iraqis are seeing in the streets everyday, then it is just what their lives are like. Should we censor the video footage? That is a personal question, however, if it goes against what the video sharing sites have as clearly defined rules and guidelines, then is it _really_ censoring?