Tuesday 15 May 2007

YouTube and whose army?

I see the US military have banned their soldiers from using YouTube, as well as several other websites - including social networking sites such as MySpace. (BBC News: US blocks soldiers from websites)

I think this is appalling. Whatever my views on war and the role of the military (UK, US and weherever), I do think soldiers should be entitled to certain rights. Such as the right to communicate with their family and friends, when they are stationed abroad.

What's more, it seems hypocritical for the US military Establishment to ban their soldiers from using such sites when, as the same article states, "The Pentagon only recently started posting its own videos on YouTube, showing soldiers in action in Iraq in a move designed to reach out to a younger audience and to show the successes of the US military" - ie for recruitment and propaganda purposes.

The excuse given for the ban is "they've (sites such as YouTube and Myspace) had an impact on bandwidth resources and network availability". Considering the sheer amount of money spent bombing Iraq and Afghanistan, I am incredulous that the military can't afford a few more gigabytes of bandwidth for their own soldiers.

In the past, videos from Iraq - taken on mobile phones - have appeared on video sharing sites similar to YouTube. Some of these show the less pleasant reality of life in Iraq, rather than the sanitized view we so often see on the Establishment TV stations.

The ban couldn't possibly be to stifle any news and views contrary to the official line - ie that of Bush, Bliar and the Establishment in both the US and UK - reaching the public gaze. Could it?

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