The whole point of the video and the posting, however, was that it illustrated how almost exclusively Shiite forces are beating Sunni residents, and clearing Sunni neighborhoods, with tacit U.S. support. ~Andrew Sullivan

This comes in response to Mickey Kaus, who called Sullivan on what I also consider to be multiple inaccuracies in his posting about a video.  About the video, Sullivan writes:

Here’s a disturbing video showing U.S soldiers watching as their Iraqi Army colleagues - Shia - brutally beat Sunni civilians to near-death, as U.S. soldiers hoop and holler in support. 

It is true that it shows Shia Iraqi Army soldiers beating on captured Sunnis.  They are civilians in that they are not members of a military.  They are, however, apparently irregular fighters who are carrying around mortars.  They are not being beaten to “near-death” from what we can see.  They are being gratuitously beaten, since they have already been subdued and captured, so there is good reason to be less than impressed, to put it mildly, with Iraqi Army discipline.  The video gives the impression that the Shias in the Iraqi Army are failing in the effort to win “hearts and minds,” which I suppose is true and is the far more relevant point to be taken from the video.  However, the clear misrepresentation of the video from Sullivan was designed to give the impression that these soldiers were caught on camera engaging in something close to murder of prisoners and that our soldiers sat there and cheered it on.  That claim, which Sullivan quite clearly made, is false. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if Iraqi security forces have been and still are engaged in the murder of their sectarian rivals, but I assume they aren’t doing it in joint operations with our soldiers.  The video also shows the mutual sectarian cleansing of formerly mixed neighbourhoods, and does not primarily show the “clearing” of Sunni neighbourhoods.  The “clearing” of Sunni neighbourhoods is at best implied. 

Not surprisingly, Kaus is right and Sullivan isn’t.

Update: The distinction Sullivan is fumbling for in his Dershowitzian confusion about what constitutes a civilian is that between combatant and non-combatant.  By anybody’s fair estimation, someone driving around with mortars is going to be considered a combatant because he obviously intends to deliver and/or use that mortar to attack and, if possible, kill in war.  If they were engaged in the beating of random men off the street just because they happened to be from a different sect, Sullivan would have had more of a point.  But, since he got the facts of what the video showed basically wrong, he doesn’t have much of a point at all.