Friday, January 13, 2012

Is it wrong for U.S. troops to urinate on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters?

Well, of course.

But I thought the troops could do no wrong. Ever. Isn't that what we hear constantly from the armchair militarists on the right (not just in the U.S. but here in Canada as well)?


In all seriousness, this is, needless to say, horrible:

A video showing four United States Marines urinating on three dead Taliban fighters provoked anger and condemnation on Thursday in Afghanistan and around the world, raising fears in Washington that the images could incite anti-American sentiment at a particularly delicate moment in the decade-old Afghan war. 

(I'm not going to post the video here. You can find it by clicking on the links below.)

Look, I do generally respect the men and women in the armed forces, even if I usually don't agree with the missions they're on, nor with the warmongering political leadership that directs them, and even if I don't their generally right-leaning political views and outlook. And I certainly wouldn't hold the deplorable actions of a small handful of them against the rest of them. There are rotten apples everywhere.

But I think it's fair to ask: How much of this sort of thing is going on? If not urinating on corpses, how about violence against innocent targets? I understand that anything can happen in a war zone, and that it's unfair to expect those in combat to behave completely as if they were at home, but there are lines that just mustn't be crossed. And both the military and its civilian leadership would do well to do everything they can to prevent this sort of thing from happening. (Not just from being made public, from ever happening.)

Thankfully, the Pentagon is reacting strongly to the incident, with Secretary Panetta "condemn[ing] it in the strongest possible terms" and ordering an investigation. Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, has also ordered an investigation.

And it's not just a horrible incident in and of itself. As Yochi Dreazen writes at The Atlantic:

The Afghan video is of particular concern because it has the possibility of becoming one of the dominant images of the war. U.S. night raids of Afghan homes, and inadvertent killings of Afghan civilians, are the primary sources of anti-American feelings within the country, but they've never been captured on film. The laughter and smirking of the Marines as they urinate on the corpses is also likely to further offend Afghans already disenchanted with the U.S.-led war effort in their country.

For all this, though, including the obvious damage to America's credibility and moral standing, as well as to the military generally, it's hardly surprising that some conservatives are actually cheering this on, defending the Marines. Talk about deplorable.

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  • A small thing compared with Abu Graib and at least the pissed-upon were dead in this case, but a big, big thing in the hands of America haters. It reminds me of the ear collectors during the Vietnam war.

    Too much more of this sort of thing and eventually some people might feel a cynical mood coming on when we're reminded, as we constantly are, that everything 'da troops' do is "defending our freedoms" no matter how barbaric it might seem.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 10:03 AM  

  • this is ridiculous. if it is true . because such type of vedios can be produced very easily. but if it is true then we can say the American govt. is not known very much about the human rights and very inhuman.

    By Anonymous Sher Khan, at 11:02 AM  

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