The USMC Urination Kerfluffle
As you're likely aware a video was made public this week that shows some Marines peeing on what looks to be bodies of deceased enemy. Predictably, some people are rushing to pass judgment and condemn those Marines. In my opinion too much is being made of this and we will soon be excessively punishing these guys. Let me make a few points we should be able to agree upon:
- War is Hell. That is not just an old saying, but a profound truth.
- Our soldiers and Marines have made multiple war zone deployments since the start of the War on Terror. We have asked them to endure incredible hardships.
- They have killed the enemy and seen friends die and suffer severe injuries. That affects a person in ways the rest of us can not fully appreciate.
- During every war, combatants relieve stress in ways that would be abhorrent to those of us back in civilization.
- Desecrating a corpse is clearly bad, disgusting and wrong and they shouldn't have done it.
- Just as we didn't need to hear every misdeed in wars past (and don't doubt for a second that the war fighters in the "Greatest Generation" relieved war fatigue or stress in horrific ways as well), we did NOT need to find out about this minor transgression.
- In the 21st century anyone with a cell phone is a potential camera man ready to document the good and the bad.
- The video should never have been uploaded to the internet.
Having said all that, we are left with the fact that the video got shared online and you can't put that genie back in the bottle. Our politicians are certainly breathing down the military's neck demanding swift and dramatic justice. In a just world, the "buddy" who put the video online would be the only one facing any retribution as he not only betrayed his comrades, but also clearly helped Taliban recruiting and gave them justification for future actions on their parts. We don't live in a just world and this traitor will be hailed as a courageous whistle blower. BS! If he wanted to blow the whistle he could have gone up the chain of command and reported this misbehavior. If he had done the right thing those men would likely have been chewed out and given appropriate punishment (restriction to barracks, loss of pay or rank, etc) and they also would have been afforded counseling to see if they were adjusting properly to returning to civilization. Now, they will probably face career ending Courts Martial level punishment as the Generals will sacrifice these men to appease angry and appalled civilian "leadership." Our politicians will go over board to make the case that what these guys did is not in accord with our value system. well, no kidding. Guess what? Shooting people is not in accord with our value system either. We send our military people off to foreign lands to do ugly stuff and then act horrified to find out they did ugly stuff we didn't specifically ask them to do.
Lastly, so no one thinks I'm justifying war crimes and excusing any and all behavior let me be clear I definitely am not. There are of course rules of war to preclude raping, plundering and pillaging and to protect innocent civilians. Our soldiers should be re-instructed on those rules before deploying and violations should be dealt with when identified. However, I maintain this is not similar to My Lai where civilians were slaughtered. This was nothing more than stressed out men relieving themselves on dead enemy combatants.