The recently released video that allegedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of three dead Taliban fighters has provoked a firestorm of criticism around the world. From the White House to the halls of the Pentagon, to newspapers and blogs everywhere, the desecration of the enemy bodies is being condemned.

Yes, it’s horrible. But we must realize that war is horrible, and horrible things happen in war. I am not condoning the actions of these young Americans, but neither will I jump on the bandwagon and rush to criticize.  

Let us keep in mind the brutalities of the enemy they are fighting. An enemy who routinely beheads anyone that opposes them. Not just captured American soldiers, but civilian contractors working to support American military efforts, news reporters, teachers who try to educate women, and anybody else who crosses their path. An enemy that believe suicide bombings of innocent people in marketplaces and restaurants is a valid military action. A brutal, bloodthirsty enemy.

And yes, I know that two wrongs do not make a right. I get that. However, before you pass judgment, I would ask you to think about what our troops are exposed to. They see their friends killed and mutilated, they see innocent civilians brutalized, and tomorrow, they will see the same thing again, and again.

Take a young person, train them to kill, hand them an automatic weapon, and send them off to a daily diet of war’s horrors, and the atrocities committed by an enemy that thrives on unspeakable brutality. Then ask yourself how we can be surprised when occasionally some of them overreact. 

I can hear some of you saying that soldiers in every war see the same things. Yes, that’s true. And there have been soldiers, American soldiers, in every war who have committed atrocities. That’s the cold, hard truth.

But there is another factor at play here, one that few people seem to grasp. In World War II, my father and my uncles fought a war, won it, and came home. In Korea, and later, in Vietnam, most military people went over, did their tour, and came home. No matter how long they were in the combat zone, a year, eighteen months, or for the duration of the war, those soldiers knew that when  they did their job, they got to go home.

But in this never ending war, we are seeing GIs being sent back for two, three, and even four tours. What must that do to one’s psyche? How much brutality can a person absorb and still remain the same?

Before we condemn those Marines, maybe we should think about the government that keeps getting us involved in these no win situations. A government that trains young men and women to kill, that sends them off to die, and then shackles them with rules and regulations that are more politically motivated than for any military purpose. Rules that care more about not offending the sensibilities of the people they are supposed to be fighting to free, than actually allowing our troops to do what is needed to end the war and really free those same people.

A few years ago I spoke to a young soldier who was home to attend the funeral of his best friend, who had been killed in combat, and then he was headed back to Iraq for his third tour of duty. He had just turned 21. Could you endure what that young man had been exposed to, and go back again and again? Because I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I could.

Yes, the actions in that video were horrible. But I can understand why things like this happen. In fact, I’m surprised we don’t see more incidents like this.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

51 Comments on It’s Horrible, But I Understand

  1. Brian says:

    This needs to be put in context and the Degree of “Transgression” properly perceived.
    Horrible? No.
    Disrespectful? Yes.

    If people don’t want to see American Soldiers being disrespectful of enemies who think nothing of and don’t hesitate to use infants as booby traps – Don’t allow those boys to be sent into the Obscenity of war against enemies unworthy of respect.

    I can’t believe that this has been blown into the realm of being called an atrocity. Beheading a journalist is brutal atrocity. Raping a woman to make a political point is brutal atrocity. Peeing on a dead terrorist is distasteful, nothing more. It is Disrespectful. But if those who are in danger of being peed on don’t want that to happen – Behave as if you were a man. Don’t EARN the disrespect.

Leave a Reply