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.

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51 Comments on It’s Horrible, But I Understand

  1. Chris says:

    You hear of the number killed but not of the thousands who come home with severe head injuries and PTSD that last a lifetime. Yes, war is horrible and ugly, but what is more ugly is the lack of support given to those brave men and women who come home so badly scarred in so many ways. Yes, I too understand.

  2. Joe says:

    Yes it was wrong to do that to those Muslim extremists, but I see it as their way to take out some of their frustrations. After all yesterday they may have watched an ied blow up the soldier they were eating with that morning, or maybe they had just seen a hooded Muslim cut off the head of a reporter on tv. If it helped them get through the day, more power to them!

  3. Deb says:

    I just don’t think it’s that horrible. But I’m sure the gov’t et al will spend millions on an inquiry and a trial.

  4. Kimberly F. says:

    My grandson just turned 22 and is on his third tour now. On every trip home, we have seen the changes in him. He was a normal happy go lucky boy who loved sports and working on his car. He has become more withdrawn with every tour, he is jumpy and doesn’t sleep, he has no interest in anything and he looks like he has aged 15 years. He won’t talk about any of it with his family. The military does’t seem to recognize what they are doing to these young people, and support seems to be nonexistent.

  5. Joyce Space says:

    I think you have stated your point very well.

  6. Linda says:

    So, what do our esteemed politicians expect? You teach impressionable young people to kill and send them over and over again into brutal conditions where they’re hampered from actually winning a war by all kinds of asinine rules and expect them to be all nicey nice to downed enemy. Get real. If our idiotic politicians want to keep getting our country into these stupid wars it should be with the understanding that the military goes in and does whatever it takes to win and then get the hell out. The enemy isn’t hampered by a bunch of rules to make them look good to the world in general and neither should our military. Better yet, those same idiotic politicians should learn to keep their noses out of other countries’ business and tend to what needs to be done right here in our own country. Let the third world deal with its own problems. They’ve been killing each other for thousands of years. There’s no point in the U.S. always getting involved at this late date.

  7. Glenda says:

    Well said! Great comments as well. Could our military personnel have feelings of frustration, fear, disrespect, even hatred for a brutal enemy that’s even happy to die? Maybe the politicians should be content & quiet that “urinating” is the ONLY thing done! I won’t hold my breath tho waiting for the “pop” as their heads come up for air.

  8. Francis Callahan says:

    If you think peeing on a dead rag head how about in WW2 cutting japs ears off and taking out thier teeth that had gold in them GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS

  9. Bill S. says:

    You’ve got to be kidding! You rationalize an arrogant and stupid act of the self claimed highest trained and so called elite marines as just being a part of war? What part of their training told them this was acceptable? Yes, as you said, war is horrible. But this kind of blatant and collective stupidity has nothing to do with what you called the horrible things that happen in war. It was just arrogant and stupid.

  10. Muriel Daniels says:

    Excellent response from Linda! I agree 100% and I’m sure the majority of readers will feel the same. Get out, stay out, and let our young people grow up and live and love doing things in our own country.

  11. Connie Bradih says:

    One of my relatives was with Patton when he make the big jump. They captured Germans soldiers as they went but they had no way to keep them. He said, they took them out behind buildings and shoot them (killed them). He said they didn’t want them returning to the fight.

    He was very matter of fact about it. They were the enemy, they were expendable. So much for the Geneva Convention.

    While urinating on a dead person is probably not the thing to do, it’s war not a tea party out there. It’s kill or be killed. In my opinion, war creates no rules. You fight to win. You destroy the enemy, any way you can. Because they are trying to do the same to you.

    What is sad here is that there will be a big investigation, the soldiers will be in trouble, as well as their higher ups and OBAMA(nation) will get down on his knees and apologize. UGH!!!!!

  12. Connie Bradih says:

    And I disagree about getting out and staying home. ISOLATIONISM does not work. Let’s see, WWII was a perfect example of that. The bullies kept over running countries, we didn’t help and what happened: Pearl Harbor and War in Europe. What if we had stopped Hitler early? What if we had paid more attention to Japan’s aggression? How many American boys would still be alive instead of on the bottom of the ocean, on Pacific Islands or buried in the fields of Europe?

    PACIFISM never works!!!!!!

  13. Barry Crocker says:


  14. Neil Boyle says:

    I agree with most of the comments above. This action is truly a teaching (training) moment but nothing more. These kids will understand as we understand that this was not the right thing to do. I would hope that those who are critical of their actions take a few moments and put themselves in their boots. Try it; little sleep and when they do get some it is in the dirt, no showers for days or weeks at a time seeing their buddies (family) being killed and the civilians they are there helping, for us, being slaughtered. I understand and I don’t condemn. War is hell and this is a training moment only. Nothing negative should appear in these young men’s military records.

  15. Dale says:

    Another thought in another direction: These same type of limitations are utilized as regards our LEOs. In many cities, if something occurs, a police officer is considered guilty until proven innocent.

  16. Janna says:

    Wow, very, very well said Nick! We and our dinner guests were discussing this very same thing last night and are in total agreement with you.

  17. Dave Mingus says:

    Very well said Nick…….I agree!!

  18. Wayne Aanerud says:

    We all know war is Hell. Combat does some thing to your Heart and Sole. Just think of three or four tours. I remember how twisted I was coming home from Vietnam nam after seeing our dead paying the ultimate sacrafirce. Only to be dissmembered. I’m not saying anything right or wrong but shit happens in a War zone Good and Bad.

  19. My uncle and three of his buddies went to Korea as marines. They never talked about what they saw or did.

    But within a year of them all coming home, each one committed suicide.

    War is hell. And the soldiers live it every day afterwards.

  20. Arlene says:

    I bet it happens more than we know. The bad part is that in this day and age, things get posted and circulated around the world so easily.

  21. Mike says:

    Not surprising, the main stream media has blown this out of proportion and, in their never-ending quest for ratings, have turned a stupid prank into an international incident.

    It was a stupid act, an unacceptable act, and those who did it deserve non-judicial punishment — administrative discipline without a court-martial — and that’s it. I don’t think that what they did was that horrible. While I find it offensive, it was a macho, stupid prank by guys often under extreme pressure for way too long. For it to be recorded and then shared on line is even more stupid.

  22. Urinating on those Muslims was the soldiers way of dealing with the autrocities of war. We can’t take that away from our soldiers. They have to be allowed some form of release when out in the field dealing with things that we at home cannot even imagine. What should the government do. Absolutely nothing, look the other way.

  23. Jim Walter says:

    I think the moron who took the video and posted it on the web should be the one punished.

  24. Jeff says:

    I’m with you on this one Bad Nick! If someone disagrees and gets bent out of shape—piss on ’em!

  25. Carol says:

    Thank you Nick for stating the obvious. These young men see atrocities committed every day on their friends and fellow soliders. Urinating on their coprse was a harmless way of blowing off their anger, and ealing with fear, frustrations and sadness. We all said things at work to deal with the frustrations on our jobs that would offended others–we were just lucky no one was recording it. That is the big difference.

    Maybe those who are so upset with what happened should offer to go fight in place of these young men so they could come home to live without the constant threat of death 24/7. It changes a person’s mind. Before thinking the worst of others, try walking in their mocasins for a year or two!

  26. Bill Daines says:

    War is hell PERIOD! Taking pictures or a recording seems to come back and haunt us all the time. I’ve always said if you don’t talk about it or capure it on film you can’t get in trouble. The problem is just exactly what Nick said. Thanks Nick.
    SemperFi. Bill:)

  27. Nevada Dave says:

    Right On Linda & Jeff…..I couldn’t have said it that well.

  28. richard says:

    nick.. you certainly have a way of firing up the knuckle dragging neanderthals.

  29. Sherry says:

    Well said, Nick! I’ve often wondered how police manage to keep their humanity and optimism after being confronted with humanity’s dregs all day every day. Maybe if the military personnel were allowed to upload youtube videos of the opponents’ atrocities, the outcry would help us get over our macho rush to war… Iran is next unless saner heads prevail (and I’m not optimistic about that).

    RV Spirit

  30. Sam Weibel says:

    I remember being home on a short leave during the Viet Nam War and meeting up with one of my high school buddies who had returned after a grueling in country tour,I was so happy to see him but you could see in his eyes the lights were on in the second floor , but nobody was home, About 4 months later Mom wrote and said that he had dusted himself. Sad but that is all to prevalent even today. Sam Weibel.

  31. Robert says:

    I wasn’t going to comment on this because being fortunate to never have experienced the horror of battle and war first hand, I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment on the actions of others who have… That being said, I sympathize with most of the comments here, except for the one about peeing on a dead raghead and japs. The bigotry and categorical hatred those kinds of references imply has to be a major component of what hinders us as a species from learning from the mistakes of our past and advancing to a more civilized society.

  32. bucky says:

    I agree with most of what has been said above, with the exception to Bill S. I think they should draft his butt and send him over there.

  33. Vickie says:

    I agree with Linda and Carol. Don’t criticize if you have never been in a war. No one, except the soldiers, knows the toll that these wars take…especially the wars that never seem to end. And, trust me, these same wars will continue long after we’ve left their country. Let these men come home and live a normal life. The person that posted that video should be ashamed. Thanks for speaking to the elephant in the room Nick.

  34. Robert says:

    Yes, Linda does make some good points, but I disagree with her that just because an enemy isn’t hampered by any sense of humanity we shouldn’t be either.

  35. DAN says:

    In the past your enemy wore a uniform had a country and a reason to do his job. Respect for that enemy. This is now gone. Our political wars have done this.So the reason for war has changed. We can never change a people that has been fighting each other since early biblical times.But we can protect or country. We should place our energy there.Respect our men and woman in uniform bring them home to protect there country at home.
    Well said Nick Thank You

  36. George Stoltz says:

    My first reaction upon hearing the news was: I can understand how they feel and although I think it is wrong, I can’t say I blame them for doing it. But the really stupid part of their actions was letting someone videotape it. I would not want to be the person who initially sent it on to someone else.

  37. Tom says:

    When you have seen what these young men have seen during their time in country, you might also be moved to do the same act when given the chance. The stupid part was recording and posting the video.

    The sad fact is that in no time after we bring all our troops home, the Talaban will once again be running roughshod over the people in the region.

  38. Robert Wang says:

    As a Marine vet of combat in Viet Nam my heart breaks for what these Marines will go through for this act. They knew better and have been trained to keep there actions in check but combat does change a person for life and each person reacts in a different way. These 4 Marines have been subject to way too many tours in the combat zone and anyone judging them needs to walk a mile in their shoes. I hate this war and wish the hell we had learned from the Nam not to interject ourselves where we are not needed. Our mission has long been over-we should have been out long before this. We have seen nothing folks wait till all these ticking time bombs come home for good.

  39. Breck Barker says:

    So, what does some esteemed members of Congress think about the situation?

    I received this link from an Afghanistan Marine vet…. who returned missing both legs and his left hand. Just to put things in perspective…

  40. Sally says:

    It’s ok to kill them but not pee on them ??? I agree the one who posted the video should be the one punished

  41. Paul says:

    I wonder how many people would be upset if those Marines had been urinating on some Congressmen, instead? I think the rich, fat, old men who start these wars ought to be the ones who have to fight them!

  42. Allan says:

    I agree with you on this Nick and I am pleased to see most people also agree on this issue. I hope the military in the field let the men know how damaging their pictures can be to the cause. Ususally people that have spent time in a war zone have a better perspective on war than arm-chair citizens. My tours in Viet Nam give me a high respect for what our military men and women are going through now.

  43. Rod Bahnson says:

    Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army lieutenant colonel, sends THE WEEKLY STANDARD an email commenting on the Marines’ video, and has given us permission to publish it.

    “I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
    “All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
    “The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
    “As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

  44. jack says:

    I served between 1964 and 1972 (ever hear of Southeast Asia) and I would like to see every Congress member serve in the front lines in every war or Police Action that they vote for, until it is over. As for those folks that haved mouthed off here against these Marines should join these politicians, as they have no idea of what they speak. All they have is their so called college and their feelings…I truly feel sorry for America and what she is turning into.

  45. Robert says:

    Then there’s this from a veteran who actually did get shot at by the Taliban:

  46. T & R Martin says:

    Technically, those marines violated the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). As I see it, they are guilty of peeing on the SOFA.

  47. George L says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you Nick. With that being said the real fly in the ointment is the “IDIOT” who Posted the video on the web. He is the one who should be court marshalled. To Bill S you obviously have never been in combat and probably not served your country in the military. So your comment is to be totaly disregarded.

  48. Dale says:

    We take an 18 year old and train them to be killers. It’s hard to kill someone you respect, it mentally helps to hate them and picture them as sub human as this group did. The problem with this war is 99% of the country doesn’t have to get their hands dirty with it, (we haven’t raised taxes for it and there is no draft)so ivory tower judgments over coffee are often, but I’ll say a prayer that these and every other soldier gets all the help they want.

  49. Bill S. says:

    Hey George L: Here’s what a true combat vet had to say:

    So, how are you going to “totaly (sic) disregard” his comments?

  50. Allan says:

    Bill S. I’m not suprised that Huffington Post would come out to try to pin anything on the right wing. People responding to Bad Nick’s blog come from both the left and the right but they almost unanimously agreed with Nick on his statement. I can understand that this incident could upset the Afgans. and our state department and some of the military leadership. This is not the kind of action that should be encouraged and certainly not filmed. The military should make sure that any future acts like this will not be condoned and these men will need to face a nonjudicial punishment, not a court marshal. I understand some of what the military person that was quoted in Huffington was trying to say but I stand by Allen West’s comments. He did not condone these mens actions but he did not think they needed to be thrown to the wolves. If you haven’t been there you wouldn’t understand.

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