The United States has again demonstrated a policy of protecting troops from criticism and reproach; ignoring the more serious matters behind such reproach. Throughout history, warriors have been taught to be insensitive killing machines, and their superiors have overlooked incidents such as the recently “resolved” question of pointless disrespect for the bodies of killed enemy insurgents. As we force our morality and our brand of democratization on remote nations and alternative religious groups within nations, we fail to lead by good example; we don’t practice what we preach. While promoting the Judeo/Christian American tradition, our military prosecutors look the other way when confronted with American brutality and inhumanity.
At issue is the news that United States Marines who urinated on the corpses of Taliban insurgents will receive only administrative punishment for their crude, incitant behavior. Early details of these judicial decisions were reported to the press today, August 28.
Most would consider the boisterous conduct and the videotaped callous urination on Taliban corpses as despicable; deserving of criminal punishment. In a video posted on YouTube and other internet sites last year, four Marines in combat gear are seen urinating on the bodies of three dead enemy fighters, men they had just killed in combat; one Marine looks at one of the bodies saying, “Have a good day, buddy.”
The Marine unit and the members seen in the video, fought together as snipers for seven months in Helmand province in Afghanistan, then returned to home base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in September of 2011, providing some difficulty in bringing them to trial. At the finally convened hearing, one marine pled guilty to the degradation and related posing. A second marine pled guilty to videotaping and to posing for a still photo of the incident, while a third entered a guilty plea for failing to report mistreatment of human casualties, then lying about it. Details as to the fourth Marine seen in the videos and photographs are unavailable. Administrative punishment may include demotion, extra duty and/or forfeiture of pay. Such punishment can stall military advancement, and bring an end to a military career. More specific details of the administrative punishment have yet to be released.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier referred to the Marine behavior as, “Simply inhuman.” Many in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan expressed fear of the possibility of anti-U.S. protests. One Afghan citizen quoted in the local press voiced popular sentiment, saying, “This is an absolutely savage act and condemnable in any religion. First they kill Afghans in their homeland and then they urinate on them. It is not acceptable. We should do it to them.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the Marines’ behavior, “Utterly deplorable.”
This is only one of a number of incidents. American troops, many subjected to multiple deployments, have burned Qur’ans, murdered foreign citizens, and have gone into combat with video cameras attached to helmets for reasons not related to duty. We will probably never know the truth behind the Navy Seal raid on the bin Laden compound. We have failed to question why the body of the killed terrorist wasn’t transported to a land- or sea-based military hospital for identification and autopsy.
In view of the growing hatred of America by many in the Islamic world, and the growing possibility of a new and perhaps justified war on the West based on that hatred, it seems these charges might have warranted stricter sentencing.
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