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Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015

Don't judge the Marines too quickly

Saturday, January 14, 2012

By now you've probably either seen the video, or at least heard some second hand account, of the four U.S. Marine soldiers who appear to be urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters.

It's shocking. It's uncomfortable. And in hindsight, it certainly seems below the standards that we set for our American soldiers.

I can't think of a viler thing to do to a person.

And there are a great many politicians, action and defamation groups, and even many military administrators calling for swift and strong action against these four members of our armed services.

Can't say as I disagree that there should be some form of punishment as the behavior is certainly against military code and without a doubt unbecoming of a soldier wearing the American flag on his uniform.

Now, with all those things said, I would caution all persons looking in at this behavior from the comfort they are providing us by securing our American borders, to walk a mile in their shoes before casting judgment.

These young men have been removed from their loved ones and dear friends, sent halfway around the world, to a land where they are despised, to try and stop an enemy that doesn't fight by the rules. Though I can't be certain, I imagine at least one of the these men have seen some pretty horrific things committed at the hands of the Taliban soldiers.

Local citizens tortured, raped and murdered to instill fear and compliance. U.S. soldiers dragged through the streets in celebration, some still hanging onto life. Civilians hung from overpasses. Lifeless bodies in a village courtesy of a suicide bomber.

The soldiers have seen and experienced things that most of us can't even imagine. And yet they continue to have to fight a guerrilla war, utilizing rules and a code of conduct not observed by the enemy, putting them at a distinct disadvantage.

After a firefight, with a group of Taliban soldiers, who would have beheaded them with glee had the outcome been reversed, a small group of Marines took a moment to show their lack of respect for the fallen combatants.

I can't imagine a more graphic image depicting the phrase, "war is hell."

At the same time, I'm not going to cast judgments on a group of men who risk their lives on an hourly basis to ensure that these Taliban animals die in a dirt hole in Afghanistan, rather than die behind the controls of an airplane, slamming into an American building filled with civilians.

I can't begin to imagine what these soldiers have been through. I'm guessing that when they committed this offense against the Taliban dead, they didn't really think it through. It was a reaction in the moment following a battle.

If you've never been in war, watched your friends shot to bits, or experienced the horror of combat, be careful the strength of your indignation.

Punish them, but take into consideration their service and the place where they were mentally when the action was committed.

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It is likely these men were caught up in the moment, and as you say did not think their actions through. That said, they should be awarded medals.....pity that there was video.

-- Posted by Culture Warrior on Sun, Jan 15, 2012, at 8:56 AM

I'll take flack for this but I think soldiers already get the benefit of the doubt as "heroes" too much of the time, and being caught up or making excuses about being away from families doesn't really excuse such behavior, nor does it make someone a "hero" for traveling to a country to mindlessly take orders to kill people who pose no real threat to Americans who aren't trying to kill them. A great many are there or have been there because they want to help and truly believe they're doing good. Their bravery should be awarded. But passes should not be given to those who are apathetic to the morality of the situation or who exhibit psychopathic behavior such as this. Giving them a pass and a medal for their "bravery" and "service" which has actually made the situation much worse and bred more hatred and then allowing them to come home and maybe eventually become police officers as many do isn't an intelligent position to take.

-- Posted by jlees on Sun, Jan 15, 2012, at 1:12 PM

Who bloody cares if these Marines peed on the dead ENEMY? Its easy for REMF's to be armchair critics about the HELL those guys went through. All the critics quickly forget how those bodies of those tortured, dead Americans were dragged through the streets of an Iraqi city and hung up for all to see. Keep things in perspective. Peeing on a dead enemy soldier or soldiers is a small thing in comparison. Yes it is. I don't care where one is from.

-- Posted by SSGM270 on Mon, Jan 16, 2012, at 3:57 PM

I'll say three things as a person with a sort of insight into this situation:

1. No, these Marines should not be given medals. Medals are for valor in combat or exceptional leadership. Can a valorous leader make a mistake in the heat of the moment? Yes. However, these Marines did not meet the requirements to earn medals, so they should not get them now. Giving medals/honors to every servicemember who deploys overseas takes away from their meaning. And speaking of the word "hero"- most of these men (and women) shy away from the word. It is a job, albeit a job that most cannot/will not do.

2. If you think this sort of thing doesn't happen at least occasionally (especially after comrades in arms/close friends are killed), you're crazy. No, frequency does not equal morality. However, I don't believe many of us have experienced the feeling one has when you see a close friend and battle buddy killed in action and then have to capture their killer. The best of us, in that situation, would not have to become "psychopathic" to be tempted to kick an enemy while he's down, so to speak.

3. As others have mentioned, we do need to keep the outrage in perspective- these Marines were not dragging enemies through the streets, decapitating them on videotape, etc. What they did showed lack of foresight, to be sure. The thing that angers me, to be honest, is that they recorded it. Insurgent groups have already expressed their outrage and vowed revenge, which is disheartening for servicemembers (and their families) about to deploy. I know it makes me a little uneasy.

Punish them to the fullest extent allowed by court martial, but do not let the media sensation/talking heads calling for the proverbial heads to roll sway the proceedings.

-- Posted by notinia on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 2:35 PM


So because they went through hell, that gives them the right to desecrate the dead, enemy or not? Next, here's what your argument sounds like "But mom....they did it to us first!" Since you want to rant like my six year old I guess I can tell you the same thing I tell him. Just because somone does something to you doesn't mean you do it back to them. Basically what you're saying is that since they did something we can do it too? What happened to being held to a higher standard? Or would you just care to admit that sinking to that low of a level is something you are ok with? I am proud of our men and women who serve in the armed forces. I don't condemn them for what they did. It was a poor choice and makes me a little sad. While you're keeping things in perspective, take your obvious emotion out of the situation and ask yourself if you'd be proud of your son or daughter pissing on a dead body, enemy or not. I know I wouldn't be if that was my child.

-- Posted by lastsonofoa on Tue, Jan 17, 2012, at 9:47 PM

Courts Marshall them? What a stupid Idea. For urinating on a DEAD ENEMY!?. While I wouldn't throw the Marines a parade, I think they should be given a verbal reprimand and sent on their merry way to continue the mission.

Semper Fidelis Marines.

-- Posted by SSGM270 on Tue, Jan 24, 2012, at 3:44 PM

SSGM270, if that's what is legally required in such situations, it needs to be done.

-- Posted by notinia on Wed, Jan 25, 2012, at 10:09 AM

Not for urinating on a dead enemy, for urinating on a DEAD BODY. The fact that it is the enemy doesn't make a difference. People clamor to hold the armed forces in high regard, but seem to forget that they need to "act" and "conduct" themselves in a way that deserves that high regard. I don't respect anyone who would sink to urinating on a dead body. You don't have to respect the enemy to have respect for a human life, and that's what these soldiers missed. They acted no different than the people they were fighting. So what makes them any better than the enemy in this situation? I will agree with you that a court marshall might be a little extreme, but a verbal warning is not nearly enough. I think what is bothering me the most is not what the soldiers did, but lack of humanity SSGM270 shows in his defense of what happened. From what I can see SSGM270 is ok with whatever they did because it happened to the enemy. Holding yourself to a higher standard is tough, and not resorting to tactics or actions that the enemy would is the basis of respect. This situation paints these soldiers as trained, heartless killers, not people charged with a duty to defend and promote justice. They painted that picture themselves. They showed a severe lack of respect and humanity. It doesn't make them what they appear to be, rather it amkes them the victim of bad judgement. Unfortunately people get punished for bad judgement. What they did was "conduct unbecoming". I think a dishonorable discharge and some form of punishment is in order.

-- Posted by lastsonofoa on Fri, Jan 27, 2012, at 1:16 PM

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Randy Cauthron
One Man's Perspective