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Jewish World Review
Jan 18, 2012/ 23 Teves, 5772
Critics worse than urinating Marines
Four Marines urinated on the bodies of three Afghans apparently thwarted in their ambitions to shoot off the Marines' heads. The desecrating deed was an abridgment of military rules, and though it's highly dubious, could have an adverse impact on U.S. operations in Afghanistan, but something worse has ensued.
That's the reaction, which, in the overreaching hands of some, has been far more a moral abuse than anything done to insensible corpses. The yelping and screaming have themselves been a desecration, but a desecration of the living, a means of terrifying and vilifying young, self-sacrificing American volunteers already subjected to the endless brutality of a war that's not a war. It's a nation-building process that instead of allowing adequate self-defense, subjects our military to constant sneak attacks by pretend civilians.
There's more context, beginning with the fact that urinating on the dead is hardly unheard of in war, even for Americans. For our ceaselessly savage Taliban enemy in Afghanistan, articles remind us, it is kid stuff.
These people like to strip bodies naked, castrate them and hang them high for all to see, as they did once during the Afghan conflict with the Soviet Union. It wasn't the Taliban, but Americans can remember far worse than urination during our brief intervention in Somalia, when stripped bodies of American soldiers were dragged through streets as happy crowds cheered. Jihadists have also cut off the heads of living Americans as a demonstration of their own humane beliefs.
None of this is to say we should not be better. In fact we are much, much better, and though the Marines were wrong in what they did, their behavior became a supposed, unspeakable horror only because of the omnipresence these days of video cameras and social networking by which acts meant to stay private can end up on YouTube. In this age of the Internet, people all over the world could see a video of the Marines in action while the enemy no doubt saw something more: possibilities for exploitation and further demonizing.
Thus we had Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta wrong-headedly attempting damage control by making a major moment of calling the incident "utterly deplorable." Panetta's real concern clearly was the video, which he said could be misused to disrupt reconciliation with enemy Afghans. A brief statement by someone lower down would have given the Taliban less ammunition.
We're trying to get the Taliban in talks so they will quiet down in return for a share of government when we leave, but listen, they are not about to hang up on these appeasement possibilities. Neither are they about to lay down their arms anytime soon. They want to have as much military advantage as they possibly can when we pull out on a no-matter-what deadline, for they ultimately will not settle for just a share of power. They want the whole enchilada so they can get back to such activities as stoning young women to death for premarital sex and maybe aiding terrorist groups in attacks on the United States.
What should happen to the Marines? They've now been publicly excoriated not only by Panetta, but also Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and all kinds of military brass. The talk has been less tempered than when Iran was mercilessly squashing a public rebellion. Some commentators, trying to show how super-sensitive they are, have mostly shown how utterly inchoate their value system is, but knowledge of their comments still must sting. The Marines must feel their future is done, and treating them like that is far worse than what they did.
I am with Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican who used to be a lieutenant colonel in the Army. He wrote in The Weekly Standard that the Marines' offense should be treated as minor and that one punishment should be for them to sing the Marine Corps hymn in front of fellow Marines after a public apology.
"As for everyone else," he wrote, "unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell."
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
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