Sunday, January 15, 2012

Marines trying to stem backlash from incendiary video

There was a very disturbing video that appeared on the web last week. According to Stars and Stripes: 

 "U.S. officials scrambled Thursday to temper backlash from a video appearing to show Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters, an incendiary act that could again inflame anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world.
Top Pentagon leaders issued a series of statements condemning the incident and promising a full investigation into the video, posted this week on YouTube. The short clip shows four men in U.S. military uniforms standing above the bodies, joking and making references to relieving themselves on the dead men."

I know this is just not the kind of publicity the US Military needs, especially when you are engaged in a "winning hearts and minds" effort. But, that said, let's talk about this a little. While I certainly do not condone, excuse or approve of such behavior I think we should remember a few important things before jumping into punishment mode. These marines are taught, from the minute they arrive in boot camp to kill the enemy. They are force-fed a diet designed to turn them into killing machines. That is what you want and need in the soldiers and marines you send to war. Kill or be killed. They are taught to think of the enemy not as human beings, but as enemies who will happily kill us if we do not kill them first. Barbaric, uncivilized? Yes, it is. But that is the nature of war. It always has been and always will be.

Add to that the fact that these soldiers and marines spend every day being shot at, seeing their comrades killed and maimed by snipers, in ambushes and by hidden explosive devices. The pressure on these young men (and women) is enormous. That pressure sometimes gets to much and gets expressed in ways that we would not normally like to see.

Does that justify this behavior? No. But is certainly is a mitigating factor. It must be taken into consideration before throwing these marines to the wolves. They deserve to be disciplined, but lets remember that the purpose of discipline is not to punish but to train and to bring the offender back to good behavior. These marines knew they were doing wrong and need to be corrected but lets take into consideration all of the circumstances. We, as a nation, asked them to go to war and kill. Correction? Yes, absolutely. Punishment? No. Hypocrisy is not the answer.

Live Long and Prosper....

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