Friday, January 13, 2012

The Real Question

Caption: Screenshot from Live Leak video of U.S. Marines about to urinate on dead Taliban.

Image credit: Screenshot of this video taken and reduced by Cujo359

The video is making the rounds, if you want to see it, it's here, among other places. You can see screenshots here. Personally, I've seen all I want.

There are people, like the sad excuse for a human being CNN hired as its Tea Party viewpoint who think that things like this are just dandy, and what's everyone's problem? Needless to say I disagree with this point of view.

On the other hand, I am neither shocked nor appalled by it. This sort of thing is going to happen in a war. Behavior like this, as disgusting as it is to us, isn't unknown in warfare. I've never been in combat, so I can't speak to what that's like. But I know my own personality well enough to know that if a group of people scared the hell out of me, making me fear for my life or the life of someone I cared about, and then I had a loaded weapon placed in my hands and the chance to deal with the problem, the results would not be pretty, nor would the aftermath.

So I can't condone those Marines' behavior, but I understand it. I think this video should be required viewing for anyone who wants us to go into another country and fight another war, because things like this will inevitably be done by, and to, our soldiers. The only difference between now and wars past is that there are so many cameras around.

One of the things that affects my judgment, of course, is that I'm not a "spiritual" person. As a secular humanist, I view the end of life as being a person's death. I'm not too interested what people do with my body after I'm done with it, though I'd certainly prefer people didn't piss on it. Maybe it can be used for scientific purposes, or maybe some organ can save someone's life. Yes, I'm an organ donor, and have been since I got my first driver's license eons ago.

That's why there's a more important question that occurs to me when I think about that video, which is why those bodies are there in the first place. I'm not talking about the particulars of the firefight that led to their deaths. I'm talking about why our young people are over there killing their young people.

The World Trade Center was destroyed ten years ago. The people who planned and executed that event including Osama bin Laden, are now dead, or wishing they were. We've been blowing up Afghanistan, at tremendous cost, for a decade now. We've killed a whole lot of Taliban, and a whole lot of people whose only mistake was to get in the way. They're not going to let a bunch of religious fanatics have a base in their country again to attack us or anyone else who is capable of coming back there and doing it again.

When I look at the political situation there, it looks like the only choices for Afghanistan are to be run by the corrupt band of drug-financed warlords, or the religious fanatics who are trying to displace them. I don't know if I'd think that was a choice worth fighting over if I were an Afghan. I'm certain it's not a choice I want us fighting over, and no one's proposed a better one.

We're not making the place better. We seem to be doing nothing more than creating more rubble and more bodies.

So, as an American and a human being, that's the question that comes to mind when I see things like that video: Why are we sending our kids over there to kill their kids? What's the point?

When someone comes up with a good answer to that question, I'll start worrying more about what happens to the bodies. For now, I'd just like it if we stopped creating more.


Amelie said...

I am secular too and I do not think corpses are all that sacred. My problem with this whole thing is the arrogance. If they can't respect the fact that the person was a (now harmless) human being, and if they can't imagine some family member may want to see their loved ones for one last time, they should not be sent to "defend" our interests. Also what kind of person does this? Someone with too much power and not enough self-discipline.

Great post, wish you were on WP so I could add your blog.

Cujo359 said...

If there is anyone I would not describe as having too much power, it's enlisted soldiers in a war zone. They have little choice in a great many matters, which often includes when and where they sleep and eat, and under what conditions. I have to assume that the dead Taliban were hostiles in some way, which means that quite possibly, they'd been trying to kill those Marines, or some of their comrades. There may not be enough discipline when it comes to how they treat bodies after they've killed them, but under the circumstances I'm not the least surprised that this has happened.

That's especially true when it seems like most of us only pay attention to what's going on in Afghanistan when something like this happens.

This is something I hadn't realized about WP. Dusty is on WP now, you might want to ask her how she manages.