Category Archives: War

Soldiers urinating on corpses: just bad apples! Not our fault!

Sebastian Junger at The Washington Post on the US soldiers who urinated on the Taliban fighters they’d killed:

There is a final context for this act in which we are all responsible, all guilty. A 19-year-old Marine has a very hard time reconciling the fact that it’s okay to waterboard a live Taliban fighter but not okay to urinate on a dead one.

When the war on terror started, the Marines in that video were probably 9 or 10 years old. As children they heard adults — and political leaders — talk about our enemies in the most inhuman terms. The Internet and the news media are filled with self-important men and women referring to our enemies as animals that deserve little legal or moral consideration. We have sent enemy fighters to countries like Syria and Libya to be tortured by the very regimes that we have recently condemned for engaging in war crimes and torture. They have been tortured into confessing their crimes and then locked up indefinitely without trial because their confessions — achieved through torture — will not stand up in court.

For the past 10 years, American children have absorbed these moral contradictions, and now they are fighting our wars. The video doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me incredibly sad — not just for them, but also for us. We may prosecute these men for desecrating the dead while maintaining that it is okay to torture the living.

I hope someone else knows how to explain that to our soldiers, because I don’t have the faintest idea.

Hysterically punishing these individual young soldiers is of course much easier than actually addressing the much more serious problem of the behaviour of those who sent them there, so let’s ignore everything Sebastian just said. BAD APPLES! NOT OUR FAULT! NOTHING WE NEED TO CHANGE ABOUT OURSELVES!