Saturday, May 5, 2012

Don't look away

US Marines allegedly urinating on corpses, and other photographs emerging from the war zones of Afghanistan lead to an increasing strident call for "politically correct" war.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, quoted in The Telegraph:

"These days, it takes only seconds - seconds - for a picture, a photo, to suddenly become an international headline," Mr Panetta said. "And those headlines can impact the mission that we're engaged in, they can put your fellow service members at risk, they can hurt morale, they can damage our standing in the world, and they can cost lives."
The message, which military leaders have also been pushing in recent meetings with their commanders, reflects a growing concern about the broader effects of the widely publicized episodes: the mistaken burning of Koran, images of Marines urinating on Afghan insurgents' corpses and photos showing US soldiers posing with Afghan police holding the severed legs of a suicide bomber.
The most important piece in the article, however, is here:

It is unclear, however, how the entreaties will reverberate across the military and what actual impact they may have on a young, battle-hardened force strained by 11 years of war.

Folks, Americans need to understand something:  there is no such thing as a "clean" war.  It's an oxymoron.  So-called "conventional" wars are inherently cleaner than "counter-insurrection," but the difference is really academic.

US Marines on Tarawa, on Iwo Jima, at Chosin, and at Khe Sanh took noses, ears, and other less mentionable items, and engages in bloody personal tactics designed to terrify and intimidate their enemeis.  And, yes, these tactics often involved racial/ethnic overtones against the Nips, Chinks, Gooks, or other bad names the Marines (and soldiers, and SF) used.

It's called war.  It happened in the Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, ad nauseum ad infinitum.

You cannot send people off to war without dehumanizing them to some extent--at least not if you want them to win, or come back alive.

Which is why, in the early American Republic, war was considered to be the failure of diplomacy and politics--most of the men involved in our leadership actually had some exprienced with it.

Today, when most of our leadership doesn't, we have blithely accepted the twisted European idea of war (foisted on the world by Karl von Clausewitz) that war is simply the continuation of politicts . . . by other means.

In the US today, use of military force is no longer an admission that we have failed at something--it's often a first-choice option.

But it is important to remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said about the US Marines in World War Two, and she was fully aware of the necklaces of ears . . .

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! 

Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

And let's not forget that this starts from the top--because it HAS TO start from the top--with a quote from a US Marine general in Iraq. . . .

I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery.  But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes:  If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all.
Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders

The Marines who urinated on, or otherwise descrated the corpses of their enemies ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.

The people who sent them to fight and die without taking this all into account first, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM--no matter which party they represent:

1 comment:

Dana Garrett said...

I can assure you that I would not urinate on the corpse of someone I killed in a war. I would not desecrate his holy book or display his body parts as if they were trophies. Now I realize that excesses occur in nearly all conflicts (something we should understand in all cases except when it is done by our enemies and then it's too much), but I strongly suspect that the individual outrages are committed by a minority of soldiers (excluding the overall outrage of being in the conflict in the first place).