Reactions to the Recent Video of Marines Urinating on Dead Taliban Soldiers

Ray Cook, Op-Ed Editor

“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 South Pacific Tour, August-September 1943

As a Marine Corps vet I viewed the recently released video that shows a group of Marine snipers urinating on the bodies of dead enemies. I thought of all the war footage I have viewed over the years of Marines and Army in action from WWI to present and I thought nothing of the recent video. I went about my day.

Of course that was my reaction and having been diagnosed with PTSD 12 years ago I knew I had to check myself, sometimes my judgment is not quite what some would say is “a normal response.” So, I turned to some of my closest Marine Corps brothers for their reactions. The general reaction ranged from, “Uh oh, these guys are toast,” to "What idiot would take a camera and film themselves in a combat zone?”

An older Marine thought that:

"…the problem with today's generation including Marines is that everyone wants to be a star via Facebook and YouTube. This shit comes back to haunt you in one way or another. NCO's and junior officers need to do a better job and maybe collect the phones and cameras until the units get back to the rear area. Unfortunately our EGA [the Marine Corps insignia: Eagle, Globe and Anchor] was tarnished yesterday, but hopefully a lesson was learned."

MSNBC featured an interview with General Barry McCaffrey regarding the incident. The general had the best analysis of this incident that I've seen. He stated that the behavior was not acceptable, but that its importance has been vastly overemphasized by the media, citing such acts as far back as the writing of the Illiad. (I think it was the incident where Achilles dragged Hector behind his chariot.) Gen. McCaffrey also accurately pointed out that the Marine Corps is the best and most disciplined fighting force in the world. Hand salute to Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

A recent Marine vet home from deployment in Afghanistan was angry and frustrated that his sacrifice was literally just pissed away:

Marines are a cut above and we don't do this. I just spent 6 months away from my family there in Afghanistan and they essentially undid everything I, and the others deployed there accomplished with 30 seconds of stupidity.

Sometimes, Marines can be a hilarious bunch, even if it is gallows humor. We constantly look for the bright side of the dire situations we sometimes find ourselves in. And "Jarhead," a Vietnam vet summed up the situation thusly:

"And the winners of the pissing contest goes to the U.S. Marines. End of story."

Another combat vet frustrated by the ignorance of people’s knowledge of war shared this opinion:

"Yeah...i think it is one of those events that make you ask yourself....what would I have done? I’m not sure I would have pissed on them...but who is to say...I don’t know the circumstances, just kill the motherfuckers and quit trying to make “War” socially acceptable...you can’t have it both ways."

And the oldest of the combat vets in the circle summarizes the opinions of his Marine Corps brothers and points his barrel at the media and the consumerism that has wrapped itself around our countrymen like an octopus grabbing its prey:

"A lot of responses and good points made by all who responded to this current situation the CMC [Commadant of the Marine Corps] is dealing with this week."

Errors in judgment by those men? No doubt.

Hard work and sacrifice by others pissed out the window? Literally.

The EGA tarnished? Yes. And, is there a history of such things in our Corps and the larger armed forces? Yes, lots of it.

But at the end of the day, our beloved Corps will dust itself off and carry on the mission. Continue to educate its warriors and strive to not let such a thing happen again.

We’re human and we make mistakes. I think the real test to this will be how our Corps recovers and presses on with its mission to kill our enemies and protect or beloved freedom and our great country, and at the same time, maintain the cut-above discipline we are known for.

This is a clear indication of the times we live in. Mass media is the McDonald’s for our brain’s consumption. Nothing is too far from a video camera or iPad. Easy and fast to produce and distribute for the masses without logical analysis.

Again, I believe the real test here is how it is dealt with and how the CMC and his subordinates react. They must make sure that the future policies ensure, as best they can, that such events never occur again, and that our men and women wearing the EGA are all on board to ensure it never happens again.

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curtj's picture
You should think about why America is mired down in 3 quagmires of our making, 180 degrees around the world. What is the root cause of why we are there? For centuries the European and then American gov'ts have invaded weaker countries to enable their freebooters, thieves, and corporations to steal their resources and lands for colonization. With the enslavement, murder and genocide of the Indigenous people, Our history is the same, the illegal European immigrants invaded our lands, stole and are stealing the resources and lands, murdering and committing genocide on the Indigenous and enslaving the survivors to concentration camps on reservations on the lands the whites deemed worthless. Theft and murder. Our CIA supplied Bin Laden with weapons and munitions in the 1980's while running guns and opium in the 1980's, a la the Iran-Contra Affair. Our CIA supplied Saddamm Hussein with weapons, munitions and the chemicals he used against the Kurds and then the Iranians when he invaded the Iranian Oilfields. The New World Order we heard about now runs our government. The corporations yank the corrupt politicians puppet strings around and like parasites leech off America till there is only a husk left. The military industrial complex, the munitions, weapons, military supply and hardware corporations rake in profits of blood money off the sale of their wares for invasions and propping up 2 bit despot dictator regimes whp subjugate their own people through subjugation, intimidation, terror, rape, kidnappings and murder. When they are successful, the multi national oil, energy and mining conglomerates profit off the stolen resources. America has 735 bases worldwide, 900 per Ron Paul, manned by the military, CIA and mercenaries, dedicated to providing intelligence, logistics and groundwork, to destablize countries to set up dictatorships. This is the policies of colonialism and the reason Americans refuse to acknowledge it is because they are the descendants of the illegal immigrants who practiced those same policies on us and the descendants continue the same policies. Our corrupt, bribed government has no ethics, morality or legal standing to foist our bastardized "Democracy" on anyone.
bintdeeb's picture
Question: Marines pissing on dead people is an outrageous assault on our sensibilities and the morality and values of the U.S. military, but killing babies and other unarmed civilians, including journalists, by firing rockets from unmanned drones or helicopters in the sky is okay?
beaver's picture
Bintdeeb asks if American marines pissing on dead people is an outrageous assault but if killing babies and other unarmed civilians by firing rockets from unmanned drones or helicopters in the sky is okay? Answer: Our babies are peacefully asleep in Iowa, Tennessee, Minnesota and other places like Wyoming. Our civilians are blissfully living in places like Idaho, Hawaii, Oregon or Maine. No unmanned drones or helicopters bother them. But American marines are pissing on dead indigenous peoples in countries that don't concern them.
rezzdog's picture
Beaver, you afraid to die at the hands of your enemies? Then you should not fight, as a matter of fact, you should not show yourself. Stay back with the women. War is for warriors. And, you sir, are no warrior.
beaver's picture
Editor Ray Cook, your ad hominem attacks against me tells me you cannot dispute the points I made, which is why you are resorting to personal insults.
notnek's picture
Those in judgement of these marines without first hand knowledge of what life and death is about in warfare should not stand in judgment. Snipers are trained and conditioned to kill by the Corps . This act is actually nothing in terms of what happens in combat. End of subject.
rezzdog's picture
Beaver, Excuse my personal attack; I just can’t help myself. I often, especially these days, think of my military service and my personal sacrifice to protect certain universal rights commonly held by Indians and contemporary Americans. And, I wonder why I even bothered. Given the history of the U.S. military, there will always be Indians who will argue against serving, just as there are professors railing against those who protect their freedom of speech to rail in the classroom. I prefer to think of our heroes, like Phillip Deere, Ernie Benedict, Vine Deloria, Dick LaCourse and hundreds more, whose right to exist and spread their values was protected while I was on watch in the USMC. Let me put it another way: My service in no way undermines the same sovereigntist line that my uncles and aunts before me protected for my benefit, my grandson’s benefit, my nieces and nephews benefit—and even your benefit, Beaver. My decision to join the USMC was made easy by the fact that my family has a history of serving in combat and, quite frankly, I was attracted to the life-risking challenges that the corps offered a strong, energetic youthful male. Did that make me any less sovereign, or separated from my roots because I chose that way of life for a few years? Absolutely not. (As my FBI file will attest, I also picked up some skills that came in awfully handy when it came time to defend my homeland during the siege of Akwesasne in 1979-1981 and again in 1989-1991.) Oh yes, I also needed the money, and the many benefits that come from serving. Namely, a great college education, a guaranteed home loan and medical benefits that keep me out of the less than adequate Indian Health Service system. Natives join the military service for various reasons. For example, to listen to Jeff Keel, he joined because he loved America and saw that opportunity to reaffirm his love of America, so he became a flag waving American citizen. Good for him, not so good for the Tribes he represents as President of NCAI. But, that is his choice and the choice of the NCAI member tribes. Sometimes, warriors just don’t have the luxury of picking the ideal conflict. I do not identify with those dead Afghans, and not because I’ve been brainwashed by the Feds. I have seen how the Taliban treats their women, I know they have stoned victims of gang rape. Wrong is wrong and I do not care who it involves. Yes, even indigenous people can sometimes be wrong. The views I quoted and related in my Op/Ed are valid. And I stand by my Marine Corps brothers and sisters. I don’t have to like their individual politics, as they don’t have to like mine. The USMC is a proud warrior brotherhood; some day you may have the honor of experiencing what being in a warrior brotherhood means, and to know that someone always has your back.
redwolf48's picture
I'm wondering about why the justified outrage now over this incident in Afghanistan but when those of the 7th cavalry who perpetrated the Wounded Knee massacre urinated into the mass grave on the bodies of the 300 innocent dead Indian elders, women, and children they had slaughtered they were decorated by the government with medals.
beaver's picture
The editor of the opinion columns writes, "I think the real test to this will be how our Corps recovers and presses on with its mission to kill our enemies and protect our beloved freedom and our great country." Take a step back and reflect for a second. "Our corps" and "kill our enemies"? Whatever happened to sovereignty? Since when did Indian nations become enemies of Afghanistan and when did the marines become the military of say the Lakota Nation? And when we talk about "our great country" do you mean the Navajo Nation or the Cherokee Nation? Finally, when we talk about "protect our beloved freedom", do we really believe that tribal people living in caves in Afghanistan threaten the freedom of the most powerful nation on the planet or are we swallowing the propaganda of those who wish to wage wars for the benefit of the capitalists?
duwaynesmith's picture
Although never in combat, I worked with military veterans for about 15 years, many with PTSD, one Korean vet who had been a POW in China for two and one half years and never applied for VA compensation and mental health care until he was almost 65 years old. One thing I learned is that you cannot imagine what it must have been like for veterans in combat. You also can't imagine what you might do in similar circumstances. Wars are different. We have been involved, over the past 10 years, in wars that are very different from WWII. If Eleanor Roosevelt had heard of Marines pissing on dead Japanese soldiers in 1943 she probably would have chuckled a bit and moved on to something else. We all hated the enemy in WWII and the US government promoted that hatred through posters, newsreels and comic books. Now, we are not sure how we should feel about the enemy. Do we hate the Taliban? Should we? Should we hate people who obviously hate us, or should we understand that people in that part of the world have been oppressed by colonial powers for centuries. Should we try to win over "hearts and minds"? "Is that possible? Should we even care or even give it a try? These are the questions a lot of Americans are uncertain about. Given our uncertainty, we will react to this incident in different ways. This is to be expected. Over the past 10 years there has been significant disagreement over whether or not these Middle East land wars were actually in our national interest. WWII gave us the luxury of hatred, but now we are not sure how we should feel. The "luxury of hatred" only comes along when almost all of us agree we are involved in a just cause.