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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sixnationsgirl's picture
I think Eleanor has it right - she nails the ironies and dichotomies of the Marines and servicemen. Respect is everything when we deal with other cultures, ep. those in the Middle East. No matter what the pressures faced by the US, no matter what the impulses of victory ir frustration, this is something just not done to a dog. This behavior is sickening and stupid. Why emasculate an eenmy? Indian warriors did not do this - our people honored an enemy, this is how you gained strength. In the current world, we must offer the respect we would expect ourselves.
rezzdog's picture
Beaver, you may have mis-read. Those were the sentiments of my Marine Corps brothers. My feeling about this? It is unfortunate that the U.S. continues this war.
sundem's picture
Face it. War is not pretty. If someone was wanting to capture you and hack the head off your struggling living body, urinating on their dead corpse seems fairly humane in contrast. Leave our troops alone.