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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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.