Marines Piss on Taliban Dead: Understanding War Crimes

Understanding the outrageous.

The video of what appears to be four US Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters has gone viral.

BBC had me on a bit ago to discuss this for their domestic channel and “BBC World” and snippets of it should appear on “World News America” on US PBS channels at 4 and 6 Eastern.

The outrage expressed by Secretary of Defense Panetta, Secretary of State Clinton, and other official spokesmen is genuine. Presuming this is authentic–and there’s no reason to think otherwise, as Panetta and Clinton have acknowledged–it’s quite probably a war crime. It’s certainly a violation of the values of the United States Marine Corps, the country they serve, and basic human decency.

It’s especially outrageous coming from US Marines, whose ethos demands that they risk life and limb to recover their own fallen comrades-in-arms. They certainly knew how literally pissing on the dead would be perceived.

These Marines will certainly be punished, quite severely, for their actions and rightly so.

But, while saddened by the video, I’m not surprised. Such incidents happen in war. They always have and always will. The difference, of course, is that they now get videotaped and can go viral on the Internet in a matter of hours.

Militaries take decent young men and women–mostly men–and train them to kill other human beings on command. Remarkably, they’re supposed to kill members of the opposing force without hesitation while at the same time taking a high degree of personal risk to safeguard noncombatants–including enemy fighters who have surrendered and/or are injured and out of the fight. More remarkably, achieving this seemingly absurd standard is the norm.

In order to kill people you’ve never met and who have done nothing to you other than being born in another country, one has to dehumanize and vilify the enemy. They’re given derisive nicknames, made the butt of dark jokes, and every cultural difference exaggerated.

In the cases of the recent wars Americans have fought, that often takes on uncomfortable racial, ethnic, and religious undertones. But it happened in World War II, when the enemy (in the European theater, at least) could well have been a not-too-distant relative, too.

So, it’s regrettable but hardly shocking that occasionally this coping tool spills over into horrific actions that even most other warriors in theater will condemn.

While these incidents are far too frequent, they’re still exceedingly rare. Hell, even the Taliban’s leadership seems to understand that, having already declared that this won’t impact negotiations. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t extract whatever propaganda value they can out of the video, which certainly lends ammunition to those who want to believe America is at war against Muslims.

Further, it can’t help but undermine support for the war effort here at home. It just adds to the notion that something very ugly is going on “over there” and that it’s time to bring it to an end.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I agree that it’s outrageous, a violation of human decency, and a slap in the face of our values and the values of our military. However, my understanding is that what the various conventions and protocols to which we are signatories prohibit are robbing the dead and mutilation of the dead. Whether it’s a war crime or not may depend on the interpretation of what constitutes mutilation.

    The general spirit of the conventions is that respect should be shown for the dead. It’s clearly a violation of that.

  2. Ben Wolf says:

    @James Joyner

    I agree. You can’t take an 18 year old who just got out of high school, give him a gun and then expect him to be a paragon of nobility, virtue and cultural sensitivity. I would tend to be far more harsh with an officer if one is found to have been involved. They are and should be expected to know better. In fact I’d like to know where these guys’ CO was at the time this happened.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Ben Wolf: The CO can’t be everywhere. Snipers, especially, operate in small units with substantial autonomy.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Good piece James, although I imagine you’ll take some flak.

  5. Drew says:

    I can’t imagine anyone arguing with James combat perspective or Bens maturity perspective. But speaking of perspective – and yes I’m going political- what will be the media reaction to this vis a vis bush era coverage?

    No need to answer, I already know.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    You can’t take an 18 year old who just got out of high school, give him a gun and then expect him to be a paragon of nobility, virtue and cultural sensitivity.

    Sure you can. The pages of history are filled with people who were fully adult at age 18 or earlier including being “ a paragon of nobility, virtue and cultural sensitivity”

    What you can’t do is expect the military to instill those virtues in thugs and the feral. I think this reflects a larger societal problem.

    However, as James suggests in the body of his post war does bring out the worst. It can’t and shouldn’t be condoned but it can be understood.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    As the owner of a well dog-eared copy of “With the Old Breed” by Eugene Sledge, I find it hard to get too terribly upset about this. Was it stupid? Yes. Unnecessary? Yes. Dehumanizing? Yes. But then that is just what war does; it dehumanizes all parties and their psychies (sp?) most deeply. In a war without any apparent end, I am only surprised that we do not have more these incidences.

  8. John D'Geek says:

    In order to kill people you’ve never met and who have done nothing to you other than being born in another country, one has to dehumanize and vilify the enemy.

    While this certainly does happen, it doesn’t have to happen. I vividly remember stories of WWII soldiers who came to grips with killing other human beings by dissociation rather than dehumanization* — they were shooting uniforms, not people.

    * — Some might (perhaps rightly) say that I’m “nitting” here. I consider the two to be drastically different.

  9. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler: I’m not saying they can’t be paragons, I’m saying I consider it less likely an exceedingly young man without anything approaching an education will be one. Immature male humans are usually pricks.

  10. mattb says:

    @Drew:

    what will be the media reaction to this vis a vis bush era coverage?

    The one difference is that the two major bush-era stories of “war crimes” – waterboarding and abu garaib – took place within institutional structures and involved CO’s. So you’ve just done an apples and oranges move there.

    As James said, the structure of snipers makes this for the moment an isolated incident. Now if more videos surface of more sniper units then there will be a bigger problem.

    The other issue of course is that with the Bush administration, there was a lot of work done by conservatives to draw a strong link between the administration and the military. With Obama, as late as a few days ago, conservatives push the idea that he hates the military. And that makes it harder to simultaneously link his administration to misdeeds within the military.

  11. Eric says:

    While these incidents are far too frequent, they’re still exceedingly rare. Hell, even the Taliban’s leadership seems to understand that, having already declared that this won’t impact negotiations. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t extract whatever propaganda value they can out of the video, which certainly lends ammunition to those who want to believe America is at war against Muslims.

    That is exactly what many people (and in this case, the soldiers committing this act) do not understand about an enemy. People will get mad when respect and dignity is shot right out the door and they may react in a horrible way. The idea that, “if you kill a terrorist, a couple more will pop out the next day” is real and has happened. Family members that are told their mother, daughter, brother, son, father, sister, husband, cousin were killed by the enemy (in the middle East, American forces) will get mad and they may join the Taliban cause or help other terrorists.

    Thank God that the Taliban is not pissed off as much as I thought they would, but this incident will be used to recruit more terrorists and it can turn ugly for many people in the immediate future.

  12. Dave Schuler says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    The societal problem I’m referring to is an unnatural prolonging of adolescence. The age at which one is considered an adult was once in the late teens or early 20s—just the age of most of our soldiers. It’s getting so that people in their early 30s aren’t thought of as adults.

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    I’m sorry but this stuff has happened since the invention of war and will happen as long as there is war. You can’t just give a guy a gun and tell him to go out and kill people – you have to dehumanize the enemy. It’s no different than what the Taliban does. If you don’t like it don’t start wars especially wars of choice.

  14. Hey Norm says:

    The tragedy is that:

    “…These Marines will certainly be punished, quite severely, for their actions and rightly so…”

    While the people who institutionalized torture, as Drew correctly pointed out, will not.

  15. anjin-san says:

    No need to answer, I already know.

    You are such a victim Drew. All conservatives are victims. It’s true. There is a vast left wing conspiracy.

  16. Rob in CT says:

    My gut-level reactions to this:

    1) It’s ugly.

    2) It may be a war crime, but there are war crimes and then there are War Crimes. These guys were already dead. One should of course not desecrate corpses, but the “victims” of this particular crime were already dead. My main concerns are the mentality of the soldiers doing the pissing and the PR fallout.

  17. In order to kill people you’ve never met and who have done nothing to you other than being born in another country, one has to dehumanize and vilify the enemy.

    Maybe the solution is to stop sending our soldiers out to invade other countries that aren’t imminent threats to ours. Then our soldiers won’t keep running in to people they have to kill without naturally wanting to.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    It’s getting so that people in their early 30s aren’t thought of as adults.

    The really sad thing is that so many of them aren’t…

    (couldn’t resist)

  19. ed says:

    The rapturous glee that Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson, Victor Davis Hanson, and other vicarious tuff guy, chickenhawk, war-mongers still savor from this video must be immeasurable.

    (Pretty much agree with Mr. Joyner on this one.)

  20. anjin-san says:

    A quick look at the Fox News, CNN, MSNBS, & NY Times homepages shows they are all carrying the story above the fold.

  21. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler: You have a point.

  22. PD Shaw says:

    @John D’Geek:” they were shooting uniforms”

    That alludes to an additional problem in the conflict; I’m assuming the Taliban were not wearing uniform. I think implementation of a code of personal and institutional honor for war and the rules of war is difficult when facing irregular forces using nontraditional military tactics.

  23. pangloss says:

    Only time I’ve heard about this particular variety of war crime was via Studs Terkel’s interviews with the gentle ornithologist Sledgehammer. Sledge recounts, on Okinawa I think, some of his fellow Marines pissing into the mouths of dead Japanese after they had pried their gold teeth & fillings out. Sledge declined the after battle activity. Never heard or read any similar incidents occurring in the “white” European war but suspect they are numerous in wars that have a strong racist tone to them, body parts from Vietnam for example.

    Studs’ interviews are here – I can’t remember which part it was in: http://www.studsterkel.org/gwar.php

  24. Dave Schuler says:

    @Rob in CT:

    These guys were already dead. One should of course not desecrate corpses, but the “victims” of this particular crime were already dead.

    Mutilation of a corpse is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions and other protocols to which we are signatories. It’s a war crime.

  25. bandit says:

    Drag the warmonger in chief to the Hague in chains to pay for these and all his other war crimes

  26. PD Shaw says:

    @Dave Schuler: I don’t know what the Convention means by mutilation of a corpse, but from a domestic law standpoint (under the Model Penal Code) I think this is the basic concept:

    Desecrate” means defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover hisaction.

    I’m not suggesting that definition applies, but the element of outrage intended towards the living seems similar to what would animate the law of war concerns: Violence between combatants spiraling into harm directed at noncombatants. I wonder if it might not come down into how public or private this was as much as anything.

  27. Rob in CT says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I’m not arguing that. What I was saying (clumsily) is that I personally see it as a relatively minor war crime. Compared to, say, shooting people who have surrendered.

    This was not a defense. Just a gut reaction, like I said.

  28. ed says:

    Pam Geller keeps it classy:

    I love these Marines.Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial.

    They hate us for our freedoms.

  29. mattb says:

    @pangloss:
    I haven’t heard about that level of desecation in WWII Europe. But I’ve collected a few oral histories about the execution of surrendered German POWs by US Troops who were on the move.

  30. Mikey says:

    I’d wager if the Taliban were an honorable enemy fighting according to the established Law of Armed Conflict and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, far fewer of their dead would get pissed upon.

    This is one of those instances where it’s easy to understand the actions taken were reprehensible, dishonorable, illegal, and a disgrace to the uniform…and equally easy to understand why they were taken.

    That’s no excuse, of course–as Americans we expect better of our troops, and as a retired senior NCO, I can say I’d never have allowed such behavior. But when you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

  31. @michael reynolds: I can’t imagine from whom you think James would get “flak” for this post, except for the far right bloggers who have been cheering what these Marines did.

  32. @OzarkHillbilly: Would you feel the same way if the dead bodies had been American Marines, and the men urinating on them, Taliban fighters?

  33. Dazedandconfused says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I think the fact that they allowed somebody to tape it says something is very wrong.

    There is a separate logic in war, and these things are going to happen to some men. Without that logic, we might question the idea that killing them is less of an obscenity than pissing on them is.

    It’s not chaos, it’s just “other”.

  34. @Rob in CT:

    “It may be a war crime, but there are war crimes and then there are War Crimes.”

    This is similar to the argument that advocates of so-called “enhanced interrogation” make: there are people who believe that some forms of torture are less torture than others — or that cruel, humiliating, and degrading treatment, although prohibited by international law, is somehow not as “serious.” As a subjective personal response, I can’t really argue with that — not because I share that response, but because if someone does not believe Marines urinating on dead bodies is a big deal, I won’t persuade them otherwise.

    However, from a *legal* perspective, you are mistaken. There is no such thing as a separate category of war crimes with initial caps to indicate that they are more serious. From a legal perspective, a war crime is a war crime.

  35. Jenos Idanian says:

    These Marines need a stern talking to. But in the big picture, the idea that “we don’t want to further angry the people who kidnap people and behead them on videotape” strikes me as a bit absurd.

    We should discipline the Marines because they offended our sensibilities, not because they offended the Taliban’s.

  36. @PD Shaw: That’s nonsense. Those Marines didn’t need uniforms to know these were Taliban fighters, Obviously, they either knew they were or believed they were, otherwise they presumably would not have done wihat they did. And even all of this is beside the point, because it’s a violation of both U.S. military and international law to urinate on dead people, whether they wear uniforms or not.

  37. @Mikey: Mikey, if you can name a war in human history in which the enemy (from the perspective of either side) was considered “an honorable enemy fighting according to the established Law of Armed Conflict and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” please, please tell me which one it was.

  38. Kathy & PD,

    Uniforms or not, treating a dead body in that manner is reprehensible

  39. Dave Schuler says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    if you can name a war in human history in which the enemy (from the perspective of either side) was considered “an honorable enemy fighting according to the established Law of Armed Conflict and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” please, please tell me which one it was.

    Sure. The post-war investigations of allegations of atrocities during World War I found that neither side was guilty of systematic atrocities. Occasional atypical incidents, yes. But not routine inhumanity. The reports of routine and widespread atrocities that both sides published during the war were propaganda.

    Please don’t misconstrue this as my defending in any way violations of laws of war to which we are signatories either in detail or in spirit. I think such violations should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law regardless of by whom they were perpetrated.

    Also, rightly or wrongly during World War II the Americans generally viewed the Germans as honorable and the Japanese as dishonorable. Post-war investigations of the treatment of American POWs by the Germans generally found atrocities to be incidental rather than systematic. Stalag 17B was likely the worst and even there the atrocities did not appear to have been systematic.

    Again I’m not defending any of this merely responding to your direct question. Yes, we have occasionally faced enemies whom we considered honorable and who, in general, operated according to the laws of war. Since WWII that has been the exception rather than the rule.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Would you feel the same way if the dead bodies had been American Marines, and the men urinating on them, Taliban fighters?

    Yes. And I speak as the nephew of a couple of Marine WWII vets who never said a d*mn word of what happened in the Pacific and a couple of cousins who never said a gud d*mn word about what they did in Vietnam (I, thankfully, just missed that abortion).

    Kathy, I can not recommend too highly, “With the Old Breed” by Eugene Sledge. Our Marines did far worse than pissing on a few corpses in WWII. I am NOT condoning one, or the other, just acknowledging that war makes people into something less. As one who has never experienced war, I am reluctant to condemn those who have.

  41. Mikey says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: Maybe there hasn’t been one. Atrocious actions have been taken in all wars, even those fought by the “good guys.” But at this point we do have established LOAC and in part it’s intended to enforce principles and limit deplorable actions.

    We adhere, for the most part; the Taliban do not. It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, that an enemy with a habit of desecrating corpses gets some of theirs desecrated too. Their atrocities are ingrained and systematic, ours are the exception. Our guys get punished, as they should.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    It’s not chaos, it’s just “other”.

    Exactly. And as one who has never experienced the “other”, I am slow to condemn these men. Again, I am not saying this is right. Just that US servicemen have done far worse…. And as such, I can not get too upset. In fact, I will allow the Marines to deal with this situation, and accept their conclusion, as I feel they are the only ones (OK, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, too) to judge.

    I am not worthy as this is too minor..

  43. Squirrely wrath says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Let me second OzarkHillbilly’s recommendation. I think With the Old Breed provides some important perspective on this incident. I hope Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton have it on their reading lists.

  44. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Squirrely wrath:

    No, they have it right, and everybody in the Corps will back them up on this. They let themselves be filmed doing it.

    There is an art to teaching young men it’s OK to kill, but still maintain control of them. Otherwise, you do not have Marines, you have a mob. It’s not who we are either. Here’s and example of somebody who “get’s it”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PryYdwMq0Z8

  45. PD Shaw says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I never implied that the behavior was not reprehensible. I was adding to James’ comment that race, religion and ethnicity tend to color our troops’ response. I believe the context of irregular forces, waging an unconventional war has as much to do with passions overcoming reason. We do not have complete records of what happened in Missouri during the Civil War, but what we know suggests that force could be used brutally against guerrillas and their support network, regardless of race, color or creed.

  46. Drew says:

    Spin spin spin

  47. ponce says:

    Meh,

    Hard to get too upset over this from a moral standpoint. Reminds me of this quote from Apocalypse Now:

    Kurtz: We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!

    Lousy Hearts n’ Minds, though, not that that matters anymore.

  48. Gustopher says:

    Meh. Moderately distasteful — a War Misdemeanor. The bodies are pretty lightly desecrated, but not mutilated. They were already dead — this is way less worse than systematic torture, which is our policy.

    It undermines the mission, though, as part of that mission is to win the hearts and minds of the civilian populace, and this paints the Marines as disrespectful thugs. It endangers other American soldiers. The soldiers involved should face a nasty bit of discipline — enough to show the seriousness, but not enough to ruin careers.

  49. Shane Pike says:

    These dead “fighters” are literally, the scum of the Earth. They would ALL kill our children & us without hesitation. To piss on them is to piss on nothing. KILL EM ALL!!!

  50. Mr Everyday says:

    Why should we be bothered with this?
    They Kill/ed with no remorse, didnt care who or what they killed, why should we really care!
    Stick it to them, they deserve less.

  51. Bryan says:

    Now we should kill the rest of them so no more people’s feelings will be hurt.

  52. Dan says:

    @Shane Pike: The culpability of others does not limit or eliminate the culpability of those Marines. You are culpable for how YOU behave and pointing at others is just a distraction from that inquiry.

    It is no more a defense to the Marines’ actions to say “but the Taliban kill innocent people” than it is for me to point at the robber after I’ve committed theft. I am judged solely on my conduct not other peoples’.

  53. Damon says:

    @John D’Geek: Please feel free to comment all you want on how the marine’s are doing the job, because those marines that are the young thugs protecting the freedom of free speech as well as all the other freedoms that you enjoy. Keep in mind though that these young thugs see everyday what it takes to defend your freedoms. Do I agree with what the marines did, no I do not. But before you sympathize with the Taliban take a trip to Bethesda medical center, or talk to a marine that held is buddy, or thug, as he bled out, or comforted him after an IED blew his legs off or watched Taliban trigger man through the scope of a sniper rifle but was denied the shot because there were locals in the area. Spent your time thanking and supporting the Troops instead of bashing the guys defending your freedom to be an idiot.

  54. Rob in CT says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    I have clearly stated, twice, that I’m giving a gut reaction, not a legal argument.

    The act was wrong. We agree on that. All I was saying is that this pales in comparison to an incident like the one that came out last year with the team of soldiers (can’t remember if they were army or marines) who were going around deliberately whacking civilians and taking pictures of their kills.

    Neither is ok. Both should be punished. But one is a whole lot worse than the other (and the punishments should reflect this). That’s all.

  55. M-40A3 says:

    So what’s all that fuss about some drops of piss? I did not see it when the taliban ambushed a French patrol and subsequently stabbed the dead bodies, or when the bodies of some operators were burned and hung out a bridge in the center of Bagdad, or when a savage sommie mob draw the dead bodies of a Blackhawk crew around in Moggi….Things like that belongs to a combat zone and should be left there, same as the gold teeths extracted from the japs in WWII, or the ears cut from Charlie in the 70’s…what’s new? I tell you what: the bloody media taking facts from its original context and trying to analyse them in another one, thousands of miles away….Leave it there.

  56. Jason X. says:

    Waa waa. All of you that are being pc about this have never seen the atrocities of war. Kindly shut your liberal yaps about things you dont know. These Marines were merely returning the favor.

  57. JohnMcC says:

    War is ghastly and the best most soldiers can hope for is to survive it. Desecration of corpses is ghoulish and to be condemned, These marines surely have disgraced themselves and will face punishment and that is as it should be. But I am reminded of the Iliad and how Achilles tied Hector’s body behind a chariot and dragged it around the city walls of Troy. Those marines understand Achilles better than any English Lit teacher who ever lived — unless of course the teacher had been in combat.

    The way to stop this is to stop war.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    It’s really nice that some believe that the American military should live down to the standards of the Taliban…these folks surely won’t mind when the corpse of an American soldier is desecrated…

  59. Manny says:

    war is war. no feelings. no compromise. kill or be killed. the taliban or any enemy of a Marine or his country, bearing harm or ill-will towards that marine…reguardless of either the enemy knows the marine or not…do and have done things worse to Marines…torture, executions, etc. so what these marines are venting and showing that they are on top…they are there to suppress a cowardly enemy…and to protect the innocent people who get dragged into a conflict. WAR HAS NO RULES…WAR IS TO KILL BEFORE BEING KILLED. MARINES KILL TO STAY ALIVE AND TO GIVE US OUR FREEDOMS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED EVERYDAY.

  60. Rob in CT says:

    TO GIVE US OUR FREEDOMS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED EVERYDAY

    This meme is in danger of being overplayed to the point of absurdity.

    Marines fighting in Afghanistan are risking their lives to support US government policy. They are not, however, protecting our freedoms (let alone “giving” us our freedoms). They’re just not. They could all come home tomorrow and our freedoms would be utterly unaffected. The greatest danger to our freedoms, post-9/11, is the US public and the representatives they have chosen to elect.

    Marines in Afghanistan may may be protecting our safety , if you believe that the (nearly 10-year-old) mission in Afghanistan has prevented additional terrorist attacks here at home.

    A strong military is a key element in protecting ourselves and, by extension, making sure we remain free. So is an informed and engaged public (wherein lies a major problem, since we lack that). So does intelligent foreign policy that only puts our military in harms way for damned good reason and gives them an acheiveable mission (we also lack this much of the time).

    None of that involves pissing on the corpses of your enemy (particularly when you’re trying to negotiate something w/them). As far as I can see, no one here has argued that what these soldiers did was morally equivalent to torture or murder or whatever other horrible thing that an enemy has inflicted upon our soldiers. So cut out the whiny “oh nobody criticizes the Taliban!” crap. Everbody knows the Taliban is barbaric, fer goodnessakes (though “cowardly” doesn’t strike me as accurate). It’s not something that needs to be noted all the time. It’s obvious. Also rather obvious: trying to turn Afghanistan into even a semi-functional nation-state is an excercise in futility. Bring ’em home.

  61. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Mr Everyday:

    Why should we be bothered? Because our reputation precedes us wherever we go. Think that can’t make a difference to the boots on the ground who have to walk among the people there?

    There is a larger issue here for the Corp. Want to put ourselves up on a pedestal, of saying we are not “soldiers”, we are Marines? Fine. But don’t let that pedestal fool us into believing that since we are there we must be elite. This is disgusting, and in the context of this conflict allowing themselves to be filmed doing it is stupid beyond description.

  62. Stenbar says:

    @Hey Norm:
    What the hell do you expect..Do you think these soldiers are gonna put a suit on and go to church and take collection? You ask them to go in a foreign land and they watch theyre friends get blown up and you expect them to be normal??? You ask them to be normal..LOL…Give them a pass a slap and put them back out there…What a joke…If you think you can act better then go stand a post and prove it!!!!!!

  63. When I was a boy, I found a shoe box in my father’s closet. In the box were pictures from World War II. My father was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and later escaped. He was in the March to Bataan. The pictures were unspeakable. We are talking about more than taking a piss. What the Japanese and the Americans did to each other is beyond your reality or comprehension – because most of you never served in any war.

    In Israel, everyone must serve in the military – men and women. In the United States, no one serves on a mandatory basis. At least not in recent history. I had to serve when there was a draft, but glad to say I volunteered. People in this country think this is a place not worth defending at their personal expense. I have a hard time talking to people who never served their country. My uncle died in Korea. I served on the same military base as my father during the Vietnam War.

    Was this act outrageous or simply what war does to men and women? I would call it stupid. Dead men tell no tales and have no interest in the telling. They leave the telling to people with no skin in the game. If you lost a leg or an arm, then you get some sympathy from the non-combatants . If you piss on a dead man, then you go to jail and are condemned by them.

    Remember the phrase “War is Hell.” It was spoken by General William Tecumseh Sherman after he burned Atlanta to the ground. And that ended slavery at a very high price. Freedom comes at a very high price. And it is incumbent on all us non-combatants to have some small amount of sympathy of the men and women we put in harm’s way and do stupid things in the name of our freedom.

  64. An Interested Party says:

    Once again, for all of those people who dismiss this, I would very much like to see your reaction if the corpses of American troops were pissed on…surely, you would just dismiss that with a glib “war is hell”, right?

  65. Eric Florack says:

    Does anyone recall “Piss Christ”?
    Hell, they even got a monetary grant from the NEA for that one.
    As David L said recently:

    Maybe those Marines should apply to National Endowment for the Arts for a grant to cover the cost o their legal defense. I mean it is not like the tax payers have never paid for stuff like this before. I mean if offending millions of Christians should qualify for a federal grant, what is the problem with offending Muslims, or the difference?

    In any event, those guys deserve celebration, not incarceration.

  66. Lee Dworshak says:

    Once again our civilian leaders who have never been to war, much less seen combat, jump to condemn the very soldiers that allow them to live in the luxury most of us enjoy in America.

    The Marine peeing incident would have been a joke had it occurred during the Vietnam War and it’s likely that this clear non-event would have never been reported, much less even casually discussed. Pissing on people who are trying to kill you in a fire fight is not worth mentioning and wouldn’t have been if it weren’t for some poor idiot lacking common sense while pointing a video camera at everything that moves or breathes.

    The heat of battle stirs up many emotions and relieving one’s self in the dirt or where your dead enemy happens to lie is part of the decompression process and emotional letdown that occurs after battle for those soldiers that haven’t already peed their pants from the sheer terror of combat.

    Save the condemnation and self-righteousness for the true atrocities that are committed against the American people every day by our politicians unless maybe you’d like to go out and take up the fight on your countries behalf. Maybe serving in the military should be a prerequisite for leading our military.

    Thank God the military is subject to the UCMJ and the courts-martial process rather than civilian law. At least these guys will be judged by their peers and disciplined accordingly for their pissing contest that happened to be caught on camera.

  67. John425 says:

    Let’s see—we are fighting an ememy that wears no uniform, represents no government, does not recognize civilians as innocents and is in total rejection of the “rules of war”.

    Pissing on their dead is almost a waste of a good piss. Having seen the guerilla atrocities in a place called Viet Nam, I say, screw ’em. It isn’t that the Taliban are suddenly going to become statesmen anyway.

  68. John D'Geek says:

    @Damon: Eh?

    Spent your time thanking and supporting the Troops instead of bashing the guys defending your freedom to be an idiot.

    Pretty sure you aimed at the wrong Poster in your comments. I never “Marine Bashed”; all of the SOF guys I know are of the highest caliber.

  69. Jerilyn allen says:

    All I have to say is they should’ve had a few more pissing on him………just think about the crazy things the Taliban has done to us…….MARINES ARE FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Great job)