Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts on the four Marines, urinating on dead insurgents, and Rick Perry.

Been thinking about the story of the four Marines who urinated on the bodies of dead insurgents.

First, I'm not overly concerned. Why? Because just as in civilian life, there are consequences for breaking the law, so exists such in the Armed Forces. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has very specific provisions for dealing with the behavior and actions of those subject to it. Article 134 covers the actions of the four Marines:
"Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of the court."
I know firsthand from having served that servicemen and women are held to a higher standard of conduct. than civilians. There are a great number of punishable offenses in the military one will not find in the civilian world. There's a reason for that: in order for the military to carry out its mission to defend this nation, it requires adherence to rules and order, for without it there would be no United States of America. The four Marines who perpetrated this act brought discredit and dishonor to our military services and should be prosecuted in accordance with the UCMJ. I've got no problem with that. That said, but they should be tried ONLY for violating the UCMJ and not for anything else. They should not be punished to appease politicians or the American people, or to keep the peace w/our friends abroad, or to keep the enemy from retaliating.

Second, do these Marines deserve the flack they've received? Was what they did that big a deal? What they did has been called despicable. Rick Perry attempts to downplay the actions of these Marines by stating very publicly and without regret that what happened to Daniel Pearl and the US contractors in the Middle East years back is what is really despicable. I agree with the Governor on that but I disagree with his attempt to justify the actions of these soldiers by deflecting using Pearl, the contractors and the words "mistake" and "young men".  These aren't "kids" these are professional soldiers, an elite group of soldiers at that, and they knew better. By the way, I just thought that Perry bringing this into the debate was pointless. His point could have been made without it. He was hoping to capitalize on it and no doubt he did.

Third, I think pissing on the dead bodies of the enemy just brings us down to the level of the terrorists. Come on, we're the USA, we're better than that right? We champion human rights, we fight for the little guy, we try to do the right thing. I'm not talking about our government so much as I am the people who make up this great nation. What would we think if the enemy soldier did that to our troops or civilians? All hell would break loose and rightly so. We'd be mad as hell! Remember what the terrorists did to the dead bodies of the federal contractors? Sure, the federal contractors weren't hurting anyone while all the terrorists do is kill people. That's true, but it doesn't justify us acting like them. Just because the other guy does it, doesn't mean it's okay for us to do it too.

That said, I'll add one more thing which I feel is very important. War is hell. Period. Nobody knows better than the soldier who has to fight it. Our soldiers in the Middle East are stationed in what can only be referred to as hell. They are thousands of miles away from home in a country where they are not wanted, where they were not invited, and thrown into a war that cannot be won.  In addition, while our soldiers are required by our government to fight in accordance with rules of engagement, they are fighting an enemy that has no such rules. There is no way a person who has never been subject to this kind of warfare can even begin to comprehend the magnitude of this situation in which our brave soldiers have been placed. And that brings me to another thought...can we condemn the behavior of these soldiers without considering the situation they've been placed in that likely contributed to such behavior? Was this behavior inevitable considering the stress these soldiers face every single day?  I wonder....while they are at fault for their actions and are being held accountable, who is at fault and should be held accountable for putting them in that situation in the first place? 

I'm sure there will be mixed reactions on this post. There's two sides to every story and this situation is certainly proof of that.

Editing in....if I sound like I'm contradicting myself here, it's possible. I've mixed feelings on this issue but I felt compelled to write about it.


  1. Hmmm....I think if you really read what you wrote,you might be inclined to rethink your line of thought....

  2. Hi Michael! I did a little editing as you'll note as to hopefully clarify although (LOL!) I did find that in trying to clarify it only made me question myself more on this issue!

  3. Hi Jess...
    As you may have noticed,I also wrote about this topic but I'm feeling it a little different. I am not really aware of the situation that put these Marines in this position. Did they just engage the enemy? Had one of their own been KIA or WIA? Were these Taliban hurting women and children that these soldiers may have bonded with? All good questions that have yet to be publicly asked yet these men are supposed to face public opinion as their court? I think you put it best by pointing out it was our so called leaders that put these men in harm's way with no time table on how long they will be subjected to IEDs,snipers and other evils of war. It is a shame this has happened but do people actually think this doesn't happen more times then not? I think if anyone has to answer for this,its the Pentagon....been here 10 years and we still don't have a clear understanding of ROE for our troops? Seems to me the military has really let the down the basic frontline troops down in a major way.

  4. Hi Michael glad you came back. What I don't want to do is alienate anyone while speaking my mind. Glad you're back! You're right that we don't know the full story and honestly until you mentioned what you did I hadn't thought of that. I think I was pissed off at those who were taking really tough stances on either side for example those saying how despicable these Marines are and how awful they are blah blah blah and then the other side acting as if what they did wasn't a big deal. Unfortunately especially today, every single action these troops take is under scrutiny thanks to cameras everywhere and 24/7 media. Twenty years ago nobody would have known about this. I'm concerned politics may play a part in their punishment....BTW loved what you wrote on your own blog about Abu Ghraib!

  5. Thanks Jess.....highly encourage you to read "Wiser In Battle" by General Ricardo Sanchez who was in command during Abu Ghraib,you'll won't look at Iraq the same again....I also picked up the bio of the General was in command of the prison itself but I haven't had a chance to read it....will let you know my thoughts after I do.

  6. This crap never would have gotten out years ago. People sign up for the military for free school & forget what may really happen. Now, the inside people are those that report this stuff. Our generation grew up in quieter times & didn't realize war was a possibility. Look how many conscientiousness objectors they've had? What the hell did you think you were going to have to do one day?

    Although, I have never been in the military, I am in law enforcement. Another field where all those that have never done think they are qualified to comment.