Candidly, the story of a handful of Marines videotaping themselves urinating on dead Taliban fighters is a subject I’ve feared to broach because it is heart-breaking to think those men so lost their sense of shared humanity — if only for those minutes — as to do what they did. Rep. Allen West has given me a way to write about it, though, by saying it all better than I ever could. In an e-mail to The Weekly Standard, West wrote:
I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.
All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.
Without excusing the vulgar, distasteful, disgraceful (insert your adjective here) desecration committed by the Marines themselves, West reminds us that civilians can never fully understand the magnitude of the sacrifices they ask men and women to make on their behalf.
Words of support for the troops are needed now as always, but they’re hardly forthcoming. The Republican presidential candidates, for example, have made no statements of support for the predominantly well-behaved troops as a buttress against the effects on public opinion of the administration’s eager denouncement of the few. William Kristol highlights their silence:
Give me a break. More importantly, give our troops a break. Yes, the Marines who appear to have done what they did should be reprimanded or punished, as they would have been in the normal course of things once their deed came to light. I will even grant that some higher-ups might have felt it prudent to deplore what happened, based on realpolitik considerations of depriving our enemies of excuses to whip up sentiment against us in the region (though I’m doubtful the effort to do this isn’t more counterproductive than not). But the administration’s reaction is over the top. And it smells of cheap self-righteousness and moral posturing from an administration that, to be honest, hasn’t devoted a whole lot of time to thanking our troops for what they’ve been doing in very difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Maybe it was too much to expect senior officials to make the common sense points that 1) this incident is not something to get hysterical about, and 2) it needs to be put in the context of the admirable behavior of 99 percent of our troops 99 percent of the time. But aren’t there Republicans around who might want to make this point? I gather, for example, that there are several people running for the Republican presidential nomination. Maybe one of them could say a good word about our troops?
Those who do dare to speak up are promptly attacked for it. Big Journalism’s Dana Loesch describes the backlash she’s received for a few statements she made on her radio program yesterday to the effect that the reaction to the incident has been overblown:
This is nothing but an exercise in situational, exploitative outrage, and it completely proved the point I was making. The phrases “defile” and “desecration” popped up in my replies on Twitter every minute or so. If “desecration” is a concern for progressives, where was their outrage when the remains of over 200 Air Force members were dumped in a landfill? I’ve seen more outrage towards our troops over this incident than I have ever seen towards the Taliban themselves who’ve beheaded soldiers (American and Afghan), raped and tortured women, sent out suicide bombers, and carried out horrific attacks.
The disproportionate anger on the part of progressives is fueled by their dislike of our military. That[‘s] what this proves. The left is attacking me so they can give the Obama administration a pass–unlike what they did with Bush and Abu Ghraib. Like it or not, I’ll stand up for our troops no matter which president is in charge.
The situation has never called for histrionics, but it has always called for a sober recognition that the reality of war is unfathomable to those who’ve never experienced it, and it is up to us, who remain in comfort while others fight our battles, to sing the praises of those who bear with the unbearable in a brave and noble manner — and to help however we can to restore to those veterans who’ve lost it a deep, abiding conviction in the dignity and worth of the human person.