The Absurd Urination Debate

by Rich Rubenstein on January 14, 2012 · 2 comments

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Here’s the debate caused by a photo of U.S. Marines in Afghanistan urinating on dead Taliban fighters:

The higher-ups in Washington insist that desecrating enemy corpses is immoral, illegal, and ultra-impolitic.  Others think it’s not so terrible.  Bill Maher, for example, thinks that torture is a lot worse, and Rob Reiner agrees.  “Nobody condones it, obviously, but war does make people a little crazy. You put young people in a situation like that, they’re seeing their friends killed next to them, and they act out. There’s no justifying it, but it’s expected,” says the former star of All In The Family.

Who is right?  Both sides — and neither one!  Desecrating corpses is clearly an abomination.  And atrocities of this sort are absolutely to be expected in wars, particularly wars of counter-insurgency.  But what this really means — what nobody wants to say directly — is that the administration and the generals who are responsible for starting and prosecuting the war are directly responsible for these predictable atrocities. In moral and, very likely, in legal terms, it was the commander-in-chief and his generals who pissed on those dead Taliban soldiers, not just four Marines.

Of course, the president and his minions will try to exculpate themselves, as always, by throwing full responsibility for wrongdoing onto the bottom-dogs.  This transparent dodge should not disguise the fact that those who started the war and continue to prosecute it are ultimately responsible for war crimes.  I would like very much to know if Bill Maher and Rob Reiner agree with this, or if they think that everyone should be held guiltless.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Menso January 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I agree. Philip Zimbardo demonstrates in the Lucifer Effect the link between giving people authority and the violent hierarchy that results. He saw Abu Ghraib. This revelation will not surprise anyone who has read that book.


Greg Davis January 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I think most Combat Veterans will agree that the act itself pales in comparison to the range of other atrocities witnessed in wartime.

The primary issue here is that these troops made a video of the act and it achieved viral status on YouTube, to be watched not only by friends and family, but also by millions of Muslims around the world.

The impact in the latter sector means that the video will now justify targeting all the rest of the US military for atrocities, to include torture and maiming, and likely, brutal deaths.

I’ve seen it occur in other theaters of war, and was astonished when a prisoner I was interrogating talked about an American Colonel whose announce policy was the desecration of enemy corpses; he was promoted four times after that and achieved hero status in the Army.

The problem was that the North Vietnamese Army used his actions to torture and maim US POWs — but those relational stories were never covered in the Stars and Stripes or US Media with linkage to our own actions.

It’s basic phyics.
“For every action, there is always an equal reaction”


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