War forces men to behave outrageously
Last month’s news was filled with pictures of American Marines peeing on a couple of dead Taliban fighters. Lily- livered politicians expressed shock and began apologizing to the terrorists worldwide. Even a few generals were pressured to do so.
Why is it “against the rules of war” to tinkle on dead enemies, but OK to drop Napalm on live ones?
First, there are no “rules of war.” Those of the Marquess of Queensbury apply only to boxing. The real reason we don’t use poison gas as the Germans did in World War I and Saddam Hussein did against the Kurds is the unpredictability of wind, not morality.
We certainly didn’t hesitate to use atomic bombs against the Japanese.
Fanatical suicide bombers who blow up marketplaces full of civilians and treat women like the were subhuman are not gentlemen soldiers fighting for their country or some noble cause that is equal to our own. Such people deserve no respect, dead or alive.
Second, the Marines pictured in the photos seen round the world were snipers. Snipers don’t always kill in self- defense like other soldiers. Their job is to disrupt enemy operations and morale by killing at extreme range, using special rifles with highpowered telescopic sights.
The assassinate their unsuspecting targets with cool determination and deadly skill. Training young from decent American family backgrounds and values to become assassins requires that the be desensitized regarding the humanity of their targets so that they will not freeze on the trigger when called upon to do their jobs.
We have always treated enemies with necessary disrespect, calling them derisive names that would clearly be labeled as ethnic slurs in a civilian context. All of this is necessary in wartime to make it easier to kill without debilitating remorse.
It’s no wonder that so many combat veterans come home emotionally damaged.
Frankly, I don’t think the lives of the entire population of Afghanistan are worth that of a single American soldier. If international terrorism attacks on us require a military response, let it be with precision aerial bombardment from stealth aircraft or unmanned, remotely piloted drones that do not put our sons, fathers and brothers in uniform at risk.
In past wars, it was commonplace to desecrate the bodies of enemy soldiers. Our soldiers were starved and beaten in Nazi Stalags and Japanese or North Korean prison camps.
I recall that during the 1950s, North Korean commandoes who infiltrated the perimeter of our airfield were shot, then dumped into the ditch into which our latrines emptied.
The difference between today’s conflict and prior wars is that nearly every soldier now carries a wireless camera phone that can take pictures on the spot and transmit them instantly halfway around the world to be seen by those who have not the faintest idea of how terrible and horrible it is to be at war.
Perhaps carrying camera phones should be banned by the military to avoid embarrassing shots like the ones falling into those who sympathize with the enemies of Western values and religion.
Battlefield photography has done little to civilize man’s most uncivilized endeavor, from the days of Matthew Brady and the American Civil War to the iconic scenes by Robert Capra in the Spanish Civil War and the hundreds of thousands of views of killing fields and death camps of World War II.
To those who are outraged by the sight of battle-weary Marines relieving themselves on dead Taliban fighters, I ask: Would they rather see Afghan al- Qaida members holding up the severed heads of American soldiers?
Get over it, people. War isn’t hopscotch.
BOB JORGENSEN lives in Brunswick.