Misplaced Outrage

Recently a clip has been doing the rounds of US soldiers urinating on the bodies of dead enemy soldiers. This has been greeted with outrage in Afghanistan, the US and elsewhere, this “outrageous” conduct may indeed lead some of the troops involved to be charged.What’s more,  It’s a complete propaganda disaster for the US and it’s allies in Afghanistan.

But the outrage strikes me as a little misplaced. Is urinating on a corpse bad? Sure, its bad, its disrespectful, its all kinds of disgusting but whats the context here? Its a war, bad things happen in wars, people do terrible things. Its a little ironic: its fine that soldiers of both sides kill, maim, burn each other, we’re fine with that, it’s equally fine that aircraft and robot drones kill non-combatants including women and children, we’re fine with lives left behind being destroyed.

But, urinating on a dead body? THAT’S crossing the line.

What a messed up sense of priorities society seems to have. What do people think happens in war? This kind of thing has been going on since mankind decided to find reasons to kill each other and this has been pointed out in a number of articles talking about this event. Read your history, even recent history and this is what happens  – to put it in blunt language: “Fucked up shit happens in war”.

If people can’t stomach the realities of war, perhaps they should be a little more cautious about backing the leaders who want to send soldiers to war. This is the reality of what war is and does, it is outrageous and it is disgusting, it is awful and it is horrible. All the adjectives used to describe this juvenile act of desecration can be leveled at warfare itself, and as long as people see warfare as a valid means of solving their problems then this is what will happen.

In 1902, Major J.F.Thomas, the lawyer charged with defending Harry “Breaker” Morant at his court martial, when commenting on these very issues said:

“The fact of the matter is that war changes men’s natures.  The barbarities of war are seldom committed by abnormal men.  The tragedy of war is that these horrors are committed by normal men in abnormal situations.”

Our sensibilities might be better served by not putting them in these situations in the first place.

A few articles read, considered and mused over:





~ by benephobia on February 20, 2012.

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