Sebastian Junger on Video of Taliban Desecration

Friday, January 13, 2012

On Thursday a video showing four U.S. Marines purportedly urinating on the corpses of three dead Taliban fighters went viral on the internet. Defense secretary Leon Panetta called the behavior “utterly deplorable” and Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai decried the video as “completely inhumane.” The video comes at a tense time, as the U.S. tries to foster peace talks between the Taliban and Karzai's government.

Sebastian Junger, author of "War" and co-director of the award-winning documentary "Restrepo", speaks about this type of behavior in the military.


Sebastian Junger

Produced by:

Marc Kilstein

Comments [6]


Compare the Abu Ghraib pictures in 2004 with the Scout/Sniper pictures in 2012:

In both cases, the acts were committed by frontline non-commissioned soldiers, not acting under orders. Soldiers were being dumb and reckless. In both cases, the acts were condemned by the theatre commanders, the Secretary of Defense and the White House. In both cases, military investigations wer opened. In the 2004 Abu Ghraib case, the involved personnel were court-martialed. In the 2012 case, I expect that there will likewise be a court martial. On all of those dimensions, the cases are indistinguishable.

So what is the difference? In 2004, the media, most particularly including public radio, The New Yorker and the New York Times all rushed to assign direct blame to the Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) the President (George W. Bush) and the Vice President (Dick Cheney). In 2012, we see no such blaming of the current administration, and I expect that there will be none.

Indeed, what we see in 2012, are people like Sebastian Junger, assigning blame to some old, unstated policies of the Bush Administration for military abuses taking place three years after the end of that Administration! In 2004, the meme was to blame Bush; in 2012 that meme remains unchanged; blame Bush.

The witless hypocrisy of the left-leaning media is a never-ending wonder.

Jan. 13 2012 12:54 PM

Why was there no extensive discussion on how the execrable toilet habits of the Occupy protesters and their other criminal, disgusting and violent behavior would impact their mission?
Is the attention now on the awful conduct of US Marines that progressive politicians sent into combat in the wilderness rather than the awful conduct of leftist activists in major cities who progressive politicians praise?

Jan. 13 2012 10:57 AM
Jeremy Eckerman from Detroit, MI

If the armed services were putting clear, concise, and consistent guidelines in place, the training would probably be three months longer...the Uniform Code of Military Justice is a short course, and basically drills into your head what you are absolutely not allowed to do to a living enemy combatant. Yes, both acts—waterboarding and desecration of corpses—are wrong. But we, as civilians, forget what our enemies do to our corpses. Many members of our armed services do not. I'm sure that, to those Marines at that time, the thought of urinating on four presumably Talib corpses was small change compared to what has been done to our dead before graves registration gets to them (Somalis dragging the bodies of Blackhawk crewmen is one image that has been burned into my thoughts, and there are numerous additional examples that don't need to be detailed here.). I'm sure those Marines, who are home now, are seeing this and feeling real remorse...not for the act, but for the reaction.

Jan. 13 2012 10:12 AM
Juan Plaza from Boca Raton

The Tea Party will prove to be a 2010 glitch in American politics. Electing officials with a mandate not to negotiate is a no win-no win proposition and therefore will die soon.
The Republican Party will find a way that does not involve the TP after they lose to Obama in 2012.

Jan. 13 2012 09:14 AM
adolfo biagioni from New York

Taliban can film & post the severing of heads on live humans but they might be upset if we urinate on their dead?? I don't think so!

Jan. 13 2012 09:09 AM
Mark Trail from Redwood Valley, CA

People shocked by this must have missed that whole phase we went through with the severing of heads for display on pikes. If you want to desensitize your warriors to the slaughter you may have to put up with a little playful desecration of the bodies of the reviled enemy- you can't risk any sympathetic blurring of the "us" and "them." Don't like this kind of stuff? Man-o-man, you just may not care for war! For better behavior one can always try the debate team.

Jan. 13 2012 08:23 AM

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