Friday, January 13, 2012

Urinating Soldiers

I'm assuming we've all seen the pictures of members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines out of North Carolina's Camp Lejeune urinating on fallen Taliban fighters.

My inclination is not to defend these guys because I admire that the US strives to maintain some level of civility in war.

While I hope that these soldiers are properly punished for their behavior, certainly we as a people need a reality check here. Until we can build robots to fight our wars, we can't be shocked when soldiers cross the line of professionalism.

I mean, their profession involves killing people.

Over the years, at the same that the civilian world has been pushing military culture to adopt a more humanitarian and professional attitude, the military has been finding ways separate young enlistees from their consciences in order to make them more efficient and reliable killers. One huge step forward was the move from practicing shooting a bulls eye to practicing shooting a human silhouette  --because many soldiers who practiced shooting a bulls eye target hesitated when there was a human being on the other side of their gun. Another example is that snipers, like the ones in the pictures, cannot go on missions with less than two individuals --because if you leave a man alone with his conscience, he might hesitate to pull the trigger.

So I'm not saying the behavior of the soldiers in question is acceptable; I'm just irritated that everyone is so shocked when things like this happen. What do we as a nation think war is? And what kind of superhuman soldiers do we think are out there fighting? You can't run headlong into a kill-or-be-killed situation, kill, and then switch off the emotions necessary to perform such acts and suddenly have respect the sanctity of life and be reverent of the dead men who were trying to kill you ten minutes ago.