September 18, 2020

By MARIANA C. MORALES

In recent days a video that went viral showing four United States Marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers has caused outrage all over the world.
Apparently the video was taken last year in Afghanistan yet is only being seen now. Two of the Marines have been identified and it’ll only be a matter of time before the other two are as well.
U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said she was in “utter dismay” at the conduct, according to a Jan. 12 article in the Washington Post.
Apologies have been sent as well as talk of punishment for these soldiers. However, not everyone is enraged. Allen West, a Florida congressman, said the four Marines should receive some form of punishment, which could include a reprimand or reduction in rank to loss of pay or extra duty. However, he also said the act wasn’t the worst thing that had ever happened in the world, and lambasted critics, saying: “Unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”
War is definitely hell. There have been many events throughout history where a soldier has committed inhumane actions against a dead person. It’s not videotaped all the time, but it does happen. Does this qualify as a war crime?
In an article posted in the Washington Post on Jan. 13, the reporter, Sebastian Junger, who several times a year spends time with a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, discussed how your mind changes when you’re in combat because of the things you see. Soldiers would cheer seeing their enemy in pain. Although that sounds wrong, it can be also seen as this enemy could no longer take down an American soldier. They cheer that they are alive and that they are one step closer to going home.
We don’t like to speak of it, but there are other times in history where the dead have been dishonoured such as the time Somalia militia dragged the body of a U.S. soldier after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in 1993.
Texas Governor Rick Perry found the video to be disturbing but also thinks that calling it a criminal act is going too far and that similar actions had been seen before. He said that General George S. Patton, a U.S. Army officer during the Second World War, urinated in the Rhine River during a march into Germany.
Sensitivity training is needed, but it won’t prevent similar conduct in the future. There’s always one rogue soldier who takes things into his own hands.
That is why the video is sad, but not surprising.