People are justifiably offended by the behavior of the Marines shown urinating on dead Taliban in a video posted on the Internet. One of the things that separates our civilization from the Taliban’s barbarism is our universal respect for the dignity of all human beings–even Taliban thugs.
OTOH, let’s not go overboard with apologies, and let’s not put up with lectures on civility from barbarians. Those Marines screwed up. They should suffer the consequences. And our civilization should move on.
Michael Ledeen has a good essay on this mess. He concludes that the Secretary of Defense should:
1. Treat it as a routine matter. “Boys will be boys. Especially in war. Stuff happens. We enforce our rules.”
2. Don’t pass judgment, even hypothetically. Just say, it’s been referred to the investigators. When we find out what happened, we’ll get back to you.
3. If Karzai delivers more moral lectures, have the president of the United States give a speech about Afghan sexual culture, including the treatment of young boys by older men, and the treatment of women by all Afghan men. And then suggest, ever so sweetly, that Karzai is not really in a strong position to lecture us.
UPDATE–More comments here.
UPDATE 2—Rep. Allen West (LTC, U. S. Army, Ret.) offers the following:
All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?
The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.
As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.
Tina Korbe adds this—
The situation has never called for histrionics, but it has always called for a sober recognition that the reality of war is unfathomable to those who’ve never experienced it …
I’ll simply add from my own experience that Gen. Sherman and LTC West are correct: War is Hell. As George Orwell said, we will sleep safely tonight because rough men are willing to do violence on our behalf.