In the last few weeks, a videotape of four United States Marines urinating on some dead insurgents in Afghanistan surfaced.  Obviously, this is inexcusable behavior in polite society, but ladies and gentlemen, the places we send our Marines are not civilized places.  Never in the history of the United States have we sent our troops to a civilized place to wage war.  It is disheartening to see how quickly some Americans have turned on the men that provide them safety.

Although the methods and weapons of war have changed in the last century, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the mental and spiritual toll that is exacted from each man who picks up a weapon for his country.  Wars are just as gruesome today as they were in the fields of Europe in the 1940’s.  In fact, fighting is arguably more stressful for soldiers today, due to the cowards that dress in civilian clothes, shoot at Marines, and then go and hide amongst the populace using them as a shield.  This alone would build up hate in the heart of Marines and cause them to do things not necessarily in their character.

Lets turn back the clock about twenty years.  The year is 1993, and Operation Restore Hope in the Bakara Market district of Somalia’s capitol city of Mogadishu has not gone according to plan.  Among the dead are two Delta Force snipers: Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon.  These two men gave their lives protecting a downed helicopter pilot.  Their corpses were later dismembered and dragged through the streets in front of CNN cameras that captured it all.

Fast-forward about ten years from that point to 2004.  Four Blackwater security contractors were ambushed and then hung, burned and dismembered on camera.

In the early days of the War on Terror, there were numerous accounts of American civilians being kidnapped and executed via gruesome beheadings captured on film and broadcasted to the world, the most famous of which was journalist Daniel Pearl.

People tend to act as though this recent story of Marine misconduct is the worst misconduct that has ever happened in our military.  Going back as far as World War II, there is evidence of routine executions of prisoners as well as torture and mutilation of dead bodies.  There are even reports of American servicemen prying teeth from dead Japanese soldiers in order to harvest their gold and silver cavity fillings.  In Vietnam, there was a highly decorated Special Forces unit known simply as Tiger Force, whose job it was to take the fight to the heart of the enemy and instill fear within them.  They did this by scalping and removing the dead enemies’ ears and wearing them like jewelry.

Even more recently was the Abu Ghraib scandal, a stunning look into how things can really get when no one is watching.  These prisoners (who were still alive I might add) were subjected to horrible and dehumanizing treatment.  I will stop short of calling it torture because to my knowledge the pictures never actually showed anyone being physically harmed, just humiliated.  Yet, it is perplexing that Americans, most of whom have little knowledge of any of the events mentioned, look so judgmentally at those fighting in their place.

These Marines should be dealt with and disciplined privately, not publicly flogged by the nation that they fight and risk their lives to protect.  As Congressman Allen West so poignantly said, “As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”  No civilian is qualified to say what is right and wrong on the battlefield.

The long and short of this issue is simple: these young Marines made a mistake.  This mistake, however, doesn’t remove their honorable service to this country.  It has become apparent these brave Marines are being sacrificed on the alter of political correctness.

Mark Mayberry :: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga :: Chattanooga, Tennessee :: @MarkMayberry85

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