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Marine-Taliban outrage begs for some prespective

Terry Garlock's picture

The latest media feeding frenzy is on the YouTube video of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of enemy Taliban dead last summer.

Knowing nothing of life on the battlefield is not even a small speed bump to our media mavens who wring their hands with each other, painfully torn since they want to support our troops but have a duty to be righteously indignant, apparently hoping to genuflect to our enemy if they could only find a suitable representative.

Our Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State were, at last glance, about to start their apology tour, likely beginning with the brazenly disloyal Hamid Karzai, corrupt leader of Afghanistan.

It all seems to me just one more example of children handling something that should be under more seasoned and insightful guidance. I’m speaking, of course, of the hysterical reactionaries in our knee-jerking media and naïve civilian leadership in Washington, not the Marines doing the peeing.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those Marines knew what they were doing was wrong and they are rightfully headed for some sort of disciplinary action. But it would be nice if we kept the infraction in perspective. It would also be nice if what happens to the Marines is a matter of sober judgment, but since the Pentagon leadership is political by nature, I fear they will be delivered as a sacrifice to a naïve media and public.

I hope you will contemplate these points.

War ain’t Sunday school. In WWII General George Patton said in a motivational speech to troops about how they would treat the German enemy, “... we’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks ...”

Wow, that’s not very nice language, and in today’s wussified world Patton would probably lose a star, but war was nasty then and it is nasty now.

In WWII there were multiple occasions in Europe in which German troops surrendered and the fast-moving allies had no capacity to handle prisoners while chasing the German war machine. They couldn’t release the enemy soldiers to fight us again, so what do you think our own troops had to do? America never knew the worst side of WWII as censorship shielded the U.S. public, trying to prevent panic.

Our military is now an even more capable and mighty killing machine, even though we tend to use it nowadays like a United Nations peace-keeping force or nation-building operation that measures victory by the yardstick of world opinion.

When we send our troops to fight, we at home think we know what that war is like as we watch TV news from the comfort and safety of our living rooms, but we don’t have any idea. A war zone is a foul and chaotic place where weapons scatter guts and limbs with alarming effectiveness, and our troops’ job is to kill the enemy quickly to stay alive.

Meanwhile we tie their hands with rules of engagement that grant an advantage to an unscrupulous enemy that uses civilian human shields, and we foolishly expect our troops’ behavior to be microscopically conforming to a book of rules that we mentally use to measure them, as if they are playing soccer.

An important part of training in our military is the responsibility to intervene to stop battlefield excesses. We expect our troops to kill the enemy, then when the shooting stops our troops are supposed to prevent their mistreatment. And of course pissing on them when they are dead is not allowed. There is a lesson in that training every civilian should strive to understand.

Passions running amok in combat is human nature, to be expected, even inevitable now and then no matter how much training has occurred. Terrible things happen to our troops by the enemy’s treachery, and passion for retribution builds day after day, until one day the shooting doesn’t stop when it should.

Atrocities have happened in every war on every side, even by our own troops in the war of independence that started our country. Our officers are trained to watch for the inevitable passion for payback, and intervene to stop troops from indulging in the very same vengeance you and I would be eager to deliver. That eagerness is the reason every once in a while something bad happens anyway.

The difference between us and our enemy is that we train our troops to prevent atrocities, but our enemy is often unprincipled; sometimes they even train their soldiers to use atrocities as a routine weapon, like the Viet Cong did in Vietnam.

Our own troops did terrible things one day at a hamlet called My Lai in Vietnam, and the lieutenant who was supposed to stop it led the murder. Nothing will excuse that rare lapse but take a look at our enemy.

The Viet Cong had a political officer in every unit down to the platoon level with a duty to oversee their terror practices, like gathering villagers to watch the beheading of the village chief or the disemboweling of his wife; if she was pregnant that was considered a bonus. The Viet Cong did these things routinely, but our news media was little interested since these were not U.S. atrocities.

Not only was the American public oblivious to our enemy’s atrocity machine, it has always been OK with the pathologically sensitive that we killed each other, but calling our enemy derogatory names like gooks, dinks, slants and slopes would make them pee their pants. I have no regrets of that even though I have two Asian daughters I love more than my own life; a little perspective goes a long way.

Do you wonder what inhuman things our enemy in Afghanistan has done as your anger rises about U.S. Marines pissing on their combat dead? You should. No excuse arises from that, but maybe perspective does.

If you are willing to take a moment to look at past evidence of Taliban character, google “Taliban atrocities” and scan the images of hacked off limbs, disfigured faces, beheadings, bodies left hanging upside down after beating the victim to death, and the legendary Ghazi soccer stadium in Kabul where the Taliban for years held public mutilations, stonings, hangings and other types of executions for infractions like listening to western music or wearing shorts to play soccer.

Maybe you’ll develop the urge to do a little corpse-pissing yourself, but of course that would be wrong.

I don’t recall our enemies extending tearful apologies for mutilations of our war dead, burning corpses, dragging our soldiers’ bodies through streets as crowds cheer, hanging the bodies of our troops on a bridge or sawing off heads on video tape.

We are better than they are, but consider for a moment that the Taliban is surely celebrating this U.S. Marine pissing incident simply because the way we beat ourselves up and plead forgiveness before the world on bended knee is a victory for them.

What if we stopped inviting weakness and opt for long-term strength instead?

What if we stay out of half-wars like Iraq and Afghanistan? What if we watched for our enemies crossing the line, ready to unleash our military force to squash them like a bug without restrictive rules of engagement, applying overwhelming force until victory is absolute?

What if we let a few reporters go wherever they wish during the conflict, but prohibit any videos or photographs of the carnage, letting them write what they wish for the citizens back home with enough brains to read the news instead of feeding emotions with images?

What do I think the effect would be? Right now our enemies laugh at our weakness and use our own news media as their most effective weapon against us. If we ever did apply this “old school” way of using the military, I expect our enemies might once again whisper to each other, “Be careful not to make the Americans mad!” That change in attitude would prevent wars and motivate our allies to join our strength. All Washington needs to do to make that happen is, “Grow a pair!”

Meanwhile, our troops serve with honor and courage, but we have a few U.S. Marines – combat vets, mind you - who violated rules. What to do?

I like the solution of Rep. Allen West (R-Fla), an ex-Army lieutenant colonel who got himself in trouble in Iraq for harsh interrogation. West says, “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 concluded by singing the full U.S. 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.”

[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is]


Once again when we are no better than our enemy, we reap 10 fold the deserved scorn. I would only say that if the war in Afgani had be fought correctly 10 years ago, the Marines would not have been there. Thanks Chanigans and Rummy, the leadership that keeps on giving.."It all seems to me just one more example of children handling something that should be under more seasoned and insightful guidance."

Mike King's picture

...We hear your opinion. Now, what expertise in a combat zone do you possess to determine the CORRECT manner in which a conflict should be fought?

I'm sure that Mr Panetta and all who wear the uniform anxiously await your response.

Equals the former Sec of Defense (I had better things to do than Viet-Nam) Dick Changey. My opinion would have been to fight the war against the enemies of the country where they lived..Afganistan. Put enuf boots on the ground in 2002, to "Mission Acomplished" and get the Hell out. Not be side tracked for some personal / Neo-Con vendetta in a side show that consumed blood and treasure for 10 years. A side show that was unnecessary from the start and one that the amateurs running the Pentagon had No Exit Strategy or plan beyond being welcomed as conquoring heroes.
I am sorry these Marines have been put in this situation probably because of prolonged deployment. I think it is culturally insenative to not recognize the ramifications of this act and the harm done. Not the way to win Hearts & Minds. And not the way to insure that our troops or other non-Afgani's (Muslims) are treated with respect and kept safe.

Mike King's picture

Thanks for the advice, I'm sure those currently in the Pentagon will heed each of your words.

One question, could you please explain the significance of your 'Hearts and Mind' strategy as it applied to Lenin's Russia? Mao's China?

Guess you are not a Ron Paul kinda guy. I am sorry yours and TG's perspective is coloured by your experiences. I can offer some books for you to read to help you understand what was perpetrated upon you. Sen. Kerry understood this 40 yrs ago.. start w/ 'A Bright & Shinning Lie' if you do not have it, I will buy you and TG copies. Then there is 'Fire in the Lake' and after several others I submit Dean Rusk 'Waging War & Peace' & 'The Best & the Brightest' and all the remorse that Robert McNamara could muster. I always think that Colin Powell is Duby Bush's McNamara.
Now do you want my world view about how the Cold War could of / shoulda been avoided? Maybe by 1st recognizing that 20,000,000 Soviets died. Recognizing that they TOO have rights to global security... Monroe Doctrine, et al. I'll end by saying that RAYguns did not defeat the Commie Menace. He bankrupted them before he bankrupted US. It took Bill Clinton (Ok & Newt) to right the ship. Going back, Jimmy Carter was saddled w/ LBJ & more so Nixon's largess.
Happy Now? Let me know where to send that book.

Mike King's picture

Skirting an issue by tossing in the works of John Paul Vann in order to discredit those who you secretly envy is old hat by now. Winning the hearts and minds was the 'tactic' you surfaced, not me.

BTW, of those 20 million, had their hearts and minds been won?

You might need to just stick w/ keeping the local mayor on track. It is not the works of John Paul Vann but an acclaimed book about his experience and where this country got off track early on in Viet Nam. Let me know if you and TG want me to have copies delivered in your name to the PTC Library. The 'Pentagon Papers' is not all that you imagine about the "leaking" of secrets. It too is a document showing where this country got off track going all the way back to the Treaty of Versailles 1918. Did you know Uncle Ho did not start out as a Commie Pinko? You mention atrocities and there is no doubt those happened (obviously on both sides). I would say more innocent villagers were killed by napalm than those disemboweled by godless commies. My question would be: What if the USA had not interjected our might in a civil war? How many lives on both sides would have been spared. I know it is hard from your service to look at some aspects objectively.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

Indeed if our 28th Big Progressive President had not snubbed Uncle Ho in Paris back in his formative years, history may have been much different. And if Eisenhower had more to do in the late 50's those "advisors" would have been sent elsewhere and the whole unpleasant thing could have been avoided.

All this meddling in other countries since WWII has accomplished exactly what? How is your life different because we went into Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan? The outcome seems about the same - with or without us. Timing might have been delayed, but is that worth it?

Sure would be nice if the press would take on a role of pointing out things like how Wilson's micro-management got us into things that caused us so much trouble years later. Ike too. And the obvious parallels between FDR's and Obama's excessive regulation and do-gooder projects that simply make things worse. History is a lot more important than how any wives a candidate had or how much money someone made.

Live free or die!

tgarlock's picture

. . . the dubious results of our meddling. I know from my writings extolling the virtue of our men and women in uniform I am thought by some readers to be pro-war but I am not.

If I were king I'd bring our troops home and stop kidding ourselves we can turn the 7th century stinkhole called Afghanistan into a stable nation. On Iraq I think before we launched Colin Powell said it best - you break it, you own it.

On Vietnam, honest and informed people can disagree whether we ever should have tried to stop the spread of Communism there; the trouble starts with the honest and informed part. I started writing about it 30 years late when I realized my kids would be taught the mythical version that rose from the anti-war ashes, and I wanted them to know the truth, which is quite bad enough.

Too bad we can't keep our troops home, maybe guarding our borders with lethal force to keep in practice, ready to squash real enemies like bugs when they get out of line instead of playing half-war bs that eats our troops like a meatgrinder.

I love our troops for their sacrifice doing our dirty work, I despise our politicians for making self-serving decisions that bet the lives of our troops, and I mistrust the guys wearing stars in the Pentagon padding their own career instead of treating the troops under their command with the care and loyalty we parents should be able to expect.

And Mike, thanks for trying to talk sense where it is badly needed and not understood.

Terry Garlock, PTC

. . .and more sense in what you have so eloquently expressed. Thanks.

As for speaking English: We are the only industrial nation in the world that looks down on bilingualism. Of course English is the language of an American! Does that mean we do not honor the language of our forefathers who settled this nation? Does that mean we do not want our children to learn another language like their peers do in other industrial countries? Do you realize that most of our jobs were sourced out to nations that HAD A BILINGUAL WORKFORCE? Those immigrants who are legal are also bilingual - and employed!! The Chinese businessman is fluent in English, Chinese, Spanish. (And don't forget French, German, and Japanese) Our college graduates should be at least fluent in two languages.. IMHO

making sense again! Better watch out! You could get 'moderated' for that!

Pats or Giants?

Also, I didn't know till this this past weekend that Eli was such a hick! How does one keep that Luzyanna drawl living in NY half the year!?

mudcat's picture

I'd settle for English that we could understand as opposed to the 'dis and 'dem and you momma stuff I hear everyday from wannabe thugs. You are certainly right about the need to be bilingual and I am afraid English ain't gonna make the first cut. Spanish for the masses and Chinese for the new ruling class will be the 2 we need.

I am so tired of our best young men and women coming home with arms and legs missing, brain damage, etc and the mental problems that fighting these kinds of wars bring on. I have often said that all politicians and generals who propose war be made to serve on the front lines or send their own children to serve on the front lines. You would see the situation change drastically. We send out finest off to battle and treat them poorly when they return. It makes me sick to my stomach.

suggarfoot's picture

We want too much of them. We ask for their hearts, minds,souls, and bodies. They give all, then we turn on them for any infraction.

No, it wasn't right that they peed on the dead guys. But what did they go through before that?

Cyclist's picture

was the rally cry of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps led by French General Leclerc. The free French wanted to drive the dreaded "Boche" invader from their land and then to run the Japanese out of their far east colony - French Indochina.

I find it baffling how the French, while celebrating the liberation of their country, could somehow be so blind to the fact that the indigenous people of Vietnam wanted the same thing. And this rock just keeps on spinning.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Mike King's picture

Your warped sense of logic lends me to believe that you would be content having your kids lorded over by some other nationality.

I'm thankful that we're having this discussion in English, are you?

You've been debating the mayor too long. I guess we know this discussion would not be conducted in Vietnamese, there was never any report that junks were about to sail into San Diego. Uh, Russian? I think the record now shows they were pretty incapable and had their plate full on the home front. Our grandchildren may need to learn Chinese, thanks to Duby Bush turning a balanced budget into a deficit and racking up at least a Trillion in debt on an useless Iraq war and the current opposition's inability to come to terms with social & economic inequalities and the great need for healthcare reform.

Gort's picture

I just wish you would have taken his advice.

[quote] .., unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”[/quote]

BTW, what should be done to the knucklehead that posted it on the internet?

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

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