Friday, January 13, 2012

A Nice Big Cup of STFU

A friend called yesterday and said I should write something about the video of US Marines urinating on Taliban corpses.

He's wrong. I do have an opinion. A strong opinion. But I am a former ground pounder National Guard medic. Not a Marine. The people that need to respond to this, to handle it, are Marines.

Not me. And certainly not any whiny media types with a history of agitating against the military. This will be handled, as it should be handled, by Marines.

Some of the best people I have worked with-- Mike, Craig, TJ, Jon (and I know I am forgetting some) were former Marines. Dedicated, effective men. Dangerous, but above all honorable. They have a tradition of combat and honor older than the country they serve.

30 comments:

David Kafri said...

I was not a marine and not even American, but the call for people to comment comes from concern that, if left to be dealt with internally, some things will not be properly dealt with.

In my country, Police Internal Affairs was moved from the Police to the Justice Department, and many say even this is not enough. Too many stories of cover-ups and attempts to silence dark, dirty secrets.

If nobody shines a light on it, it stays in the dark.

Kai Jones said...

If only the people with experience get to make the rules, do the critiques, and have opinions, then everything society does will be shaped by the worst of the people who do each thing--because they are the most motivated to take control of it.

Rory said...

Kai- it's not my experience that the worst people are the most motivated to take control.

It is my experience that weak, cowardly people come out of the woodwork to try to diminish anything better than they are. At any opportunity.

Nor, David, am I saying things should be kept in the dark.

I am saying that when a group has a valued tradition of honor and integrity, in order to have an effect, the criticism must come from people of at least equal reputation. And when members of a group violate the group's core values, the group will fix it better than any outsider.

Kai Jones said...

Rory-I think US politics gives some evidence for my position.

Richard said...

And what is this evidence?.

Kai Jones said...

Richard-Tammany Hall. Richard Nixon. The Christianist takover of the Air Force Academy.

Who watches the watchers? We do.

Tom said...

Rory,

I don't understand the phrase "whiny media types".

Or what you mean when you say "It is my experience that weak, cowardly people come out of the woodwork to try to diminish anything better than they are".

Anonymous said...

This entire thread is off topic for the Chiron blog. Perhaps it should be removed altogether.

Anonymous said...

Tom- I suspect you think you are being clever but your comment is simply pretending stupidity (unless you are in fact in second grade, in which case I apologize for what I'm about to say).

Go back to the title of the post and pour yourself a . . .

Tom said...

Anon,
No, I am genuinely unclear on what he means, and phrasing it any other way (such as "do you think journalist shouldn't do their jobs?") without making insinuations about his meaning is difficult.

I was attempting to understand his position, not pull some rhetorical trick by feigning ignorance.

kenpokiwi said...

While I don't condone, I understand. Let the Marines handle it.

karrde said...

@Tom,

I would interpret the phrase any whiny media types with a history of agitating against the military. as a statement that most people who work in the entertainment business (including the entertainment known as Network News) have an attitude which is not seen as friendly by soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

Not a veteran of any service myself, only reporting the impression I gather from military men and from news-reporters.

The not-friendly attitude manifests in many ways: reporting atypical events as typical; reporting of abuses and horror without reporting the military's internal response to misbehavior of members; reporting done with word-choices and emphasis that appear to assume the common military man is an unthinking brute.

Anonymous said...

Tom, I just don't see it.

There is nothing ambigous about Rory's phrasing and you seem to be fluent in English.

When you claim not to understand what I see is an effort to act innoncent while implying that Rory's position is so ridiculous as to be literally incomprehensible. Which is not conducive to discussion and just plain rude although delivered subtly.

It'd be different if you disagreed or even said, 'I don't think you can support this statement' but the whole "I can't understand hat you are even talking about" schtick smells like serious BS to me.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe.

Jim said...

I rather agree with where Rory's coming from.

I wasn't there. I've never been close. I can certainly have my opinions, and I do... but the folks who should be commenting on this right now are those who have been there, and are in that group. It's a lot like when people criticize a cop's actions based on a dash cam video or some cell phone video of the incident. There are just some things that you don't comment upon until or unless you have standing.

Note that this doesn't mean that you can't address the overall situation. Our civilian leadership sets the overall rules for our military and police forces. They have the right and authority to demand investigations, and demand that a service sets appropriate standards of conduct.

Andy said...

Anonymous, He said he doesn't understand, if you really want to have a dissussion, you can explain it to him and have a discussion about that (See karrde's comment)

All I've seen you doing is insulting him...that is if all those Anonymous comments are from the same person

Ernie said...

Oohrah.

Charles James said...

To some, Man up .... to others, ignorance is bliss .....

I are one and if you are not one, please remain silent.

Rory is correct, this is for the Marines to fix .... trust me, they will.

Often it is the actions of so few that mar so many.

Kai Jones said...

Charles James: That is also exactly what somebody covering up corruption would say, which is why we, as a society, cannot allow self-policing.

I would think that any organization which values honor would demand outside, third-party investigation. An open process ensures that bad people cannot hide.

Anonymous said...

Well America has a pretty appalling military record. Look at the way they are murdering Iranian Atomic scientists, and killing innocent folks with drone missiles. This comes as no surprise, but there will be payback, just as there was when that poor Iraqi girl was raped and murdered in front of her parents. When the next 9/11 happens you will know exactly why

Jim said...

If the organization in question demands accountability from its people, whether in the form of an outside investigation or an internal investigation -- that's their business and their job.

Again, in the US, there is a role for the civilian leadership of our military to demand that the services (or law enforcement agencies) expect their people to be accountable, and to hold that leadership accountable.

Charles James said...

A warrior is and always has been the person or person(s) who step out onto a battlefield to engage warriors there for the same reasons, engagement. Once a body of persons decide the need to engage in war, requiring two opposing body of persons who cannot come to a mutual understanding, they decide to engage in some place at some time for some morally just reason. Neither side is either right or wrong, just different. It has and always will be the desire of all warriors that the two bodies of peoples will come to a peaceful resolution. When that fails they are ready and willing to enter the battlefield.

Once the enter that field of battle all personal considerations are submerged for the greater good, honor among warriors. To achieve objectives for strategies and tactics of the battle is the only goal. Take that hill, engage that enemy and defeat or subdue and win the many battles to achieve victory over the other warriors.

Warriors who face warriors are guided by a code of the warrior. An unwritten code for both sides that takes no political, religious or personal view but simply a code of honor among warriors - all warriors regardless. These codes are not meant to lessen any codes governed by the body of peoples but rather to make sure the warrior does not step across the line.

Marines have a code of the warrior. Marines know that they must, beyond all else, hold that code of the warrior close to and dearly to the heart. It is the most important aspect of being a Marine and it is to be held above all else or it subverts and destroys the warrior, the Marine.

Regardless of the driving forces that brought these two great warrior tribes to the field the warriors both have the same code of the warrior. It consists of respect and admiration for they both were forged by fire into the hardened steel sword of what they perceive as good, just and right.

Once a warrior gives up life on the battlefield the conflict to that warrior is over and all warriors must give the appropriate respect to that warrior. That warrior like our warriors has given the ultimate, their life. This requires and deserves our respect no matter what.

When warriors die the warriors in control over their bodies must adhere to that warriors beliefs, customs and etiquette for the dead. They must take the additional steps to return those warriors to their fellow warriors so they can be honored properly as their customs and beliefs - this is the only honorable way.

Anything else demeans those who contribute to the disrespect imposed. No excuses. It is proper for all warriors to learn the customs and beliefs of those who stand facing us in battle so we can honor the warriors who die at our hands.

As a Marine I will speak from a Marine heart. To defile, desecrate and disrespect a warrior is the greatest sin any Marine can suffer. It is a great sin with no chance of forgiveness. To sin the greatest sin means to lose the respect of your fellow Marines. To be one of the unforgiven. Loss of the title Marine Warrior.

Judgement must come from the highest if there is a chance to redeem world view of our ability to adhere to the code of the warrior, the code of the Marines and the moral standing of our body of peoples who asked our warriors to go into harm's way. We the Marines are being judged today. How will we answer?

sam said...

I'm gonna put this bluntly. . war is ugly annd can make people ugly there is no unspoken code of the warrior that all warriors all through history has followed, only the culture and and spacific taboos that dictated how that person acted in that position in society. Warriors have done some very evil deeds through history and still held their honor in his or her tribe, Ill say this also these marines I believe are not so much getting in trouble for the act of pissing on bodys as for the fact they shot a video of it and put it on the internet, would they be getting in trouble if only they and a few others new? One more thing, once your dead your dead whatever was you is not there anymore, its no more than the dirt on the ground. . Meat for the scavengers. The first and last part of this rant I belive is fact, the second part is just a crummy opinion so call me out on my bullshit if you want.

Ernie said...

The reality of the situation is that the current incarnation of the US Marine Corps has no interest whatsoever in hiding the wrongdoings of its personnel (especially once said incident hits this sort of publicity).

Don't worry, guys. The only thing we try to cover up is how hard we train the new guys, and -that- doesn't even work. These snipers will be dealt with as harshly as possible, and will unfortunately probably find some extra prosecution afterward.

John said...

Some very interesting and passionate comments have been made about this situation. I was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq during some heated times and there were incidents that arose that did not make it to the media’s attention. Each of those issues were handled with regard to those who were mistreated or killed and punishment was delivered to the soldiers who failed to follow the rules of engagement or laws of war. At no point were the incidents swept under the carpet, but they were kept in full view of those in the military or others who wanted to follow the proceedings.

We in the American Military are held to a higher moral responsibility in the eyes of the media, our fellow citizens, and of the countries we are serving in. This has not always been the case with the treatment of American military or civilians. I remember the bodies of Shugart and Gordon being dragged though the streets of Mogadishu; the bodies of the Blackwater security personnel being burned and hung from a bridge in Iraq; two soldiers from the 101st Airborne being beheaded and mutilated, and others the media or public has forgotten about or ignored. How much of an outcry came from and was delivered by the same folks who seem to be acting in a self righteous manner for the punishment of these Marines?

It has been said, war is hell. And it is! Charles James addresses the issues of the role of warriors and soldiers on the battlefield in an insightful manner. Respect shown after the violence of combat is just as important as how it is shown during the fight. Whatever the differences of the two warring parties involved, respect for their fallen comrades needs to be honored. Just as we have the motto to Leave No Man Behind, so we too must allow the enemy to reclaim their dead in like manner to grieve, mourn, and honor their fallen warriors.

Those Marines involved will be held responsible and punished. As a police officer we have had incidents in our department that seemed trivial but were addressed and the officers who were in the wrong, who broke department policy, were dealt with accordingly. There was no cover up or attempt to make light of the incident. The situation here will be dealt with by the Marines in the same way and has been pointed out those involved have brought dishonor to themselves and their fellow Marines. The only way honor can be restored is to face the punishment in the light of day and move forward. The 99% are still honorable and courageous men and women who will bear the burden and shame of the less than 1% who acted without thought or regard for their actions.

And since none of us was there we do not know the entire story. All we can do is leave a comment or opinion here and then “have a nice cup of STFU.”

sam said...

I dont know I think they shouldent be punished at all I mean I dont condone their actions but I dont get the honor dishonor thing, why would anybody whos been in combat care what other people think of them? I dont know mabey I have know idea what Im talking about, mabey Im just speaking out of my ass, I, joining as soon as I can and I dont really give a damn what happens to my body if Im killed just burn it or through it in ditch I dont need some stupid funeral. Call me out on my shit if you want but this is just how I feel.

kenpokiwi said...

Hey Rory, talk about a can of worms! It's all relative and everybody's right and wrong. Even Anonymous Said has a case in his eyes. This whole issue references many of the things you have bloged on over the years. My/our Kool-aid is not his/their Kool-aid. I think it all comes down to de-humanizing the "enemy". They are alot easier to kill that way. I also beleive that people that write about the honor and glory of being a "warrior" haven't spent alot of time trying to keep their best friend's intestines in his body or looked for any kind of hole when caught out in the open and taking fire. Just my two cents and probably not worth that.

Jay Gischer said...

I am not a Marine, I have no military background whatsoever. Nevertheless, I stand in relation to the Marines. They wear the flag on their shoulders - my flag. I pay taxes that pay their salary. I participate - by voting - in the government that sent them there.

If they, or someone else in a similar situation, does something that I don't like, I have to consider: Silence gives consent. Silence endorses it. I do not consent, I do not endorse this action.

However, there is a difference between actor and action. I don't condemn the institution, or even the individual, merely the act.

It's not up to me to fix this. I don't think the USMC is a broken institution, just one that contains individuals who made mistakes. I expect them to fix it.

Olli said...

War is too important a matter to be left to military men.

This incident affects people outside the military. It can not be considered an internal matter of the USMC, and civilians are entitled to have and express opinions about it.

If the media reports the matter in biased and unfair manner, the solution is better reporting—not STFU.

Anonymous said...

The only reason this is "desecration" is because it was filmed and posted to the net. If it hadent been nobody would have known.

While it was stupid an wrong, this is hardly "desecration" in the sense that someone would have known that the bodies were mutilated a la burning, hanging from bridges, limbs severed etc...

Steve Perry said...

I just have to wonder -- have done so aloud -- why people will get all bent out of shape about pissing on a dead guy compared to making the guy dead?