Who's to Blame for Urinating Marines?
By Dennis Loo (1/15/12)
The four U.S. Marines shown on video urinating on the dead bodies of Afghanis, allegedly Taliban fighters, has sparked heated debate in this country and sparked outrage in the world. In an MSNBC story entitled: “Extreme war stresses to blame in Marine urination video?” Eugenia Weiss, a USC psychologist is quoted at the beginning of the story supporting the story’s headline:
“The act of urinating on the dead bodies ‘could be a coping mechanism in dealing with a very difficult situation,’ Weiss said. ‘Or it could be this sense of vengeance, because a lot of troops in combat have lost comrades in the line of duty, or even post deployment from suicide or have later died from injuries. So there can be this great sense of vengeance. And that certainly can turn twisted.’
“She also said it may have simply ‘started as a lewd joke, and often times that can get carried too far, you get a group dynamic that kicks in, and perhaps vengeance.’"
Another psychologist at Clark University, Michael Addis, echoes Weiss in the story, saying that wars are “inherently traumatic.”
Disagreeing with them is Col. Jack Jacobs, an NBC News analyst and a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War who says that there is no excuse for this, calling the four Marines “idiots.”
The Obama Administration has criticized the Marines’ actions as “deplorable” and GOP candidate Rick Perry has in turn criticized the Obama administration for “over-the-top rhetoric” and said the soldiers deserve no more than a reprimand.
What is not mentioned in these media stories or by these public officials or cited psychologists or veterans is the following:
First, these soldiers are acting out the views of those who launched and continue these wars, that is, the highest levels of the U.S. government and U.S. military brass. As egregious as these soldiers’ behavior is, they are the lesser of the criminals responsible for these immoral, illegal and unjust wars. The lead criminals are Bush, Cheney, Obama, Clinton, et al. They are the ones who created and continue these wars and they are the ones who have trained these soldiers to think of the people they are killing as subhuman. The MSNBC story cites retired Army Sgt. Maj. Herb Freidman, “an author and authority on psychological operations”: ‘They are murderers and terrorists that think nothing of blowing up soldiers, civilians, women and children. What have they done to deserve our respect? There are Marines being killed and maimed on a daily basis by these people. They are flying in from Muslim countries all over the world to get their crack at martyrdom. If some Marine that fought them in battle fair and square feels that he has the right to urinate on a defeated enemy, what is the problem? Hell, it could be worse....’” What Friedman conveniently forgets is that these Marines are “flying in” from outside of Afghanistan and it is they who are the occupiers.
Second, wars are not separate and apart from the politics and economics that brought them on. As destructive as they are, wars are not utterly capricious and random acts of violence without any rhyme or reason. Wars, as Clausewitz famously described them, are a continuation of politics by other, violent, means. That means that the politics that brought on the wars also characterize the wars themselves: why the wars are being carried out, why they continue, how they are being carried out, and so on. Those who think that anything goes in a war misunderstand or choose to misunderstand this fundamental fact. Those who excuse the behavior of these Marines as due to the stresses of wars and even those who call them idiots miss this point. These “idiots” are acting out the idiocies of their officers and of their commanders. Those who do not oppose these wars as war crimes are missing the point.
As I wrote in the last chapter of my book, Globalization and the Demolition of Society:
“People now in charge possess hubris in the classic meaning of the term—they do not believe that their adversaries are capable of being imaginative, ambitious, or brave, even in the face of dramatic and repeated evidence to the contrary. This is a blind spot on their part, not one which every single person in charge is guilty of, but one that pervades and dominates the institutional culture; empires tend to think in these ways. Why would you, if you were the top dogs after all, ascribe admirable attributes to your adversaries, whom you regard as your inferiors? This is one of empires’ central weaknesses; it is also one of the reasons why even those people who are not in favor of revolutionary change need to think very carefully about which side they are choosing to support. The empire does not really care about your individual fate and is doing things daily that jeopardize people’s lives and the planet’s welfare and viability.
“Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark.” (Pp. 326-327)
And in the concluding passage of my book, there is this:
"[D]ifferent classes and different groups have different material interests, and those material interests are reflected in ideologies, values, beliefs, and their pursuit of their group’s interests. Recognizing the parameters of different ideologies and how they serve different classes and groupings within those classes is critical to developing an ability to see beneath the surface to the essence of any social issue and social struggle. Put in more common parlance, there are vested interests, and those interests are expressed or articulated by the leading spokespeople for those groups. The bottom line, the fundamental division in our society, is between, on the one hand, those whose interests rest upon dominance and the drive towards monopolizing the society and planet’s resources and, on the other hand, those whose interests lie in the husbanding of those resources for the good of the whole rather than the part. The startling evidence of the neoliberals’ bankruptcy surrounds us everyday, and grows starker as time moves on. Their attacks on the people grow more vociferous and damaging by the day. The prospect of a radically different future from that spreading nightmare exists in embryonic form today.
“Which path will be taken? The world awaits. The future beckons. Who will answer the call?” (p. 357)