Friday, January 13, 2012

Is This Any Way to Win A War?

By now, most have heard (unless they've been living under a rock inside a cave) of the video of four Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban - which recently emerged on Youtube. The video, with one of the captioned images shown, depicts four men in Marine Corps combat gear urinating on 3 corpses, a desecration according to Islam, as well as a war crimes violation of the Geneva Convention for which these characters could face life in prison. (Some news outlets - like The Wall Street Journal- have insisted these guys will only get dishonorable discharges, or maybe 2 years for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but I disagree. If the Geneva Convention means anything it will have to surface here, especially if it is contended - as the U.S. does - that Afghanistan is a real war.) To make it worse, one of the Marines is heard saying: "Have a great day, buddy!"

Now, I ask you, what would the typical red-blooded American make of it if four Taliban were filmed urinating on American Marine corpses? Would the words "go ape shit" mean anything?

Meanhwile, the Defense Department has evidently launched multiple investigations to identify these miscreants and already traced them to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, accord to The Wall Street Journal ('U.S. Attempts to Stem Video Outcry', p. A6, today). Two of the Marines have alredy been identified and face questioning.

The Marine unit involved was evidently deployed in the northern regions of Helman province in Afghanistan, from March through September, 2011. Most examiners of the video suggest it was shot in the spring or early summer. Since then the unit was returned home while a number of officers were shifted to other units.

In many ways, the video brings back disturbing memories of the Abu Ghraib desecrations that occurred in Iraq, which included forced mastrubation of Iraqi prisoners, and sodomizing them by a mixed gaggle of U.S. troops - males and females. The image went round the Arab world and essentially convinced many of what they already believed, that the U.S. forces were little better than the Nazis that invaded Poland in 1939 and desecrated Polish Jews, as they placed them in prisons and makeshift ghettoes. Later images of troops kicking in the doors of Iraqi families, tossing them to the ground and conducting odd raids and searches, as well as rapes, didn't help. These behaviors essentially sealed a loss for whatever positive goals the conflict intended, much like in VietNam.

Some might say these urinating Marines did the same for Afghanistan, but this conflict was lost long ago, probably as early as 2005, when the first massive drone strikes killed hundreds of innocent women and children, including dozens attending a wedding. Even the great Chinese war philosopher Sun Tzu knew that most conflicts are won or lost before being actually fought. And you always lose when you lose the hearts and minds of the peoples you're supposedly saving. So it was with both Afghanistan and Iraq, where we merely pissed trillions of dollars into bottomless corrupt ratholes, while leaving our own domestic needs unattended.

And what did we get for our trouble and all the lives and treasure squandered? Well, nearly 8 of 10 Iraqis who saw us only as occupiers, and nearly the same proportion in Afghanistan. A better way would have been committing millions of dollars to build schools and hospitals, as opposed to sending in tens of thousands of forces - often already tainted with inbuilt prejudices, hailing mainly from the rural South.

Hopefully, especially after the deficit debate rightfully takes a chunk of hide out of the Pentagon, such wars of choice will never be fought again. Well, we said that after Vietnam too, but look how that turned out! As long as the austerity mongers of the Right, and their allied political whores, defense contractors and corporatist vultures seek new ways to grab capital while impoverishing the rest of us, unnecessary wars and conflicts will be the mediums of choice.

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