The video of Marines urinating on Taliban corpses does not in any way diminish my respect for the armed forces. But the behavior should be strongly condemned — and certainly not praised.
When Rep. Ron Paul argues that foreign intervention leads to unintended consequences, he’s not entirely wrong. But the benefits of intervention, I would argue, often outweigh the costs. Killing a terrorist, for example, may foment anti-American sentiment among members of his family — but it also takes a bad guy off the field.
Likewise, one could argue the use of enhanced interrogation techniques harms the image of the United States, thus endangering other Americans. But these techniques (which were rarely deployed, I might add) ostensibly serve the larger purpose of providing vital intelligence information. With stakes so high, one might reasonably conclude the possible benefits outweigh the costs.
But what possible benefit does desecrating enemy corpses serve? — other than to radicalize other terrorists — and to provide our enemies with talking points and propaganda photos? (Oh yeah, it also fosters the notion that America is no different from the rest of the barbaric world — that we are simply about imposing our power, not liberating oppressed people or defending our citizens.)
In a perfect world, our warriors would operate clinically. Like professionals, they would follow orders, dispassionately removing cancers, never allowing emotion to creep into their decisions. It is understandable, of course, that men — faced with the horrors of war (our enemies are evil people who do horrible things!) — sometimes fall far short of that high standard.
But this was dancing in the end zone.
The men who did this are not heroes. They have acted selfishly, harmed their team, potentially endangered Americans, and set back the cause of freedom — all to blow off some steam and maybe have a little fun.
And they should be penalized for it.