American commentators, public officials and the Taliban expressed outrage over a video that appeared last week showing U.S. Marines urinating on the dead corpses of enemy Taliban combatants. But was the act any worse than killing Taliban fighters with drone strikes?
On this week’s “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace asked his panel of Juan Williams, Brit Hume, Kirsten Powers and Bill Kristol whether the Taliban had any standing to lecture Americans on what’s despicable considering their “terrible record of brutal behavior including beheadings.”
This led to a debate between Williams and Hume over whether urinating on the dead Taliban members was any worse than killing them:
WILLIAMS: No, it doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t be abiding by at Taliban standard. We have our own standards as Americans and I mean clearly, this was a despicable act. Bill [Kristol] will acknowledge that.
WILLIAMS: I think it was despicable to desecrate the dead. I don’t see how you can describe it as anything but despicable.
HUME: We eliminate people with drone attack, kill them. Despicable?
WILLIAMS: No, it depends if they are the enemy — no, not despicable. And in a matter of the war killing people, I am afraid is part of the transaction.
HUME: You kill them it is fine, but when they are dead and no longer around, if you do something to the body, that’s worse?
WILLIAMS: Not worse. You make the judgment.
HUME: No, you make the judgment.
WILLIAMS: I said it was despicable. In my judgment urinating on a dead person is despicable.
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Powers challenged Hume’s argument.
“That’s just an unfair argument and this is the one conservatives are always dragging out whenever liberals make criticisms of things like this is like, ‘Oh, we kill people and so therefore we can do anything to them,” Powers said. “It is despicable. You can say that it is despicable and still like you can kill people in war. The point is, it is conduct unbecoming an officer.”
Later Hume questioned the Obama administration’s attempts to deal with the Taliban, wondering whether they are seeking to strike a deal because they believe it is a path to victory or whether they are just doing whatever they can to get out of Afghanistan no matter the cost.
“You got to be suspicious of the peace talks the Taliban,” Hume said.
“Can you count on the Taliban to abide by any agreement you make with them? I doubt it. On top of that you wonder about this administration with its seeming eagerness to diminish the military and to end these commitments because the base of the Democratic Party hates it, hates them. Whether they want to enter into peace talks because they think it’s a way to get to solution and victory we want or because they want to get out?”