Urination and Umbrage

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 8:53 PM

[Taki’s Magazine]

Should we seek the larger and deeper meaning in the YouTube video where U.S. Marines are seen urinating upon the dead bodies of Taliban combatants in the wilds of Afghanistan? What does this episode tell us about ourselves and the country in which we live? What does it say about official Washington and the unspeakable hypocrites who are in charge of the lone surviving Superpower? What does it demonstrate about Washington's self-destructive crusade, kicked off by 9/11, the so-called "war on terror" and "clash of civilizations" phenomenon? The big picture is important. 

In the grand scheme of things, the incident itself is trivial, albeit symbolic. Such conduct is illegal under the Geneva conventions and contrary to U.S. military regulations, and is considered by some to be a war crime. Nonetheless, it might be comparable to the drunken acts at a rogue fraternity house. But these Marines were not drunk, just acting like idiots. They were showing off. How to explain it?

Should we expect more from the Marines? In a perfect world, of course. The only excuse is, the Marines were doing little more than aping the attitudes and lawlessness of their superiors on high, the politicians and functionaries back in Washington who have launched a fool's errand across the greater Middle East and Southwest Asia. The Marines are among those unlucky expendables on that errand.

In their own small way, the Marines in the video were doing their part to carry out Washington's grandiose foreign policy objectives, post Cold War. As such, their actions reflect the sorry, neoconservative mindset of the Washington foreign policy establishment, whose hubris has impacted the troops. It's embarrassing but entirely understandable.

The smart operators at the top of the pyramid thrive on secrecy, misdirection and outright lies. It got them where they are. They are sticking with it. The foot soldiers in the field doing the dirty work, on the other hand, are more honest and less mature. They don't have law degrees from Yale and Harvard for one thing. Moreover, thanks to a wonder of modern technology, the cellphone camera, the Marines made the mistake of flaunting their misdeed via YouTube to the world at large.

And now official Washington goes through the act of being outraged. Who are they kidding? How can the Marines be criticized by "our elites" for symbolically carrying out U.S. foreign policy objectives? That's what I want to know. After all, were not the deceased Taliban "terrorists"? That's what we've been told. That is the premise of our involvement. 

In this regard, I'm thinking in particular of Hillary Rodham "hell to pay" Clinton, the esteemed Secretary of State for Peace Prize Obama. This highly overrated woman must be the biggest hypocrite in Washington, only because she has been in town longer than Mr. Peace Prize.

H.R. Clinton has not faced such a challenging public relations problem since the night Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010, guns blazing. The official U.S. position at that time was (and remains) all in favor of Israel blockading Gaza--more "terrorists”, don't you see?--but Washington wanted to distance itself from the killings which went with that joint, coordinated policy. 

Mr. Peace Prize ran for the tall grass, leaving H.R. Clinton to remark from the State Department on June 1st, 2010: "I think the situation from our perspective is very difficult and requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned." Blah, blah, blah. In translation, Washington can't do a thing, indeed, must not do a thing. 

In the case of the urinating Marines, Ms. Clinton had a different narrative. She decided to be less circumspect and measured. And yet, the PR nightmare confronting the U.S. Secretary of State was essentially the same like with the Mavi Marmara, twenty-one months previous: how to keep the natives in the region from overreacting negatively to the ongoing war efforts undertaken by Washington and its partners against "terrorists", dissidents, and other reprobates. 

Clinton proclaimed  on January 12, 2012 that she was in "total dismay" over the urination incident. She condemned the "deplorable behavior" of the Marines reflected in the video and went on to warn that, "...anyone, anyone, who is found to have participated or known about it...must be held fully accountable…." She demanded a thorough investigation with heads to roll.

The change of approach is noteworthy. You could argue in this instance that U.S. personnel were directly involved and that there is more at stake for the U.S. in Afghanistan. Palestinians locked up in Gaza, after all, are a minor issue for Washington. Few in America care or even know about it.

Here’s the problem at the moment. Obama's "right war" in Afghanistan, as distinguished from the Cheney/Bush "wrong war" in Iraq, is in disarray and breaking bad, so bad in fact that Washington is getting ready to sit down for peace talks. Marines acting like frat house blockheads might complicate things.

It is far more important, it seems to me, when top officials in Washington such as H.R. Clinton and Peace Prize Obama act in an unintelligent manner. This has been going on for decades, supported by both political parties. It is now routine. It's called malfeasance. Washington is entirely responsible for putting the U.S. Marines and NATO troops in Afghanistan and keeping them there far too long. We have become bogged down in a hopeless quagmire, after al-Qaeda evaporated from the country.

Retired Marine General James Jones, former National Security Advisor for Mr. Obama, stated in October 2009 that there were less than 100 al-Qaida members in all of Afghanistan. U.S. Marines and NATO troops are not fighting "terrorists" in Afghanistan. They are fighting a home-grown insurgency made up of ethnic Pashtuns, who represent the majority tribe of the country, and who regard the Karzai government in Kabul as illegitimate and installed by infidels. In sum, this is a civil and tribal war which the U.S. has injected itself into.

No wonder a handful of Marines are confused and have acted in a bizarre, aberrant fashion. Their confusion mirrors the greater befuddlement and intellectual bankruptcy at the seat of power in Washington. My guess is that the Marines do not understand what the hell they are doing in Afghanistan. They do not know what the actual mission is. They are not alone. Neither do the Yale and Harvard policymakers at the White House, State Department and Pentagon. Let's see what happens next. Like the video, it may not be pretty. 

--Copyright 2012 Patrick Foy--