Incident Blown Out of Proportion: A Deeper Look into U.S. Policy Abroad

Courtesy of Charles McCain via Flickr

As video recently surfaced showing four U.S. Marines urinating over the bodies of three deceased Taliban fighters, U.S. government officials became concerned that this could incite anti-American sentiment around the world.  This public outcry made me realize just how flawed some American’s outlook on the world really is.  This fear is especially focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where U.S. relations have been dwindling as American forces begin their withdrawal from the area, wrapping up an effort to oust the Taliban insurgency.  The possibility of backlash on U.S. interests will remain so long as a significant military presence exists abroad.  While this act certainly does not help American interests overseas, we at home ought to look at this from a different perspective.  Our soldiers risk their lives every single day defending the freedoms that we take for granted.  Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice while others return home knowing their lives will never again be the same.

Critics will argue that there are rules of engagement which must be abided by during times of war, as developed through the treaties signed at the Geneva Convention in 1949. The provisions established at the Geneva Convention were only ratified by independent states. Yet, it is important to understand that in our modern day War on Terror, we are not fighting against a sovereign state but rather guerrilla fighters. We are not fighting a single entity. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for our troops to identify who is a threat to their safety versus who is merely an innocent civilian.  Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have no incentive to recognize an international treaty. 

While it definitely was not a wise decision for our marines to engage in such an act and, even more so, to have it uploaded to YouTube, we need to understand the ways in which the Taliban treats our soldiers along with their utter disregard for human life.  The soldiers unquestionably made a mistake but to go so far as to say it constitutes war crimes or a criminal act is absolutely insane.  Those bodies were people from an organization that supports terrorists that attacked the American homeland and brutally murdered 2,996 American civilians while injuring over 6,000 more.  The idea that we should show respect to deceased terrorists while punishing those who protect us is utterly absurd.

At a time when hostility towards America is increasing all across the globe, it is important that we stand behind those willing to protect the values we stand for.  If in fact, anti-American sentiment does increase because of our treatment of terrorists, it is likely among people that never supported us to begin with. Those who truly are innocent should want nothing to do with the Taliban insurgency and therefore should be fully supportive of our efforts to remove them from Afghanistan and Pakistan.  For far too long, the U.S. government has bought into the ploy of not engaging an insurgent when civilians could be harmed. While our goal clearly is not to destroy their society, we cannot risk loosing one of our soldiers who decides not to shoot at a group because some might not be involved with the insurgency.  If Taliban fighters did the same thing to our troops, they would be lauded as heroes.   So before jumping to conclusions, think of what these men and women go through on a daily basis and do not denounce the actions of a select few without having experienced war firsthand.

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