MARINES, COCKROACHES, AND CAMERAS
by Andy Weddington
Saturday, 14 January 2012
"There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and will attempt to defeat a man because of his religious beliefs. Such a society is like a cockroach--it thrives in the dark. So do those who combine for such an end." William Howard Taft (27th U. S. President)
No Commentary yesterday not because of any superstitions but merely because the week did not afford time to sit, think, and write. The past week was all about lemons, and more, and seeing the world for what it really is--shapes and colors bumping up against one another, teaching others the same, and showing them there's no magic to the art of painting.
The craziest question directed to me during the week, "Would you teach us how to paint boats?"
The sweetest answers heard to my standard question to new painters, "How's it going?"--"I'm struggling," and "Where's my gun?"
So, my intent for today was a bit about psychology, philosophy, communications, and emotion as all relates to painting. But then a You Tube video hit the net and emails starting rolling in as to whether I intended to comment. I have been thinking about it.
I watched the video a few times. If, for whatever reason, you've been out of touch I'm referring to a 38 seconds clip of U. S. Marines urinating on corpses--believed combatants killed during a gunfight--in Afghanistan.
Preliminary investigative work results provided to the media indicate the dead were indeed enemy. And the Marines have been identified (though their unit was cited that does not really matter). I have no idea how identities came about but I'd not be surprised if the Marines came forward.
There's no argument what the Marines did was contrary to training and the Corps ethos. But what were the extenuating and mitigating circumstances? How long had they been in combat? How many of them have seen friends wounded and killed? How intense was that particular fire fight? Did urinating on the corpses--the cockroaches--not only relieve a full bladder but take their victory to a personal level relieving unimaginable stress? I have no idea and am not making excuses; just trying to understand.
We're talking about young men who've been trained to kill, are fighting for their lives and the lives of their buddies, have likely witnessed all sorts of horror, and yet there's an expectation of civility.
If you have an easy answer for all this, congratulations.
During the 10 years America has been engaged in war in Iraq and Afghanistan, our enemies have burned and hung our dead, dragged our corpses through streets, and beheaded captives--civilian and military. And who knows what else. I don't really want to think about it.
So does the conduct of our Marines desecrating enemy corpses matter?
Consider the reactions of the platoon commander or company commander, and maybe the battalion commander, had they stumbled upon the incident after the battle.
Consider the reactions of generals.
And the reactions of politicians, and anyone else for that matter, seeing the brief clip in the comfort and safety of their home or office, thousands and thousands of miles away, while sipping a steaming cup of coffee to wash down a fresh-baked pastry.
Only because of handy recording technology is 38 seconds falling upon the eyes of folks, world-wide, who don't need to know. And that's too bad. But, good or bad, a reality of the world we live in.
NCIS is investigating. The Marine Corps is investigating and a three star general, appointed by our commandant, will make some decisions. Whether those decisions will be made without the influence, and approval of, higher ups, well, draw your own conclusions.
Allen West (R-FL), a retired Army lieutenant colonel and combat veteran, offered an official comment on the matter: "The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter. As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”
That a camera recorded the incident should not matter.
I disagree with the congressman--he was a soldier not a Marine.
Whatever disciplinary action and/or punishment should be handled at the company level (the first level with formal disciplinary authority). A Marine rifle company commander, a captain, can take care of this. And fairly. The battalion commander involved? No. A general officer letter of reprimand? Are you kidding? Hell no. Make the Marines appear in full dress uniform before their Battalion to apologize and sing our Hymn? No, for one of the fundamental elements of leadership is to praise in public, admonish in private.
Plain and simple, this is, at most, captain's business. Any level higher would be wrong and disproportionate to the 'crime.'
The only thing I agree with the congressman about is his final sentence, "As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”
To the company commander of those Marines, "Take care of it, Skipper."
As for the painting boats question, there is no recipe. Boats look differently early morning, late morning, noon, early afternoon, evening, and night. There must not be 'a way' of doing them, or anything else. Paint the shapes and colors you see. Simple as that!