Controversy is again surrounding the U.S. military with the most recent viral video of Marines urinating on dead Taliban (video below), an action which is defined as a war crime by the Geneva conventions and has been called “deplorable” by Defense Secretary Leon and promised a full investigation.
This is not the first time that U.S. forces have drawn attention to themselves for similar acts, adding to their already-lengthy record of violating human rights in the Middle East. Human rights violations like this one only add to a record which not only tarnishes America’s reputation but also can derail many U.S. efforts in the Middle East.
In a war crime last year committed by the Army, 11 soldiers were convicted of the murders of three Afghan civilians by a “kill squad” led by a squad commander in which those accused collected the deceased’s body parts as war trophies and posed with them for pictures. The incident was described as killing “for sport.”
These incidents of course are reminiscent of another major human rights incident in 2004, when Army personnel posed with hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in what amounted to physical and psychological sexual abuse. It sparked national media frenzy, after pictures of the abuse were broadcasted, which enraged and sickened many Americans.
It is these actions that have stained not only the mind of Americans but of people around the world. When picturing U.S. forces, people will inevitably imagine men and women who have formed a habit of and derive great pleasure from torturing prisoners and citizens on countless occasions. This will be the reputation that precedes any diplomatic conversation with the United States, creating more hurdles for foreign relations than necessary.
The video of the Marines urinating on dead Taliban surfaces at a time of delicate talks between American-led coalition forces and the Taliban, attempting to bring greater political stability to Afghanistan. While Taliban officials said that the video controversy will not affect the talks, it is an incident which will inevitably remain in the forefront of their minds any time the mention of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan arises.
What’s to stop a country’s leader and officials from trusting the U.S. forces, when the men and women who claim to uphold our nation’s standards do nothing of the sort? With a reputation of abuse, there is no reason other countries should turn towards the U.S. military for help or support. Diplomatic conversations cannot and will not be taken seriously with a group of people who show no respect to others, a serious hindrance to any kind of political agenda the country could have hoped to have.
Warning: Video Is Graphic
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons