I imagine most people who saw the clip of the American soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of their enemies were dismayed to some degree. The words outrage and anger were bandied about in the media. I did not feel outraged. The word that most closely describes the way I felt was crestfallen; sadness tinged with disappointment. Yes, I know incidents of this kind (and far worse) are inevitable in war but I live in hope. My emotional response changed to anger on seeing Hilary Clinton’s predictable condemnation of the four soldiers.
I’m probably prejudiced but I find Hilary Clinton’s school mistress delivery hard to take. The po-faced way she has of lecturing other nations about human rights is, from a country that condones torture and has enough weapons of mass destruction to blow up the world, more than a little hypocritical.
Clinton typifies recent American, British and French political attitudes to war. Killing is beastly but somehow less beastly if there are no “boots on the ground.” Sure, every effort is made to ensure killer drones only blast hell out of the enemy’s military but collateral damage (slaughter of civilian families) is nevertheless a predictable logistic.
So expressing outrage about the behaviour of soldiers sent to kill is a pretence. Not only because far more serious incidents are hushed up but because we all know these soldiers are fighting to the death, terrified of being ripped in half by bombs, of being blinded, disfigured, or worse, captured. Clinton cannot seriously expect them to abide by Queensbury rules. With adrenaline pumping out fear, anger and revenge is it really any wonder that once the enemy is defeated some triumphant soldiers dismay us by pissing on the bodies of men who can no longer terrify them?
Politicians back in the office may comport themselves like ladies and gentlemen. They don’t have to deal with feelings of terror or revenge. All they have to do is sign the papers that give them the right to kill in safety, by proxy.