A video emerges showing US Marines pissing on three Taliban corpses in Afghanistan. The outrage machine grinds into motion. The media bestirs itself from its slumber. Americans momentarily pay attention to the war in Afghanistan again. Politicians rush to add their names to the chorus of identical statements. All inflamed over the least bad thing that soldiers do in war.
Do you know what is worse than having your dead body urinated upon? Being killed. Being shot. Being bombed. Having your limbs blown off. Having your house incinerated by a drone-fired missile that you don't see until it explodes. Having your children blown up in their beds. Having your spouse killed. Having your hometown destroyed. Being displaced. Becoming a refugee. Having your entire life destroyed as a consequence of political forces far, far beyond your control.
War is horrible. War is sickening. Wars started for supremely righteous causes are just as horrible and sickening in their consequences as wars started for less than righteous causes. Politicians who sit in office chairs and start wars and wave flags as young men and women go off to kill and die and be psychologically and emotionally damaged for life are the most sickening of all. Politicians start wars and are rewarded with an appearance on weekend talk shows and Very Respectable Discussions with Very Respectable media figures and jokes at the White House Correspondent's Dinner and appearances on Leno and ghostwritten self-glorifying memoirs and lavishly catered fundraising parties with corporate executives. They should be rewarded with outrage. They should be rewarded with scorn. Starting a war is a monstrous, monstrous crime against humanity, as we know when it begins that no matter how cleanly it is conducted it will result in thousands upon thousands of bullets smashing men's skulls and arms and legs blown off by shrapnel and mothers and children incinerated by high explosives. And every extra day that a war is perpetuated unnecessarily is a crime anew.
And we as a nation could not be more bored by the unceasing industrial strength violence being carried out in our names in nations where none of us will travel, or vacation, or think about much at all as long as sports and American Idol and Downton Abbey are on TV. We skim past those stories of the latest bombing or drone strike or gunfight or civilian massacre. We joke about the personal foibles or funny accents or minor gaffes of the politicians who hold it in their power to stop war, but won't. We're bored and petulant and self-absorbed until that video of some soldier pissing on dead bodies comes along, at which point we can have an outrage contest and feel good about ourselves for being more outraged than the next completely uninvolved person, for a day or two, until the big game comes on.
Here's what else happened in Afghanistan this week: "The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of four Soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Jan. 6 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Killed were: Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis, Ind.; Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind.; Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.; Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind."
"The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Pfc. Michael W. Pyron, 30, of Hopewell, Va., died Jan. 10 in Parwan province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 25th Signal Battalion, 160th Signal Brigade, 335th Signal Command Theater, East Point, Ga."
"The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Pfc. Dustin P. Napier, 20, of London, Ky., died Jan. 8 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from enemy small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska."
"The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three airmen who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died Jan. 5 in Shir ghazi, Helmand province, Afghanistan, when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Killed were: Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa. He was assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich. He was assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron, FE Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.; Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md. He was assigned to the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo."
And all of the dead bodies on the other side. We just don't have the names.
Piss on that.