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Urinating Marines


Tennyson Joseph

Urinating Marines

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Last week the international news was dominated by images of four United States Marines showering the dead bodies of fallen Afghan Taliban soldiers with verbal abuse and urine.
Whilst United States military officialdom has been quick to denounce their actions as being outside normal United States Armed Forces policy and behaviour, such actions can be seen as the logical culmination of the conditioning of a group of men whose life chances have placed them as the front line cannon fodder of a racist, militaristic, imperialist world power, which today finds itself without a global military equal, yet facing economic collapse.
What has proven troubling for the Americans is not the action itself, but its global exposure. The use of technology has revealed to babes what has always been well known to the wise and prudent, at least those in military circles.
Once again, as with Wikileaks, the technology of globalisation has been used in a popular democratic manner, inducing further discomfort to imperialism. 
The official response by the US military therefore is nothing more than a mandatory PR reflex, devoid of any sincere indignation or incredulity at the action’s occurrence, nor of any genuine intent to remove the structural, cultural or historical conditioning which induced the soldiers to act in the way that they did.
Nor is the United States itself concerned with any global backlash, given that it has arrogantly avoided membership in the International Criminal Court. Thus, whilst the Unites States is always loud in calling for the prosecution of enemy world leaders before global courts of justice, it has remained outside the jurisdiction of such global bodies.  
Ironically, therefore, while Gaddafi and others have often been held responsible for the actions of individual soldiers on the battlefield, United States presidents and military leaders aided by the world Press have always been able to separate the foot soldiers from the leadership where such cases attract world attention.  
The individual soldiers, repugnant as their actions have been, cannot be held singly responsible for their behaviour. 
These young men, high on their false sense of just occupation and other courage-inducing, mind-altering substances, fed from birth on notions of America as a champion of freedom and surrounded by a world of savage peoples who need to be civilised into democracy, have acted according to their training.
When an alien population is so thoroughly “othered” to the point of being non-human, should we be surprised that their dead will not be accorded the respect reserved for “normal human beings”?  
It is easier on everyone’s consciences to blame the individual soldiers. This is typical conservative thinking which places the blame for society’s failures on the individual rather than on the broader systemic realities.
The poor (person) is blamed for his poverty, while the system escapes censure.  
It’s time for new thinking. Forward Ever!
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus specializing in regional affairs. Email [email protected]

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