The outrage over pictures taken by soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division has gone viral.
The president has weighed in on yet another matter when he sent his spokesman Jay Carney to address the behavior of the soldiers: “The conduct depicted in those photographs is reprehensible,” Carney said. “Those responsible will be held accountable.” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has made a profuse apology for the photographs.
I am in full agreement that irreverence toward the deceased is vulgar and inhumane. But I am also reminded of Civil War General Sherman’s quote that emphasized the barbaric nature of war: “War is hell!” Is it fair to apply the same standard of justice and civility for those who are living in this hell? Do the reactions and responses of our politicians indicate that winning a war in which they are willing to sacrifice young lives is far less important than protecting their own political image?
Have the critics experienced the “hell” that is war? It’s easy to apply a justice system formed for a civilized population and apply it to the savagery of the hell that is war. Perhaps the action of the soldiers was “indefensible,” and perhaps they used poor judgment. But a demand for perfect behavior seems unreasonable, considering the fact that many of our young defenders are enduring the unbelievable stress of family separation and the horror of watching some of their comrades perish at the hands of an elusive enemy, an enemy they are taught to hate while being limited in their freedom to pursue and destroy.
I trust the leadership of the U.S. military to discipline its own members when they deem it necessary. I wish our politicians and our press would trust them also.
Again, the actions of the soldiers are unacceptable. But my observation is that the same people who are criticizing their activity are the same people who will defend the murder of innocent unborn infants. If it is wrong for soldiers to take pictures of the body parts of an enemy intent on destroying ‘satanic’ Americans, is it not even more immoral for abortion doctors to rip babies from the wombs of their mothers and hand the parts to their nurses and ask them to reassemble them to be sure all of them were retrieved? One of these activities is grossly immoral because it involves the murder of innocent humans.