Pictures of the dead

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Yet again, our glorious and supremely eloquent counterinsurgency strategy stands to be liquidated by the foolishness of our troops in Afghanistan.

Really?  Photos, published by the LA Times,  depict soldiers posing with the remains of a suicide bomber who’d just tried to kill them.  Is it the burning Korans and photos of dead terrorists that’s causing us to lose this war, or is the strategy itself the problem?

Let me be clear that the soldiers did wrong.  The photos (2 years old, I may add) should not have been taken for the purposes of personal collections.  Why? Because it’s the rule.  Mostly, just because it’s the rule and soldiers follow orders.  A breakdown in the ability of troops to follow the rules results in a mob, not a professional army.

But it was not the soldiers who killed the dead terrorist.  He killed himself while trying to kill them.  Do we feel the same way about photos photos taken of dead robbers and criminals in the Old West?

How about photos of gangsters and miscreants from the 20’s and 30s? Remember Bonnie and Clyde?

Michael Yon wrote an article saying we shouldn’t blame the media.   He’s right.  The Soldiers are the first cause of this problem.  But how big of a problem is it?

American soldiers in WWII mailed the skulls of dead Japanese back to their ladies:

And frankly, the sight of the dead insurgent is the historical tool used by rulers to crush uprisings.  Ask the Romans and Vlad Drakul.  Hiding the results of being a terrorist doesn’t help our cause.  The message to all young Afghan and Pakistani males should be that this is what you look like when you strap on a bomb and try to murder people.

Let’s get real.  This is not an atrocity.  This is soldiers breaking an administrative rule.  There should be no talk of kicking them out of the military.  And, the soldier who gave the photos to the LA Times is a weasel.  If he were so concerned, he should have given the photos to his chain of command–years ago.  We need a little more outrage aimed at the culture that breeds these self-immolating haters.  In any event, don’t ask me or other soldiers to like the people that are trying to kill us.  Blog and talk bravely of our philosophy, and cultural sensitivity and all that, but just don’t ask us to hug the dude trying to take me from my kids.  Maybe 10 years from now, but not now.

I’ve spent more time in Afghanistan than most.  I worked along side young soldiers every day.   I never once saw anything like this.  I did not witness any heroic deeds, though there are many in the last ten years that have become heroes.  But I did witness an incredible adherence to duty, to getting the job done, day in, day out, under very uncomfortable circumstances. 20 year old men doing whatever was asked of them, going without real sleep or hot food for days, sleeping in trucks waiting for a car bomb to drive up.  Being dirty for a week at a time.  To say that these photos depict some sort of evil culture within the military is just plain stupid.

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