Granted, it's not civil palace etiquette or, more important, U.S. military doctrine to urinate on battle-killed enemy fighters -- in this case, three dead Taliban in Afghanistan. But could we just move on?
Most distressing is watching the International Security Assistance Force's PR machinery crank up. The desecration of Taliban bodies -- killed according to ISAF orders and assorted United Nations-NATO-focus-group preferences -- is of immeasurably greater concern than the recent cold-blooded murder of a 20-year-old U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, shot in the head while playing volleyball by an Afghan army member. (Three other Americans were wounded.) By my unofficial count, this makes Kill No. 43 of NATO forces by Afghan security forces inside the wire over the past two years.
Also distressing is the fact that such deadly Afghan assaults against the very nations that shore up Hamid Karzai's crummy government don't get a rise out of the Afghan leader. This freak videotaped incident, however, does. Years of all-too-faithful sacrifice by U.S. and allied forces to end the jihad in Afghanistan count for nothing; years of restrictive rules of engagement designed to save Afghan lives at the expense of Western lives are disregarded. And forget about the billions of dollars spent by the West to build an Afghanistan of unimaginable grandiosity. Karzai has.
Rather than calm passions, Karzai stokes them: "The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans."
Afghans, Taliban -- no distinction.
Karzai continued: "This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms. We expressly ask the U.S. government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime."
But don't mention the frequent Afghan shootings of U.S. and other infidel soldiers. Their wounds and deaths (not indignity after death) are not worth condemning. Or noticing. They're just what happens in war ("counterinsurgency"); what happens on the battlefield (volleyball court); what happens to men who break down in battle under stressful conditions (watching a volleyball game).
The four American service members videotaped somewhere on patrol, quite possibly after a harrowing firefight, however, are "inexplicable" monsters. ISAF said as much in language that, for an official press release, verges on the hysterical. "ISAF Denounces Deplorable Act Portrayed in Video" is the headline. The release says:
"A video recently posted on a public website appears to show U.S. military personnel committing an inappropriate act with enemy corpses.
"This disrespectful act is inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces. ISAF strongly condemns the actions depicted in the video, which appear to have been conducted by a small group of U.S. individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan.
"Nevertheless, this behavior dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every service member representing the 50 nations of the coalition."
I strenuously object to this grotesque inflation of such an incident to the magnitude of dishonoring all ISAF forces, up to and including their immense "sacrifices" --nearly 3,000 dead and tens of thousands more wounded and damaged. It doesn't dishonor their "core values," either. In fact, it has nothing to do with such values, which beat the Taliban's every time, from child rape (sanctioned by polygamous "marriage"), to normalized pederasty (dancing boys), beheadings, Islamic male supremacism and zero freedom of conscience. I would bet that these Taliban values -- shared, by the way, by average Afghans -- played some role in the videotaped act of contempt.
The ISAF reaction, however, is to grovel. In so doing, it does more to weaken the morale and safety of troops than anything I can imagine. Except, of course, making a global disciplinary example of these haplessly outed military personnel.
I'm afraid that's coming. The ISAF release concludes: "Therefore, a United States Criminal Investigatory agency has launched an investigation. It will be thorough, and any individuals with confirmed involvement will be held fully accountable."
Look out. Incoming fire from ourselves.