9 August 2013, 15:30

US marine's demotion for urinating on Taliban bodies opens way to further Afghan humiliation

морская пехота морпехи США талибы тела трупы надругательство

A US Marine sergeant who was videotaped urinating on dead Taliban insurgents, an incident that stoked ire last year toward US forces in Afghanistan, has been reduced to the rank of corporal, not even losing his medical retirement benefits. Despite promises given back in early 2012, by the then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, to hold those involved, "accountable to the fullest extent", most of the marines have escaped severe punishment and were allowed to retire quietly. This really reflects the general policy line towards Afghans who are, it seems, not regarded as equally human by most of the US military.

The incident with four US marines urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters took place in July 2011, in Helmand province and went public in January, 2012. After the video was shown on YouTube, it caused a serious deterioration in the US–Afghan relationship. More so, apart from being outrageous from a moral point of view, it raised indignation among Afghans leading to an increase in attacks against foreign invaders, thus putting more American soldiers' lives at risk.

As soon as the video went viral on YouTube, the then Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, described the marines' behavior as "utterly deplorable" and promised that; "Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent."

In fact, eight US marines were brought to trial but most of them escaped severe punishment, either being demoted one rank, or fined ridiculously low sums of not more than $500.

Sergeant (now corporal) Robert Richards, whose trial ended in a court martial session at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Thursday, was the last of the eight.

Earlier in mid-July this year, another marine involved in the incident, Sgt. Joseph Chamblin, who had been fined and demoted in December 2012, openly boasted of what he had done on the North Carolina-based WSOC-TV Channel 9.

Explaining that his and his comrades' urinating on the bodies was if anything; “…more of a psychological effect on the enemy because if an infidel touches the body, they're not going to Mecca or paradise. So, now these insurgents see what happens when you mess with us."

Elaborating further, Chamblin added, that "hell, no"! He does not regret it. "I didn't do it to be appreciated," he said in conclusion. "I did it because I love my country and what America stands for. I don't regret my service".

Apart from being only slightly reprimanded, Sgt. Chamblin utilized the situation to its utmost; in September, he will retire "without regrets" and is now writing a book, "Into Infamy", which is sure to contain even more stories depicting US Marines' attitudes to their adversaries.

In fact, when you come to think of the whole sorry tale, there is little surprise that the Marines were only slightly reprimanded, have no regrets and even boast of urinating on Taliban they had killed, "because they love their country". The country itself in the person of its two consecutive administrations has demonstrated that it is ready to execute a wide range of desecrating acts and not only on Afghans but on the whole global community.

It is then no wonder that the whole Muslim world has turned against the US with the latter frantically closing its diplomatic missions in the Great Middle East – from Maghreb to Pakistan.

The recent de facto acquittal of the US marines simply signifies that the general guideline of US policy will not change and so we should expect more incidents demonstrating the total humiliation of Afghans and others and the neglect of their beliefs and traditions.

As for Sgt. Chamblin and the like who simply followed suit and now "do not regret their service", only one thing may be said, "Tell me who you serve and I tell you who you are".

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

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