I was dismayed to see the news article about American service personnel posing a la hunting trophy poses with dead (alleged) civilians in Afghanistan. I'm not making an excuse for what looks downright tasteless and disappointing. I say looks, and not only that, this is such a tiny fragment of what our armed forces are doing overseas. In our if-it-bleeds,-it-leads media culture, perception is reality and someone very desperately wants everyone to see how ugly Americans really are.
Since the camera was invented, it has been used to document the demise of ne'er do wells. It was common in the old west for former bad guys, pining for the fjords, to pose for formal photography, sometimes with solemn lawmen redolent of the gravity and dignity called for on that occasion. This practice was carried well into the 20th century. Google images bonnie, clyde and dead and see what you find.
Further, just yesterday, I read a news article in the British press about gallows humour, and that-- however tasteless-- humour is and was ever thus a method for dealing with having experienced (or heard about) unimaginable horrors.
In that vein, I will say this: I don't know what the men in the photos experienced that led to that moment, and I am heartsick at the atrocity of it all, but I'm also not going to judge them where I don't know the whole story.
I will, however, be awaiting the spittle-flecked vitriolic harangues from the Village Voice decrying the president because he knew, he knew he HAD TO HAVE known! He was IN on it! He encouraged them to behave thusly.
Yeah, I know: *crickets*
Will Cindy Sheehan be flying to exotic locales to protest outside whatever posh hotel is hosting the Great One? Somehow, I think not.
Meanwhile, I remember images of thronging masses of Somalis celebrating in the street as the mangled corpse of an American was dragged through the village nearly 20 years ago. The locals cheered and celebrated. Meanwhile, we're supposed to be the good-natured, slow-to-anger, grin-and-bear-it sort. Somehow, a corpse block-party and step show looks far more barbaric to me than a few instances of an individual posing with long-pig that has given up the ghost. In scale of atrocity, these are light-years apart, in my book.
War is an ugly thing wherein people are assigned the odious task of breaking things and killing people. If we send men and women to go about the business of carrying on a campaign, then I think we need to stay out of the way and let them do their job.