SYNDICATED COLUMN: The Corpse-Urinating Kids Are Alright

More Jobs for Our Valiant Marine Heroes

“Eighteen, 19-year-old kids make stupid mistakes all too often and that’s what occurred here.”

This was the nuanced reaction of Rick Perry, governor of the supposedly important state of Texas, who has signed dozens of death warrants (at least one for an innocent man), who thinks he deserves to be president, to a video of Marines in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan peeing on dead Afghan resistance fighters.

“Golden, like a shower,” says one.


Amazing to watch how ten years and the catastrophic American military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed our views about the shock troops of American militarism. After 9/11 our sainted soldiers could do no wrong. They were inherently noble. They were heroes. Even liberals said so.

Uneducated and ignorant, yes, but these brave young men and women deserved our gratitude for defending our freedoms against the Islamofascist hordes lest a land bridge somehow appear between the Old and New Worlds. Who cared 85 percent of U.S. troops in Iraq told a 2006 Zogby poll that their mission was “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks”?

They had big hearts. And small brains. The rapists of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, the murderers of Bagram, the rapist-murderers of Haditha? Just a few bad apples.

No longer. Defeat has followed defeat. Each “successful” drone strike against “enemy militants” in Afghanistan and Pakistan gets followed by a sheepish “well, yeah, they were all innocent women and children” press release. War grates on the nerves; losing wars are worse. Why, broke and jobless Americans, are we still spending $1 million a year per soldier to chase down one Al Qaeda #2 after another?

America’s glorious crusade is over. We know the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is to subjugate, terrorize and brutalize the local population. Even state-controlled media admits it.

“There is no question that the Taliban are brutal, including against their own people,” opines The New York Times editorial board. “The 1,000-man battalion lost seven men during its seven months in Helmand. But the stress of combat cannot excuse desecrating corpses—not to mention filming it.”

Love that last emphasis.

How many zillions of times have similar or worse outrages been carried out by soldiers smart enough to keep their camera cellphones in their pockets?

Not to mention the disproportionality. It sucks to lose seven people. Especially if you’re one of them. How many Afghans did that unit kill during those same seven months? They killed four—the ones they peed on—in a single day. As for Taliban brutality—well, they are Afghans. What are we doing over in their country?

Memo to U.S. forces: OK to invade foreign nation that posed no threat. OK to occupy said country for years. OK to impose a corrupt puppet government. OK to kill the locals. Probably OK to piss on them. Just don’t film it.

Of all the many stupid things Rick Perry has said during his political career his defense of the piss-and-vinegar marines rank among one of the smartest. Perry is right: they are dumb kids.

Which prompts a Big Question. We don’t trust kids to drink. Hell, you can’t even rent a car until you’re 25. So why do we outfit a bunch of dumb 18- and 19-year-old kids prone to making “stupid mistakes all too often” with high-powered automatic weapons, then unleash them with a license to kill hapless foreigners?

Thanks to Rick Perry, the answer is clear:

Plausible excusability.

War crimes is just what dumb kids does. No one’s fault. Just is.

This blame-the-brats approach has a lot of potential for America’s hapless ruling class. Like, get rid of the weird cabals of angry old country-club neo-cons. The next time we want to gin up a quagmire from thin air, let’s assign the job of choosing the target and marketing the war to a bunch of dumb 18- and 19-year-olds from West Virginia. Whatever goes wrong won’t be anyone’s actual fault.

Plausible excusability—they’re just dumb kids!—works for domestic policy too.

Whenever the government is in the mood to shovel hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of giant banks while ignoring the plight of the un- and underemployed, keep the gray old men of the Fed out of it. Roll a few kegs over to the nearest frat and let the freshman and sophomore econ majors have at it. So the global economy tanks. Who cares? Just a buncha stupid kids doing stupid kid stuff.

What’s that?

Don’t blame me if this column is stupid. I took the week off.

Stupid kids.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is



  • alex_the_tired
    January 19, 2012 10:28 AM

    Just wait. It’ll get better. Soon, we’ll know the names of these “kids.” (Funny, back in the day, we’d have called them a “gang” and demanded that the book be thrown at them.) But anyone can see the shape of things to come. As the Internet gets more ubiquitous, as information sources become more easily streamed into the Collective, we’re going to see the unavoidable reality unfold.

    Anyone remember the youtube video of the teenager who freaked out when his World of Warcraft account got deleted by his mother? His little brother went in and hid a phone camera and captured the teen’s reaction, then posted it online. The teen’s full name is associated with the video. Just google it. I cannot imagine how hard his life is going to be when he starts looking for jobs. Even if he gets hired, one of his co-workers will google his name, and so much for that job.

    So let’s all change our names. That’ll work. Until google introduces the face-recognition software that will render that pointless. The plastic surgeons will do a booming business. I know, I know, “if you don’t want to have your life ruined forever for one mistake, don’t ever make a mistake.”

    Give it a few more years. As corporations become more paranoid, more and more of us will find we cannot obtain employment, regardless of work history, because, well, there’s that Facebook photo of you drinking a beer, or that Reddit comment about how you really don’t like rainy Mondays. We can’t employ alcoholics or undiagnosed manic-depressives due to liability concerns. Well, okay, I guess we CAN make you an offer of employment as a long-term temp. No benefits. And it’s at-will, so we can let you go at a moment’s notice. And please sign here, this is an agreement by which you waive any right to a jury trial. And initial this, it’s a non-disparagement contract that indicates that you agree that you will be liable if you are ever found to have made a disparaging comment about CorpCo. Welcome to the CorpCo. family.”

  • alex-the_tired:

    You really have a serious hate-on for the internet, don’t you? What’d the net ever do to you?

  • Whimsical:

    I don’t know about Alex, but I do know that a foolish US school teacher earned enough to take her summer vacation in France. She posted a picture on Facebook of her visit to a vineyard. As soon as the school saw it, she was fired ‘for cause’. She is not eligible for unemployment. Is that right?

    (I’m not saying it’s the Internet’s fault, but …)

  • Michael, methinks that would be the school that was at fault (and more specifically, the school’s administration) rather than some “evil internet corporation” like Facebook, right? And if anything, to return to Alex’s point, I see governments, especially your US one, becoming ever more intrusive and paranoid.

  • This is the sort of thing that happens in wars. All wars, any wars, by all sides. Before the Information Age, it was easy to pretend that such things didn’t happen; or, at least, your brave soldiers didn’t do such things, only those evil fighters on the other side would commit such atrocities. Now, an ugly truth is becoming apparent; this is what happens in wars, especially prolonged conflicts.

    Don’t like it? Don’t go to war. It’s really that simple. And that difficult. There’s no magic formula, no particular law or training, that will prevent this. Not going to war in the first place is the only way to ensure such things don’t happen.