Corps Values

Tariq Ali

It’s now official. Urinating on dead insurgents, the US Marine Corps informs the world, is 'not consistent with its core values'. I think we need a list of non-core values as soon as possible. Pissing on the dead is considered loathsome in most cultures, but clearly can be a morale-booster for demoralised troops in an occupied country where the war is going badly for western civilisation. What better way to assert civilisational values against the barbarians and win local hearts and minds? And why stop here? The next stage surely is to excrete on them and use their beards as toilet paper. That would enhance the value of the videos and might even win the innovators the Santorum Prize for Moral Superiority.
Urinating on the dead is bad enough, but what of those who do it on the living? One of the earlier complaints in this regard came from Gitmo (happy 10th birthday dear) prisoners who alleged that their guards pissed on them from above and that some of the drops fell not just on them, but the Korans they were reading. At the time nobody thought fit to say that such acts ‘were not consistent with core values'. Limited progress has been made. Why the employees of imperial powers feel obliged to act in such a way requires psychiatric investigation. During the British occupation of India it was common practice for British police officers to order their men (who included Muslims, Sikhs and ‘low-caste’ Hindus) to unbutton themselves and let fly at non-violent Gandhian protesters occupying railway tracks to enforce a strike and non-co-operation call by the Congress Party. Nobody talked about core values at that time. Most Indians knew what they were.


  • 12 January 2012 at 10:21pm
    Bob Beck says:
    As for demoralised troops in an occupied country where a war is going badly, Michael Herr of "Dispatches" fame mentions a Marine who was photographed pissing into the open mouth of a dead Vietnamese.

  • 14 January 2012 at 4:16am
    gdog says:
    I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. One day I was changing a dressing on a wounded Marine grunt. "Want to see my ears?" he asked. "I can already see them," I replied. "No! not MY ears, my other ears," he said. From inside his nightstand he pulled out a small bag full of ears he had cut off of corpses.
    There is an infamous photo on the cover of Life magazine published during WW II. A young attractive blond woman is holding and reading a letter from her boyfriend fighting in the South Pacific.In her other hand she is holding a lit cigarette. And on the table in front of her is a whitewashed skull taken from a dead Japanese soldier that her boyfriend had sent her through the mail. She was using it as an ashtray. The cover of Life magazine. The last good war. The greatest generation.
    All wars are demoralizing, dehumanizing and horrific for the soldiers that fight them. And it makes little difference whether the war is considered the last good war for my country as was the Second World War, or the Vietnam War, which was the worst foreign policy debacle in my nation's history. At least until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    It's just the nature of the beast. So, Mr. Ali, please spare me your precious moral condemnation.

  • 14 January 2012 at 1:27pm
    Charles Turner says:
    Like the soldiers with the dead Taliban, Mr. Ali has an easy target. Unlike them, he can hit it without having to move from his comfortable armchair in Kensington.

  • 14 January 2012 at 5:01pm
    Bob Beck says:
    Producing corpses, especially of non-combatants, is worse than desecrating them. Worse still is the "policy" behind this war, and the Iraq war -- produced, indeed, by armchair warriors, many in comfortable think-tanks. These evils exist on various levels, but I have no hesitation in condemning them all, even from my chair.

  • 15 January 2012 at 5:30pm
    Keston says:
    Dear garside, would Tariq Ali's post be more acceptable to you if he made it from an uncomfortable stool? Or how about atop a monocycle in a paddling pool full of vegetable oil while juggling cactuses? Should he have selected a target more difficult to hit? Are the most unmistakable targets for condemnation better left alone, so that the accusation of hitting them too easily can be avoided?

    It is a dangerous style of mockery that would disqualify criticism of war crimes on the grotesque grounds that it can be made without leaving home. Perhaps your riposte to Tariq Ali was issued from a shark cage?

    • 15 January 2012 at 7:43pm
      Charles Turner says: @ Keston
      Blimey. The fact is I don't think anything by Tariq Ali is acceptable to me. Perhaps I should have said that. Or that I don't like Oxford educated upper bourgeois radicals who pontificate about anything and everything and manage to make a living out of it, but have nothing constructive to offer on any subject. I don't either, but I am not given a platform. And another thing. Just as the Americans adopt the 'he may be a dictator but he is our dictator' approach to world affairs, so do people like Tariq Ali. So criticism of war crimes is not disqualified, but our agreement with the criticism might be qualified, so to speak, when one is aware that the critic is not prepared to criticise similar atrocities when they are committed by people he just happens to approve of.

Read more