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Whizzing soldiers deserve Medals of Honor

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A leopard can’t change its spots any more than we can change our primal instinct for revenge — but it’s not for our lack of trying.

The video of four U.S. soldiers urinating on three dead Afghan militants has sparked outrage because it dumps on our sensibilities of what is acceptable behavior in the modern world. That’s a problem when one society prefers a politically correct eye-for-an-eye while another favors a plain old eye-for-an-eye — preferably freshly plucked out a publicly executed head to cheers from the masses.

It has been 10 years since the U.S. launched a war in Afghanistan to destabilize the Taliban and combat terrorism, and the cost has been immense to Americans: 1,878 troops are dead and more than $500 billion spent.

Meanwhile, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has vowed, “If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan,” and now the Obama administration wants to release five top Taliban jihadists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for a peace deal with the re-energized terror group — a regressive move destined to blow up in our faces.

Last March, Congress even committed $1.283 trillion more to the War on Terror — $444 billion of it for Afghanistan — although our forces are being killed by the same Afghan soldiers they have trained to fight militants.

In a perfect world, there would be no war and people would live in harmony; an ideal that has found more of a foothold in the west than in the east because somewhere along the evolutionary path we learned that freedom was the ultimate equalizer, while our sworn enemies thought it better to pursue oppression — to the bitter end.

Afghanistan wouldn’t merit a second thought it if wasn’t one of the most geopolitically dangerous regions in the world, surrounded by nuclear China, Russia, India, and Pakistan, which have historically struggled with their own humanity, systematically squeezing the souls — and lives — out of their own people.

Thanks to American intervention in Afghanistan, the next generation is learning how not to be the automaton of dictators.

Two weeks ago, the Pakistani tweenie Abdul Samat was recruited off the streets by the Taliban, blindfolded and rigged with explosives, and driven to the Afghan city of Kandahar to detonate a bomb that he was told would kill American “infidels,” but spare his own life. Seconds before the attack, the boy had an epiphany and backed out.

“When I opened my eyes, I saw it was a very black thing they wanted me to do,” he later stated, with wisdom his elders could learn from.

Little has changed in Afghanistan, certainly since 1963 when James Michener wrote his roman à clef, “Caravans,” setting it in 1945 Kabul. He writes, “I noticed at the doorway to the mosque, three mullahs … with fierce eyes who appeared to be guarding the holy place and condemning me, a non-Muslim for passing so near. When I looked at them politely, they stared back with undisguised hatred and I thought, these are the men who rule Afghanistan.”

In the War on Terror there is no room for self-deprecation, and the point should resonate with critics bent on vilifying the U.S. over its barbaric enemies — just because they can.

Shavana Abruzzo's column appears every Friday on E-mail her at

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Reader Feedback

Daniel from Flatbush says:
Actually, the neverending War on Terror is disgusting, as is this trash that calls itself an editorial.
Jan. 27, 2012, 8:50 am
A loyal reader from Brooklyn says:
Daniel -- Please do not call this piece of jourtnalistic excellence "trash". If you disagree with Ms. Abruzzo, say so and tell us why. Name calling and insults merely make you appear unintelligent.
Jan. 27, 2012, 10:14 am
J.Applepie from OMB says:
Daniel, no need to be so nasty or so hasty. First of all, look up the word 'editorial,' and you will realize that what Ms. Abruzzo writes about weekly ARE editorials.

Editorial, according to Random House Dictionary, is an article or statement in a newspaper or other medium presenting the opinion of the publisher, editor, or owner.

Yes, the 'neverending War on Terror is disgusting', and I am thankful that Ms. Abruzzo keeps readers abreast of what's going on worldwide in her own beautifully descriptive words that conjure up pictures. Ahh, Ms. Abruzzo has a way with words like nobody I know. You should apologize, Daniel.
Jan. 27, 2012, 9:24 pm
AJ says:
The top 1% of households own 35% of all privately held wealth in the U.S. If freedom is the ultimate equalizer, then Americans must not have any.
Jan. 28, 2012, 8:30 pm
Tatiana Palmer-Ellison from Flatbush says:
This article is so amazing.
Jan. 31, 2012, 2:57 pm
NSF from Sheepshead Bay says:
A Few, Proud Jerks Degrade Honored Marine Tradition
(February 14, 2012)

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean:
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Remember when elementary school teachers would punish bad little boys (and maybe girls), who committed a minor offense, by making them write a suitable phrase about a hundred times on a blackboard, hoping, with any luck, it would be a lesson to the troublemakers?
Some recent adult culprits should be forced to write the words from the last line of the Marine Corps hymn’s opening stanza (above). That would be the minimum punishment for the ten Marines in Afghanistan, who, in 2010, posed for a photograph in front of an American flag draped above a banner emblazoned with a symbol of the Nazi SS. That World War II unit was declared a “criminal organization” at the post-war Nuremberg trials. Even though the soldiers properly positioned Old Glory on top, they disgraced the nation, the Corps and themselves by placing the notorious icon near the Stars and Stripes.
A month ago, the world saw a photograph of Marines in Afghanistan urinating on the corpses of Taliban soldiers. Last week, an appalling picture showed a unit of Marine snipers standing near a despicable symbol that represents a unit of Hitler’s feared black-shirted Nazis, who were nothing more than terrorists similar to the factions based in the Middle East.
The Marine Corps should not only order that group to publicly apologize, but also be educated about SS members, who were distinct from regular German soldiers and did what is considered the worst atrocity ever carried out against U.S. soldiers did during World War II.
During a standoff during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, which was a turning point for the war in Europe, the Germans overran an Army post in Belgium and a Nazi SS Panzer Division captured hundreds of American soldiers. The captives should have been treated, in accordance with Geneva Convention rules, as prisoners of war, but the SS unit slaughtered them. A month later, the machine-gunned bodies of more than 350 soldiers were recovered.
Maybe, just maybe, those Marines were too dumb to complete a basic education or too sheltered and never saw a movie, television show or photo with the SS insignia. But those don’t suffice compared to the explanation that the double S insignia stood for their “scout sniper” unit.
A few defenders described the two incidents as “much-ado-about-nothing,” “innocent mistakes” or “youthful exuberance,” compounded by media overkill.
Are they serious or just lacking the same common sense and basic dignity as the jarheads they support?
Even so, these Marines are most likely extreme examples of a few ignorant bad apples serving our country, who deserve to be reprimanded, punished and educated about basic human dignity.
Nonetheless, several diverse groups and a number of former Marines denounced the outrage. Last Friday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Marine Corps to reinvestigate and take appropriate action against those who posed with the Nazi logo.
As a former teenager and Army veteran, who, on more than one occasion, got caught up in ill-advised group activities, the latest incident is understandable, albeit deplorable. When group mentality prevails, habitually decent individuals, not wanting to be spurned or harassed by the others, reluctantly take part. In an atmosphere, like the Marines, where machismo flourishes, it’s easy to see how these incidents came about. Still, you’d think at least one man had the guts to report the episode to a senior.
A few bad apples don’t — and shouldn’t — spoil the bunch. In spite of another disgusting incident, it is wrong to discredit the admirable history of the U.S. Marines because of a few jerks.
In spite of this, the Marine Corps should add a class on human dignity when it drills recruits on Parris Island for basic training or its dignified reputation will continue to spoil and its renowned recruitment slogan: The Few. The Proud. The Marines, will lose its true meaning.
Feb. 19, 2012, 9:04 pm

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