The image of four U.S. marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan fighters is a fitting symbol of American intervention in Central Asia and the Middle East. That picture will live forever in the memories of people in the region, along with the pictures from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
Most Americans aren’t much interested in making fine distinctions in foreign affairs. As Republican presidential contender Ron Paul points out, the Taliban (U.S. allies against the Soviets) never wished the American people harm. What they oppose is a foreign presence in their country, Russian or American, and they have no desire to attack anyone who stays home and minds his own business.
Other than Paul, the Republican candidates see the desecration of dead foreigners as an issue with which to score points on President Obama. The candidates and their supporters sympathize with the marines. After all, they say, the Taliban kill Americans. They are the enemy. They all should be killed.
This may be fodder for demagogues, but it’s plain nonsense. The Taliban are the home team. The American forces are the visitors — invaders and occupiers, to be precise. As Ron Paul likes to ask, how would Americans feel if there were an occupying army in the United States propping up a corrupt government? Would they turn militant? Would they mount an insurgency? I think we can predict they would.