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Simon Tam

Founder and Bassist, The Slants LLC

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Should There be Rules on How the Dead are Treated During War?

A recent video of American soliders urinating on the dead recently erupted online and sparked international fury. People were disgusted and saddened by the actions of the soliders treating the corpses with such disregard. However, has the anger been misplaced?

Why has there been more fury over urine than the actual act of killing itself? In a time of war, should there be specific rules on how the dead are treated? Or does the old adage remain that "all is fair in love and war?"

Somesocieties try and be above reproach, claiming civlity. However, the message is to kill the enemy. Is there a contradiction here?


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    Jan 13 2012: "Why has there been more fury over urine than the actual act of killing itself?"

    War, few people disagree, is always the last resort, after all diplomatic options have failed. I would argue that, those killed in war are representatives of leaders who have found no way forward, and who have accepted their life is to be given for their country/leaders/cause. "Fury" over the actual act of killing them, then, would be pointless. Would our enemies think twice about killing one of our own?
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      Jan 13 2012: These actions were done admist peace talks (which thankfully, were not disturbed). Not everyone agrees that war is the last resort (look at the number of people who disagree with the U.S going to war with Iraq, with North Korea's actions, with Serbia invading Bosnia/Kosovo/etc.) since some people use war for their own advances (such as Germany or Japan during WWII, Iraq invading Kuwaitt). Fury over ruthless killing can and should always be anticipated.

      Countries do set up "rules of war" (such as no military in civilian clothing, treatment of POW's, etc), yet there's no distinct regulations over treatment of the dead. I'm just wondering if any would be appropriate, effective, or even worthwhile?

      However, in regards to your last statement, "Would our enemies think twice about killing one of our own?," I don't think that our actions should be predicated on the intentions or possible actions of another.
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        Jan 13 2012: I agree that there should be distinct regulations pertaining to the treatment of the dead. My point is that, in war, people will die. We cannot infer from the video of the urination under what circumstances the dead were killed. Were marines lives at stake? If killing these people ment saving an innocent's life, does that make their death justified? I think it does. The fury over this video should not be pointed at the act of killing, because it may have saved another, but at the act of desecrating the bodies, which is wrong in any circumstance.

        With regards to my last statement, you're right, our actions shouldn't be predicated on the possible action of our enemies. I feel I may have misspoken.

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