WSJ Op-Ed Dismisses Recent Afghan War Photos: "Sometimes, Men Do Dumb Things"


In an April 22 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Ann Marlowe of the conservative Hudson Institute dismissed recently published photos of U.S. military personnel posing with Afghan corpses, writing: "[S]ometimes, men do dumb things. This is one of them, and not much more." Marlowe further compared the actions of the military personnel in the photos to "the way football teams psych themselves up for games."

From Marlowe's op-ed, titled, "Much Ado About Afghan War Photos":

Part of the issue here is also the accelerating feminization of American culture, which has caused the increasing demonization of relatively normal male behavior. Men at war demonize their enemy and enact their triumph over him symbolically. That is part of the psychology that makes them able to kill.

No, it isn't pretty, but it's not that different from the way football teams psych themselves up for games or the way that (with less physicality) a big company's sales force revs up for a new product introduction. Male aggressivity serves a purpose in a healthy society -- as many of us realized for the first time when the U.S. had to fight back after 9/11.

And sometimes, men do dumb things. This is one of them, and not much more.

The photos, first published last week by the Los Angeles Times, have been widely condemned by the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the senior allied commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. Army spokesman Col. Thomas W. Collins was quoted as saying: "[T]hese photos are probably a manifestation of the soldiers' relief that this insurgent no longer posed a threat to them or their fellow soldiers. That cannot excuse what they did. We are the United States Army, and the world rightly has very high expectations that our soldiers will do what's right. Clearly, that didn't happen in this case." Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called the photos "inhumane and provocative."

Last week, Fox News military analysts Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney and Lt. Col. Ralph Peters similarly downplayed the photos. Peters claimed that the photos "did not even rise to the level of a fraternity prank" and that they were just images of "young people blowing off testosterone." McInerney said that the soldiers "weren't deliberately desecrating" the bodies in the course of doing their jobs, "although they probably should." He continued: "We shouldn't worry about the remains of suicide bombers, but we do."

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