Having read the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta apologized for the photos taken of soldiers with a suicide bomber’s body parts (TNT, 4-18), I was struck by the hypocrisy of it all.
Since the invention of the camera, soldiers have been photographed with the bodies of enemy combatants. Before the camera these scenes were commemorated in sculpture and in paintings that are now referred to as “classical art.”
Are the photos from Afghanistan gruesome? Absolutely. But we spend billions to turn our young men and women into warriors for the express purpose of killing, maiming and ultimately defeating our “enemies.” On almost a daily basis soldiers are faced with the horrific results of brutal conflict. They become inured to the continuous violence and in many cases develop macabre senses of humor as a coping mechanism.
Sharing that with the wider world doesn’t seem appropriate at first glance, but maybe we should all be exposed to the horror in the hope that we can learn to reject the insanity that is war.
Panetta shouldn’t be apologizing for the actions of our soldiers. He should be apologizing to the world at large for the tyrants, oligarchs and politicians who have placed them on the battlefield.