Inexplicably, YouTube generation military personnel just can’t seem to get it right. Why’s it so hard to understand that what makes it onto film has a way of staying there? As the Abu Ghraib defendants learned the hard way, it also has a way of coming back to haunt you.

What now? Footage of a puppy being launched off a cliff into the desert by Marines in Iraq has made the rounds on YouTube. It was posted on March third, but it’s only now come across my own sights.

Beware: it’s disturbing. Though it’s rumored that the pup may have been dead already and that the salacious audio of a puppy squealing was dubbed in afterwards, the poor creature looks very much alive to this vet’s practiced eyes as it’s flung by Marine, David Motari.

Apparently caught in the throes of the blackest kind of humor, the assailant is chided by his compatriot with a dubiously withering, “That’s mean.”

What’s worse is that this video’s popularity has occasioned a cascade of other releases capturing more incidents of US military cruelty in Iraq and Afghanistan:

  • dogs being shot for target practice,
  • a grenade being hurled into a flock of sheep,
  • soldiers tormenting an injured dog with a hail of rocks.

This is only a sampling of what’s apparently out there. Cruel human-on-human interaction is more likely the bulk of it.

Relatives have come out in defense of the personnel depicted in these incidents, describing their actions as the result of insufferable stress and boredom. Some supporters of the military have even deemed discussions like mine unpatriotic for their implication that individual soldier wrongdoing should reflect on the whole of the military campaign.

So it’s true: I’ll fess up. I’m not a supporter of the war. Neither, however, am I offering a blanket condemnation of the military and its personnel. In fact I very rarely use Dolittler as a forum for my own political views, doing so only when it directly impacts animal health and welfare concerns (e.g., Mitt Romney’s car trip with his dog crated on the roof of his vehicle).

Moreover, I have no doubt that soldiers in war zones are under unimaginable stress. The boredom itself is what would probably find me doing things I’d consider uncharacteristic for myself under normal circumstances.

My compassion for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the severe strain of months or years of undeniable hardship notwithstanding, nothing in this world can absolve any of us for our illegal, abusive and/or unethical behavior. Add in the indisputable innocence of the victims in these cases and the misdirected aggression of the transgressors gets magnified exponentially.

Ultimately, no one here’s being unpatriotic in condemning such flagrantly bad behavior. Those soldiers who act in inhumanly disgusting ways, especially when obviously aware of being caught in a camera’s sights, are knowingly condemning the rest of their brethren—and all of us—to be judged in the harsh light of international scrutiny.

Shame on them.

That said, now it’s our turn to ensure they’re appropriately punished and receive the psychiatric help they so desperately need.