The reaction from the US media establishment largely echoed official sentiments. As the Los Angeles Times editorialized, the released video was "disheartening" and a "step backwards" for the US in Afghanistan. 
Yet, with two of the marines depicted in the video now reportedly identified, startled Americans have been assured that justice will be done. The bad apples will be removed, and discipline and honor shall be restored to the armed forces. The whole incident, then, will soon begin to fade from American popular consciousness (if it has not already), as it comes to be flushed down the memory hole. Back to war, it is.
The truth, however, is that the video is hardly illustrative of a few bad apples. Rather, the incident is illustrative of a system of US imperial militarism that is rotten to its very core. For as despicable as the acts in the video most certainly are, they are by no means aberrations.
As was brought to light just last year, US soldiers in Afghanistan have actually hunted Afghan civilians as sport. As Rolling Stone reported in grizzly detail, the US "kill team" not only murdered civilians, but also kept their severed fingers, teeth, and skull fragments as trophies. 
On a much more systemic level, the US to this day routinely fires Hellfire missiles from its growing fleet of Predator drones, reigning terror and sowing death from above upon an unknown number of Afghan and Pakistani civilians.
And let us not forget the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq. Although, there are an unknown number of similar atrocities that have been committed in the web of US black op sites and secret prisons encircling the globe.
Such barbarism by American armed forces, it should be noted, has not been limited to Afghans. In the past year alone, two Chinese-American US soldiers were driven to take their own lives while on service in Afghanistan, after having endured race-based hazing from their fellow Army soldiers. 
And yet focusing on such incidents - as many and as heinous as they are - threatens to obscure the larger and more fundamental crimes occurring in the last decade of the US "war on terror". As former US Marine Ross Caputi pointed out, the crimes depicted in the latest video clip pale in comparison to far more consequential US atrocities. As Caputi, who took part in the siege of Fallujah Iraq in 2004, wrote in The Guardian:
I witnessed marines stealing from the pockets of dead resistance fighters and looting houses. I've heard firsthand accounts of marines mutilating dead bodies, of a marine who murdered a civilian, and of a marine who slit a puppy's throat ... My behavior and the behavior of others in my unit was despicable, as was the behavior of these marines urinating on corpses. We can certainly extrapolate out even further from the siege of Fallujah, to the wars as a whole in both Afghanistan and Iraq. For both of which, we must remember, were launched by cynically turning the criminal acts of 11 September 2011 into an act of war. This declaration of war was then seamlessly parlayed into feeding the insatiable US military-industrial complex, while realizing long held geopolitical strategic aims.
Urinating on corpses is thus nothing but a byproduct of this calculated decision to turn to war. After all, it is in war that one must come to dehumanize one’s enemies. As Sebastian Junger noted in the Washington Post:
As a society, we may be disgusted by seeing US Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters (it is actually unknown whether those in the video were indeed Taliban fighters or civilians), but we remain oddly unfazed by the fact that, presumably, those same Marines just put high-caliber rounds through the fighters’ chests. American troops are not blind to this irony. They are very clear about the fact that society trains them to kill, orders them to kill and then balks at anything that suggests they have dehumanized the enemy they have killed. Indeed, in conflict - despite the claims of civility and professionalism coming from the US military brass - sadism not only rears its ugly head, but actually thrives. As Chris Hedges writes in his book, War is the Force Which Gives Us Meaning: In war “those who abandoned their humanity, betrayed their neighbors and friends, turned their back on their family, stole, cheated, killed, and stomped on the weak and infirm were often those who made it out alive."
Let us not, then, be fooled by the farcical show of outrage by US officials over the desecration of dead Afghans. For their faux moral disgust stems only from the bad PR such a display will likely garner. Their real unease, leave no doubt, is whether such scenes will hinder the war effort, that is, hinder their continued plunder and slaughter of the Afghan people. And it is this that ought to be deemed utterly deplorable.
1. See here.
2. See here.
3. See here and here.
4. See here.
5. See here.