Geneva wrongs

For those on the Left atwitter about the fact that George Bush doesn't feel obligated to extend to Islamofascist terrorists (a) any rights under our Constitution; (b) any rights according to our own military men/women under a court martial; or (c) even the full panoply of rights accorded signatories to the Geneva convention, Andrew McCarthy has drawn up a useful score card:

Geneva’s Golden Rule is earned reciprocity. Article 2 of the Convention makes it very clear: a non-party may earn the privileges and immunities of the treaty if it “accepts and applies the provisions thereof.”

So exactly how are Islamic terrorists faring on Geneva’s “Do unto others” scorecard?

Well, the treaty’s provisions call for protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure. Al Qaeda targets civilians for mass murder and intentionally destroys civilian infrastructure.

The provisions call for membership in a regular military force which carries its arms openly. Al Qaeda’s idea of a weapon in open view is a hijacked jumbo jet in the seconds before it crashes into a building. Otherwise, it favors roadside bombs or high explosives concealed in vans burrowed in underground garages beneath bustling civilian skyscrapers.

The provisions call for wearing uniforms in order to distinguish members as authentic soldiers. Al Qaeda’s jihadists dress and conduct themselves ostensibly as civilians — the better to hide from real armies and lull actual civilians to their deaths.

The provisions call for treating captured enemy soldiers with the dignity and respect accorded to honorable prisoners of war: accounting for them, keeping them safe, allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross access to ensure their proper treatment.

Al Qaeda tortures and slaughters them.

When it comes to the prisoners they capture, al Qaeda doesn’t much care about the Geneva Conventions, the approbation of the ICRC, or Kofi Annan’s latest grandiloquence on the post-sovereign alchemy of international law.

All it cares about is “the verdict of the Islamic court.” It was that verdict, and no other, that the Mujahedeen Shura Council — Iraq’s thugs-in-chief — announced had been “carried out” against our fallen heroes by their new Zarqawi, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. Needless to say, the deed was done “with God Almighty’s blessing.”

Which is to say, al Qaeda tortured and slaughtered them.

I have a few thoughts about the US's obligations towards the Jihadists. First, it is ludicrous for those on the Left to say that, if we abandon any aspects of the Geneva convention, we're inviting a "cycle of violence." The cycle is already here, and the Jihadists are riding it. In other words, any change we make in our conduct will not change their conduct — because they're already ahead of us on that curve.

Having said that, though, I certainly don't advise that we abase ourselves by engaging in their standards. If we stoop to routine torture, beheading and other acts of savagery, the enemy has won, because we have lost who we are. This is the idea that has kept Israel self-restrained for 60 years — she doesn't want to become like her enemies, because then it's all over but the shouting. Israel will have ceased to be a country that walks with God and will simply become another in the roster of primitive Mid-Eastern cultures.

Of course, self-restraint doesn't mean suicidal idiocy. If we don't impose our will against Al Qaeda, they will not just enjoy their local victory and back off. Instead, their blood lust will get worse and worse. Al Qaeda is a killing monster that needs more and more victims to satisfy its cravings. Passivity on our part means, first, that no American service person will be safe and, second, that no one in the world will be safe — a fact already amply demonstrated when we look at Muslim atrocities, large and small, in such places as the Sudan, Thailand, Bali, London, New York, Spain, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, etc.

I think we're doing the right thing in attacking the problem from the top down — it's excellent that we're taking out one leader after another. We need to be inexorable. No matter what they throw at us, we need to keep mowing them down according to strict rules of warfare. Military targets, killed militarily. And in that context, we shouldn't show any mercy.

And wouldn't it be nice if we could get some pro-American, conservative writers on the staff at AP, Al-Reuters, the NY Times, AFP, etc? That would make the biggest difference of all. The Fifth Column is always the hardest to fight.

UPDATE: Scott, at Scott's Conservative News & Commentary, has also been looking at the Geneva Convention and the Constitution as they relate to terrorists. His post is terrific, especially since he has a really strong understanding of the relationship between military law and other laws. This paragraph, especially, struck me:

Even more disturbing than the [ACLU's] request [to give terrorists access to American courts] is the basis on which these Islamic terrorists have supposedly "earned" these rights. According to some, these terrorists, guilty of murdering countless Americans, both military and civilian, are somehow entitled to all the legal rights and entitlements of an American citizen strictly by virtue of having murdered some Americans. This line of reasoning is not just disturbing, it’s completely absurd.

UPDATE:  I fixed the erroneous link to Scott's blog. 

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  1. JJ says

    I don’t know. This is a world that has been ruled by force since the first hand was closed into the first fist.

    We may regard that as unfortunate. We may regard it as a sad commentary on humanity. We may regard that as whatever we wish to regard it as, but what it must be regarded as incontrovertibly, is true.

    Not “lowering ourselves to their level” is a lovely idea, a sweet idea – and an idea with not much historical connection to reality. It is an idea that has never learned to swim with an ocean to cross.

    Israel, as pointed out, has steadfastly refused to “lower themselves” – and what’s that gotten them? Instead of being international pariahs for the last fifty years the Palestinians have been given a seat at the UN with a voice equal to anyone else’s; a fifty year war of attrition has been waged largely against Israeli civilians; and Israel has been regarded, especially in Europe, as being largely unspeakable.

    Whereas, if they’d just flattened out the Palestinians forty years ago, they’d have weathered the storm from that by now (would their reputation in the international community be any worse than it is?)and they’d be living in a lot more peace than they have been. All they’ve acomplished is to legitimize their enemy.

    The point is, the big dogs historically get beaten because they decide to try reason instead of acting like the big dogs every now and then. Strength is generally corroded and defeated from within, not beaten from without. Vide: Persia, Rome, the Visigoths, Britain – every empire, or big dog, you can name.

    Every now and then, if you are the big dog, you NEED to abase yourself, lower yourself to their level, go a little nuts, indulge in some maximum brutality, kick some ass; however you wish to phrase it – just to remind the little dogs that you can.

    If there are fourteen little dogs trying to pull down the big dog, eventually they will get it done just by wearing the big dog out. History demonstrates – and it is regrettable, etc. etc. (see above) – the big dog is going to have stop wrestling with them all, and just go kill a few of them outright, in the interests of survival.

    You don’t do this as a way of life. But it is possible to die of a thousand small cuts. Every now and then you have to forget the politics, lose interest in what anyone else thinks, and just go do it.

  2. says

    Israel shows what happens if you prefer not to use fire to fight fire, instead opting for this rather useless moral superiority position that is the equivalency of putting women on a pedestal and putting them in a gilded cage. Safe, protected, peaceful, but not very useful. Their sacrifices in treasure and blood for the 60 something years is the price you’d have to be willing to pay, and it still isn’t over for Israel. Iraqis won’t be as restrained as that, which is why people understand the Iraqis will win the insurgency in the end.

    While we shouldn’t show any mercy, we do show mercy, since they have released terroists from GitMo that then proceeded to kill again. They have released people from Abu ghraib and other Iraqi prisoners, and they have killed and wounded again, as per Michael Yon’s testimony that he saw LT Colonel Kurilla shot in front of him by an “insurgent” that they captured in a raid awhile ago and was then released.

    It’s not an option to fight a clean war with standards and an unclean war with no standards.

    If you want the terroists to have standards, then you need to stop subsidizing their lack of English, to analogize it to immigration. The danger is that democracies always go for the weaker option, thus creating unnecessary casualties and lengthening war. This happened when McClellan refused to take Richmond in the first year of the Civil War, thus prolonging the war. This happened at the Treaty of Versailles, when it came time to enforce it.

    As was true before 9/11 and is true today, people refuse absolutely to resort to desperate measures simply because they believe that if they just play it fair and by the book, terrorism can be dealt in an appropriate time. Well, that’s fine I suppose, if they refuse desperate measures, then they’ll just have to experience a desperate situation. Desperation is relative.

    Neo-Neocon wrote about the desire to keep one’s hands clean and not do the dirty work of spying, assassination, sabotage, deception, propaganda campaigns, and etc. To describe Truman’s position. Either he could keep his hands clean and implicitly execute the entire nation of Japan through his inaction, or he could get his hands bloody and save the great majority of Japan and the future of Japanese children. It is a philosophical decision and a command, it is only a moral decision tertiary. Morality is the price you pay, it is not the determination by which you decide whether an action is valid or invalid, appropriate or inappropriate. Rather, circumstances and the amount of desperation decides what is appropriate or inappropriate, relative.

    People have tried introducing ethics into war, they called it the Geneva Conventions. We all know what happened with that.

  3. says

    The moral compass can never be relinquished as Bookworm points out. I would put forth that this same moral compass requires us to face these inhuman enemies with every ounce of might we can, that doesn’t mean behead people, but it means we must stop apologizing for countering them.

    It is a literal perversion on the left which has gone on, cultural relativism and nihilism to such a level that barbaric murderers are equated with those that would fight them, my brain cannot even process it. I feel no shame, and no guilt except for the shame for those who cannot see clearly that which is staring them in the face.

    It’s not as if those that support radical Islam or Jihad even hide their intentions or brutality in their quest to murder all those they consider unbelievers, they openly rejoice in it. It must take a real dreamer to disregard this, either that or some form of envy or hatred which is off the scale. Something has gone terribly wrong in our western societies when our own make up the 5th column as the host states, and it is so massive.

  4. says

    Beheadings are too messy. The firing squad, hanging, the electric chair, and lethal injection using one of those mobile injection vans that China has produced, are fitting alternatives.

    It is rather inappropriate for someone to support Israel’s targeted assassinations of Hamas, with Hamas’s deliberate assassination of civilians and children. So if Israel hasn’t stooped to Hamas’ level by these criteria, why would the US be classified as stooping to the terroist’s level by executing captured terroists?

    Doesn’t seem much of a difference to me, dead is dead.

    As I recall, a military JAG lawyer said on CSPAN that military tribunals have been outlawed and restricted by the judges and the lawyers and perhaps even Bush. You literally have zero military tribunal prosecution of terroists, it has not been give na chance to work and it has no legitimacy because there are ZERO precedents. Without that standard of legality, it is quite obvious people have plans to catch and release these terroists, or just keep them around until their buddies bail them out through threats or if another administration goes into office in 2 years.

    Whether you summarily execute terroists captured on the battlefield legally through military tribunals or extra-legally through summary executions, will be decided in the end by circumstance and those in power. I don’t think the legal system was ever stopped by what was “right” or “wrong”.

  5. says

    James Taranto weighed in on “Cycle of Violence” in Best of the Web today linked here:

    This rhetoric about “cycles” appears to reflect a theory of moral equivalence, but in fact it is something else. After all, if the two sides were morally equivalent, one could apply this reasoning in reverse–excusing, for example, the alleged massacre at Haditha on the ground that it was “provoked” by a bombing that killed a U.S. serviceman–and hey, violence begets violence.

    But America’s critics never make this argument, and its defenders seldom do. That is because it is understood that America knows better. If it is true that U.S. Marines murdered civilians in cold blood at Haditha, the other side’s brutality does not excuse it. Only the enemy’s evil acts are thought to be explained away by ours.

    Implicit in the “cycle” theory, then, is the premise that the enemy is innocent–not in the sense of having done nothing wrong, but in the sense of not knowing any better. The enemy lacks the knowledge of good and evil–or, to put it in theological terms, he is free of original sin.

    America ought to hold itself to a high moral standard, of course, but blaming the other side’s depraved acts on our own (real and imagined) moral imperfections is a dangerous form of vanity.

  6. Jeff says

    Captured al-Quada pirates/terrorists/killers deserve no protection under the Geneva Convention, “International Law” or under US Law. Those not killed on the battlefield should be taken prisoner, sorted out and summarily executed by firing squad. Their bodies left to rot where they died. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either ignorant, un-American or both.


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