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.