Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Law of War

Has anyone noticed that we are fighting a war and yet we do not have any “prisoners of war” who are subject to the Geneva Convention? We have captured terrorists who are criminals, but despite fighting wars against thousands of people in their own lands, the only people we have captured are criminals, and the only people we have killed are “terrorist criminals.”

So, is it that only criminals fight back against us when we invade their homeland? (And I use the word “homeland” advisedly.) Or is it that we have defined the act of fighting back against us to be a criminal act?

Actually, it’s the latter. Those fighting against us are not part of a “military organization” and, as such, become criminals when they attack anyone for any reason. So even if we begin the firefight, if they fire back at us they become criminals, even though it is their homeland and we are the military invaders. The organized military of that nation is, after all, on our side. That is what we call “the law of war.” In order to fight legally, you must be a member of a formal military organization.

As a brief aside, it seems the Sadr Brigade does not meet that definition. Apparently they don’t hold the proper form of close order drill or something, but despite their uniforms, organization and structure, they are criminals.

One of the guys at Quantanamo being tried by a military tibunal is charged with throwing a grenade at American soldiers during a firefight on the battlefield, killing one American and wounding another.

There is a bit of a double standard at work here. When Germany invaded France and the French military began cooperating with the Germans, the cooperating French were despised and called “Quislings,” and the non-military civilians who took up arms and fought against the Germans were regarded as heroes. Well, okay, not by the Germans of course, who regarded them as criminals and executed them without a trial when they were captured.

Oh, wait, I’m treading on thin ice here, because we're regarding those fighting against us as criminals and we are... But we’re not the Germans, who invaded France for all of the wrong reasons, and… Oh shit, that didn’t quite bail me out.

We’re not the Nazis, which does bail me out. We’re not the Nazis and we’re not anything like them. But if we are trying people in military tribunals and, even worse, holding them in prison indefinitely without trial at all, simply because they defended their homes against an invader, then we’re not Americans either.

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