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Un-Conventional Warfare

Over at the Belmont Club, Wretchard has a fascinating examination on the atrocities being committed by Al Qaeda In Iraq. He even gives an account of one particularly heinous deed, as reported by Michael Yon, that he has his doubts about -- as do I, and I believe Yon as well -- but we all agree that it is certainly not beyond them should they choose to do it. (A fair use of "fake, but accurate," I'm tempted to say.)

He makes much the same point I have made before, but I want to repeat and make more explicit: the Geneva Conventions are NOT purely a restriction, but a privilege. They are a contract, with duties and benefits to both sides -- as long as both sides abide by them.

There are numerous rights granted by the Conventions to those captured during war -- but only to those who have accepted and abided by the Conventions in the first place. Our forces are governed by the Conventions, act accordingly for the most part, and are punished when they do not.

But those we fight do not abide by the Conventions. Indeed, oft times it seems that they study the Conventions purely as a "checklist" on things they wish to violate. The use of civilians as shields, the deliberate targeting of civilians, the use of hospitals and mosques for military operations, the disguising themselves as civilians or police or military -- these violations have all been well documented.

In a supremely rational world, those who so deliberately flout the Conventions in this way would be denied any and all protections of the Geneva Conventions when captured. They would be subject to indefinite detention, no access to counsel or the Red Cross, no guarantees of humane treatment, and even summary execution -- depending on the judgment and best interests of our forces.

Instead, we have those among us demanding that they be given exactly the same treatment our personnel are entitled to should they be captured.

Of course, our troops face no such assurances. Indeed, some times I wonder if the best thing that can happen to any of them who get caught by the enemy is if they are killed quickly. The record of torture, execution, or just plain "disappearing" is atrocious.

The Geneva Conventions, like most contracts, are not built around "we do this because we're nice people." It's based on one of the most fundamental principles -- self-interest.

For all its grandiose language and high ideals and the exemplary morality people have imbued it with, it boils down to a simple "carrot and stick" principle: we'll treat your people decently if you treat ours. We won't target your civilians if you don't target ours. We won't blow up your churches, schools, hospitals and whatnot if you leave ours alone.

There is no such underlying agreement, no shared principles, no common humanity in the current War On Terror. And, therefore, there is no legal obligation for us to apply the Geneva Conventions in this case.

But there are other reasons to consider. Should we continue to apply the Conventions simply out of our own sense of humanity? Should we extend those protections not because our enemies deserve them, but because we do not wish to be the sort of people that do those sorts of things? In short, should we not become just like those we are fighting?

As seductive as that reasoning is, appealing to our sense of pride and honor and morality, it's too simplistic. If we deny a single privilege to a detainee, we are not the equivalent of those who slaughter entire villages, every man, woman, child, and animal. If we summarily execute a terrorist instead of arresting them and granting them the equivalent of Miranda privileges, we are not interchangeable with those who behead kidnapped captives on video while crying out the greatness of Allah.

The guiding principle behind our treatment of those who we capture must be our own best interests -- both short-term and long-term.

For example, the summary execution of prisoners. What benefit is served by that?

Well, for one, their value as a bartering chip drops tremendously. The odds of innocents being kidnapped and offered in exchange go down tremendously when the person whose release is being sought has assumed room temperature. Hell, most of the time they don't even have to demand their return -- we'll tell the terrorists right where they can find their late comrade.

For another, by applying it selectively, we might apply a moderating element on the enemy. By saving the summary execution penalty for only those involved in the most heinous of atrocities, we might deter the enemy from committing them in the first place. Especially if the execution is coupled with some judicious desecration of the corpses -- anointing them with pig lard, for example.

The Geneva Conventions were never intended to be handcuffs. In Iraq and elsewhere, that is how they are being used. Our forces are being pressured to grant their full protections to the enemy, yet know that they have no such hopes for themselves. It's not fair to them, and it's downright deadly to the real civilians, who find themselves the most frequent victims of the terrorists.

But that doesn't seem to matter to those who see the Geneva Conventions as absolutely binding. As long as they can feel that their hands are "clean," they don't look too closely at who is really paying the price for their high principals.


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Comments (66)

What is the incentive for o... (Below threshold)
goddessoftheclassroom:

What is the incentive for our enemies to follow the protections Conventions if we don't enforce the consequences of not abiding by them?

We are a nation of laws. Let's follow the Conventions as they were intended, on a quid pro quo basis.

It's sad to read a thinking... (Below threshold)
JFO:

It's sad to read a thinking person advocating that we become just like the trerrorists.

I wholly disagree with your... (Below threshold)
Eric:

I wholly disagree with your premise Jay Tea. I hate being bound by the Geneva Conventions while the enemy flaunts them. However, that doesn't change the fact that following them is still the right thing to do. Your argument is akin to saying that police officers should be allowed to disregard our constitutional protections because some criminals do too.

I believe in enhanced inter... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I believe in enhanced interrogation of prisoners. I believe it is perfectly fine to make the prisoners very uncomfortable and at times hungry. I do not think we should be barbaric towards them, not because of an affection I have towards the enemy, there is none, but because of what it would do to out soldiers who witness this. Eventually that soldier will come home and a clear conscience is good for his/her adjustment back to society. ww

JFO, no one here is advocat... (Below threshold)

JFO, no one here is advocating that we slowly saw the heads off of our enemies, least of all Jay. But you go ahead and mischaracterize what he's saying, because if you didn't, we'd wonder if you were really were JFO or a sock puppet.

Goddess is exactly right. If there is no punishment for flouting the conventions as our enemy does daily then there is no incentive for them stop it.

Oyster, just so I understan... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Oyster, just so I understand you - "slowly" sawing off heads goes too far but "selectively" and "sunmmarily executing" prisoners is? I seem to remember that's what Nazis did in WWII so I just want to be sure that's what you advocate.

JFO,Just to set th... (Below threshold)
Mike:

JFO,

Just to set the historical record straight, we also used "The Chicago Way" on a limited basis against the Nazis - after we discovered the bodies of some of our boys, captured, tortured, and executed by the Germans, we also left a number of Germans strung up, where other Germans could find them. The Germans tried to terrorize us, but (in an unfortunate act of evil) we managed to send them the message that we would not be terrorized. They stopped torturing and killing GI's after that.

I don't want to see our troops stringing up al-Qaeda members as examples. That would be fighting evil with evil, and that is wrong.

I would simply like to see people lay off our troops, who abide by the Geneva conventions 99% of the time on the battlefield, and start laying in to al-Qadea et. al., who never abide by the conventions and who are the real evil-doers.

But it will be a cold day in hell before liberals admit that anyone commits greater acts of evil than the US military.

MikeI agree with w... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Mike

I agree with what you wrote and I am certainly not criticizing our troops. We're talking about a policy of our government here and I don't think "The Chicago Way" was an official policy of our government.

This brought something to m... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

This brought something to mind, the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

The gentlmen's agreement of a pistol duel at the time was to throw away your first shot, i.e., shoot up and away from your opponent, as described here:

It was a matter of honor among gentlemen to follow these rules. Because of the high incidence of septicemia and death resulting from torso wounds, a high percentage of duels employed this procedure of throwing away fire.

While Hamilton abided by this gentlemen's agreement and threw away his fire, Aaron Burr did not, and shot and killed Alexander Hamiltion.

Obviously we need to employ sense when following the Conventions. With another civilized nation who also abides by those rules, it's sensible, and should be expected and enforced to the letter. When dealing with a vicious group of terrorists who are not part of a nation and pay absolutely no heed to the same Conventions that bind us, I feel we need to re-review them for this particular conflict dealing with this particular enemy.

--

I see there's a comment preview feature here at the bottom. Very nice! Though I'll have no excuse for messing up my blockquotes from now on.

Hope eveyone had a good 4th.

Normally I'd let this sort ... (Below threshold)

Normally I'd let this sort of thing slide, Heralder, but two sentences after you praised the preview feature, you misspelled "everyone."

Sometimes irony can be pretty ironic...

J.

Eric:Your... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Eric:

Your argument is akin to saying that police officers should be allowed to disregard our constitutional protections because some criminals do too.

I believe it's more akin to saying: Police officers should be allowed to carry submachine guns if all the criminals are. Rather than the criminal being armed with Uzi and our law enforcement being armed with a .22 revolver.

If in this case law enforcement starts carrying Uzi's it does not make them equal to the criminals, which is apparently what you're arguing.

There comes a point when the obvious disadvantage you put yourself at can become fatal.

Incidentally, I agree with WildWillie's sentiment completely.

Sometimes irony can be pret... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Sometimes irony can be pretty ironic...

A little too ironic, dontcha think?

Normally I'd let t... (Below threshold)
Heralder:
Normally I'd let this sort of thing slide, Heralder, but two sentences after you praised the preview feature, you misspelled "everyone."

NOOOooooo! I just came back from Massachusetts...so apparently I'm still dropping my 'r's. :P

Sadly, No!"Wingnut... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Sadly, No!

"Wingnut logic, it has been said, is a most peculiar sort of animal. "

[ . . . ]

http://www.sadlyno.com/archives/6407.html

I do not believe we should ... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

I do not believe we should act like the animals we are fighting.

That said, I also do not believe we should treat them to ALL the priveleges afforded signatory NATIONS of the Geneva Convention.

For example, the Geneva Convention states:
"Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information."

and then goes on to state:

"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."

Puhleeeze. Let's leave "torture", once properly defined, out of the picture.

We can't subject alQueda scum to "unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment" of any kind?

Yes we CAN!! Because these scum are NOT legitimate combatants!! Period.

Neither the Geneva Convention nor our Constitution was envisioned as a "suicide pact". The Left would have us behave as though they were...and commit suicide in the process. No thanks!

Adrian,I must have... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Adrian,

I must have missed where the Geneva Conventions and our adherance to, or lack thereof, was dealt with in that editorial you linked to.

In fact it seems pretty much peripheral to the entire argument. I guess you just liked the wit and wanted to share?

"Oyster, just so I under... (Below threshold)

"Oyster, just so I understand you - "slowly" sawing off heads goes too far but "selectively" and "sunmmarily(sic) executing" prisoners is?"

I didn't say that, JFO. But I would advocate taking no prisoners under certain circumstances and just make sure they're all dead right there on the battlefield. But then, we can't underestimate the shock value of executing a couple after the fact as well. But what's happening is we're indicting and trying our soldiers when killing is considered murder and defining what torture is and using that which does not cross certain lines.

We're trying our best to heed Nietzsche's words in regards to staring into the abyss and we're not willing to sacrifice ALL our principles. But if we don't make some concessions or compromise in that regard, we're doomed to lose.

On the other hand, what you indeed said was that Jay was "advocating that we become just like the trerrorists.(sic)" Now that I've further clarified my statement, I'd like to know how you can justify such a sweeping generalization.

Glad to see someone tell it... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Glad to see someone tell it like it should be. To hell with all these "PC" crybabies. These animals that we are dealing with have no sense of being humans. A few of these socalled humans strung up with a pork chop in their mouth would sent a quick message. Oh woe is me, what will the people of the world think about us for doing that!! Better to be a live asshole than a dead "PC".

Oyster:I wouldn't ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Oyster:

I wouldn't say you clarified I'd say you opened mouth and inserted foot in your first post and when caught you're now backpedaling furiously. And then you end up advocating exactly what you said you weren't. Sheesh.

As to your question. Pretty simple as I see it and I already made my point. To advocate "selectively" and "summarily" executing prisoners is advocating terrorism. That's exactly what the terrorists do. I'm not mischaracterizing anything. Those are his words and his ideas.

Trackbacked by The Thunder ... (Below threshold)

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/09/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

A thoughtful and necessary ... (Below threshold)

A thoughtful and necessary essay. At the beginning of the Civil War, there was much talk of honor and bravery and gentlemen's agreements. The war became the bloodiest and most gruesome in American History.

If we do not start treating our enemy harshly, if we do not engage him with an increasingly measured and appropriate response, we will, in not bending, eventually break.

I do not wish to see a nuclear Holacaust across the Middle East. There are good and innocent people who would die, like the Japanese who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As you might recall, the Japanese did not sign onto the Geneva Convention either. They tortured, raped, abused and mutilated Allied prisoners. History records their punishment.

JFO=PC... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

JFO=PC

Hey JFO quit your baby whin... (Below threshold)

Hey JFO quit your baby whining and read a little history.

Summarily executing unlawful combatants is in fact what we did during World War II. It was approved in the SCOTUS case of ex parte Quirin.

Google it.

There are no "Geneva Laws o... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

There are no "Geneva Laws of War". The Geneva Conventions are exactly that, a set of conventions (i.e. a contract, an agreement, etc). We have no contract with those against whom we're fighting. They've demonstrated no interest in abiding by any such contract. As such, the contract has no place in these encounters.

I'm very well familiar Quir... (Below threshold)
JFO:

I'm very well familiar Quirin. I was a JAG officer. You omit one key fact - they are entitled to a trial first. But then why let a key fact like that get in your way.

JFO,It seems to me... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

JFO,

It seems to me you're attempting to apply a universal black and white rule to what is, in actuality, a huge gray area. This is a problem Paul Hamilton tends to run into when discussing torture.

To advocate "selectively" and "summarily" executing prisoners is advocating terrorism. That's exactly what the terrorists do.

That is to say the death penalty advocates crime?

You can distill a point to the absolute basics, but in doing so, you often end up ignoring circumstance, intention, common sense. I find all of these vital when thinking critically.

Naive political correctness... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

Naive political correctness and "hate america first" will be the death of us. I love the lefty apologists that post here when they start discussing the GC, international law, rules of engagement, etc. Your lofty opinions forged in polysci 101 or from the Kos/DU crowd play well in the coffeehouse but not for shit out in a combat zone

I wonder if the 9-11 plane jockeys considered how their deeds would be judged in the "world court". Suppose Nick Berg's captors gave a rat's ass about the GC? Of course the terrorists had a right to shoot, burn to death, and string up the contractors 'cause they were evil capitalists and sent by Dick Cheney. Of course very few of you would ever soil your selves by wearing the uniform and fewer still seek out and engage the enemy. Instead you live off the fat of the land sitting on your fat lazy ass in front of a keyboard spouting garbage and falsely demonizing those that are willing to serve and protect. Someone's told you that's being "Patriotic". Somehow I think guys like Joshua Chamberlain, Nick Rowe, Nathanael Greene, et al would disagree.

Heralder: "I believe it'... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Heralder: "I believe it's more akin to saying: Police officers should be allowed to carry submachine guns if all the criminals are. Rather than the criminal being armed with Uzi and our law enforcement being armed with a .22 revolver.

If in this case law enforcement starts carrying Uzi's it does not make them equal to the criminals, which is apparently what you're arguing."

No Heralder, that is not what I am arguing. I don't think your analogy is quite accurate. The discussion is about the legal rules of warfare.

Like them or not, the United States of America has signed the Geneva Conventions and our military forces are bound by them in their application of warfare just like a police officer is bound to following the U.S. Constitution. A police officer is not allowed to decide when he can and can't follow the U.S. Constitution. See Mike Nifong.

Look I don't like the Geneva Conventions as they are currently written and I don't like how it ties our hands. But that doesn't mean that as a government we should simply decide to break the laws because we don't like them or because the other guy is breaking the law too.

I think there is a slippery slope here. If we choose to start disavowing parts of the Geneva Conventions then where does that end?

Heralder:I appreci... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Heralder:

I appreciated your reply until you felt the need to be insulting at the end.

I am not applying a universal black and white rule. Far from it. For example., I am not against shooting a terrorist and he/she has been legally identified as one and after charges (even in as military court) are proven.

What I am against is a government sanctioned policy that gives permission to the military or anyone else to take someone who has surrendered - it was Jay talking about prisoners remember - and shooting them because the government wants to deter others. That's what Nazis did to partisans in WW II.

Now, if I have misconstrued Jay's meaning I will stand corrected. But I read his piece, using his terms of "summarily" and selectively" and "prisoners" without the need to properly identify a person as a terrorist and without some proof of terrorist acts. Thus my responses. I stick with my first post unless Jay clarifies or corrects me. Listen. I have no problem with admitting error. But I don't see it here.

JFO was a jag officer, a na... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

JFO was a jag officer, a navy seal, a first rate carpenter and on the weekends he is the Queen of England. ww

JFO's chastising others for... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

JFO's chastising others for insults????? You can't buy this stuff. Priceless

Eric:A po... (Below threshold)
Heralder Author Profile Page:

Eric:

A police officer is not allowed to decide when he can and can't follow the U.S. Constitution. See Mike Nifong.

I'm not terribly certain Eric, that I said the officer, or in this case the soldier, should be allowed to decide. I spoke of reexamining the Geneva Convention in the interests of better executing this war. By this I mean the United States, and all of the signatories.
In our analogy, that would be something decided and implemented at the State level, not on-site...not at the police officer level.

But that doesn't mean that as a government we should simply decide to break the laws because we don't like them or because the other guy is breaking the law too.

I don't think we should break them either, I think we should lobby to revise them, very specifically and very clearly. Any other way does indeed place us on the slippery slope you mentioned.

JFO,For the record... (Below threshold)
Heralder Author Profile Page:

JFO,

For the record, that last bit it wasn't intended to sound insulting. I reread it though and can see how it could be construed that way. Originally, I was supplying an example at the end but decided against it and truncated it to what it was.

The rest of your reply is very clear. I'm starting to get the feeling my argument isn't perfectly aligned with yours in subject. I'll go back and read over the replies.

HeralderThanks... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Heralder

Thanks

Heralder: "I don't think we... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Heralder: "I don't think we should break them either, I think we should lobby to revise them, very specifically and very clearly. Any other way does indeed place us on the slippery slope you mentioned. "

On that we are in perfect agreement. I don't like how the Geneva Conventions are currently written. I think they are too restrictive. I am all in favor of revising and updating them. I am opposed to taking the position that they should be disregarded as they currently are at ANY level because the other guy doesn't follow them.

A place to start is a better definition of torture. For example, hot iron to the skin? Torture. Made to listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers? Not torture. However, made to listen to Britney Spears? Torture.

Right is right and wrong is... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Right is right and wrong is wrong. The moment you start using someone else's actions as the basis for your morality instead of a defined standard from proper behavior, you're in big trouble.

The way we'll win the war against terrorists is by being a good example that others choose to follow -- by winning over the people and weeding out terrorists at the source. But if we allow ourselves to adopt their tactics, even a little bit, we've taken away all motivation for others to choose light over darkness.

Paul,Given the Ale... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Paul,

Given the Alexander Hamilton example I provided, did Hamilton win the duel by dying a "gentleman's" death?

I don't think your ideology is off here, I just think it's application to reality is. I would be overjoyed if policemen could overcome crime by setting a good example. Unfortunately, setting a good example is not a method or a plan.

This doesn't even address the fact that morality can have a shockingly different meanings depending on which culture and religion you ask.

Well JFO, I have lost faith... (Below threshold)

Well JFO, I have lost faith in the armed forces for the woefully poor education they gave you regarding ex parte Quirin.

Quirin et. al. did not get a 'trial'. They were put before a military commission.

You know, the exact type of Gitmo military commission that you leftist types whine about constantly.

If you think Quirin was okay, you must approve of the Gitmo military tribunals then.

Well done JFO, very well done.

I love it when righties spe... (Below threshold)
JFO:

I love it when righties speak for those of us disagree with them. Ken, I am in favor of military tribunals - and those are "trials." Never in this discussion have I advocated that the Geneva Conventions apply to terrorists.

If you, like so many other righties who blog here took the time to bother reading entire posts and comments in context you'll know what my position is. But, alas, that's probably too much to expect.

So, I shall pose a question to you. Do you believe "prisoners" should be "selectively" chosen and "summarily" shot to make an example?

Heralder, the old saying go... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Heralder, the old saying goes that if you don't believe in something, you'll fall for anything. There comes a point where you need to draw a line and reject relativism or you simply won't have any standards at all. There will always be some scum who richly deserves the worst you could possibly do to him, but morality isn't giving people what they deserve, it's doing what is right even for those who do not merit it.

I believe that love is greater than hate -- and that's not hippie talk, that's the message of Jesus in one simple sentence. The United States reached it's place in the world because we were a GREAT nation -- we did the right thing even when it wasn't the easiest thing. We could never have achieved what we did with force of arms rather than strength of character.

And that's why it bothers me so much that we are allowing the hatred of the terrorists to drag us down to their level like this. We were the victims of a terrible sneak attack at Pearl Harbor but we never even thought that meant that we could manifest our outrage at that event by torturing the Japanese.

If you really want to talk about moral decay on a national level, don't look at something like gay marriage, look at the abuses of others that the people are willing to tolerate at the hand of their own government.

I'm having a little trouble... (Below threshold)

I'm having a little trouble figuring out how, according to JFO, I have put my foot in my mouth.

Unless it's simply his interpretation when I said, "But what's happening is we're indicting and trying our soldiers when killing is considered murder and defining what torture is and using that which does not cross certain lines," that I was complaining or advocating that things should be done differently. I wasn't.

Paul, I think you're comple... (Below threshold)

Paul, I think you're completely revising History. After Pearl Harbor we *absolutely* thought that meant we could manifest our outrage at that event by torturing the Japanese. In fact, we even confined our own citizens without cause or trial or process of law and stole their property, and only much *much* later did we decide that was a bad thing to have done.

I don't know how you figure that we're less squeamish now than we were then. We tolerate far less *now* than we ever have. This belief system you've got that things are worse now than before, that we used to be more moral before, is a belief system. It's a matter of faith, because there is no evidence for it.

Oyster:I went back... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Oyster:

I went back and read your post again. I apologize for my charaterization of your post - I was wrong about that.

Paul,We w... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Paul,

We were the victims of a terrible sneak attack at Pearl Harbor but we never even thought that meant that we could manifest our outrage at that event by torturing the Japanese.

Well, there was that time we dropped not one, but two atomic bombs on them.

I mentioned that it's not your ideology that is flawed, it's the direct application of it that never seems to actually pass muster in the real world, not consistently and not as a single driving solution anyway.

And that's why it bothers me so much that we are allowing the hatred of the terrorists to drag us down to their level like this.

You and I both know what's "down to their level" and this aint it.

And rules of warfare aren't... (Below threshold)

And rules of warfare aren't about taking the high ground. Never have been. It's all "we won't bomb hospitals *if* you ensure they aren't military targets." "We won't shoot civilians *if* all your combatants are in uniform."

"We won't blow up buildings with children in them *if* you don't hide there or use that place as a fire base."

But all this assumes that the enemy, like ourselves, gives a rat's *ss about hospitals, civilians, or children. Not *our* civilians and children, but their *own* civilians and children.

In this conflict we are long past the place where we could count on the enemy to care about their own people even if they'd just as soon kill ours. No. It's not that we hope that by treating them well despite believing that even their children are vermin better off dead that they will treat those we love well.

Because we don't believe that. (No matter how we dehumanized Germans or Japanese in times past.)

In this conflict we care about their children and their civilians and refrain from killing them whenever possible simply for their own sakes.

And *still* we are made out to be barbarous sorts who ignore what is good and right because some people point out that the reciprocal nature of the Conventions simply doesn't apply. The purpose of them simply doesn't apply.

Paul Hamilton finally says ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Paul Hamilton finally says it: "America WAS a great nation once." I have always thought and said that liberals hate america and what it stands for and are a self loathing bunch. Here it is. No one is advocating torture, but if we don't give the detainees nail clippers, we are torturing them. The detainees say they were tortured, the military says no. The liberals believe the terrorists.

JFO, quit whining. Cheesh. We are fighting a war here. We aren't going to make friends. ww

You think this makes me hap... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

You think this makes me happy, Willie? I see constitutional government evaporating before my eyes, I see the moral principles which made us great being abandoned in favor of relativism and the easy path of hatred, I see our representative democracy and balance of powers being mocked by an executive branch that considers itself above the law or even reproach.

The terrorists don't have a thing to do with it -- we're marching toward the abyss waving flags all the way!

Heralder, we dropped the A-... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Heralder, we dropped the A-bombs because the alternative was hundreds of thousands of American and allied deaths that would have surely taken place if we had invaded Japan. I didn't think much of the targets we picked, but I have no gripe about using the most effective weapons to win the war.

>>You and I both know what's "down to their level" and this aint it.

When I see a comment like this one from Jay...
Especially if the execution is coupled with some judicious desecration of the corpses -- anointing them with pig lard, for example.
...I'd have to say we're just about there. That's not justice, it's pure hatred.

Paul, you have got to be ki... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Paul, you have got to be kidding. . . you have more rights now than at any time in America's past. Or did your history courses skip over slavery, two World Wars (with far greater control of the media than now), the 60's draft, homosexuality being treated as a mental illness, etc etc.

Get off your cross, we need the wood for something useful.

It's not hatred.I ... (Below threshold)

It's not hatred.

I don't necessarily agree that we should desecrate corpses but it's not about hatred.

It's about understanding that we're dealing with people who believe that it matters and who probably care more about what happens after death than what happens to them before. If they are dying for virgins, figuring out what would take those virgins away from them isn't about *hate*. It's about deterrence.

We are so very careful not to offend their religion, and in general terms I agree with that. But I think we worry too much about offending moderates or regular folks when, in fact, they too might think that a person who kills children deserves a pig lard bath after death.

It might not be a bad idea to let it be known to those who set bombs off in marketplaces that they won't escape judgment by killing themselves in the process. Would they be so willing to die if what remains of their bodies, as much as can be *certain* was not someone else's body, was going to be fed to pigs or dogs?

It's not about hating them. It's about the next martyr, and the next.

"That's exactly what the te... (Below threshold)
Ben:

"That's exactly what the terrorists do."

Terrorists also eat, drink, sleep, and pee.

This "exactly what the terrorists do" argument was, is and shall remain a crock.

We may kill people, when we have to. We do not intentionally kill innocent people as an act of reverence for our god.

Ben

The detainees say ... (Below threshold)
The detainees say they were tortured, the military says no. The liberals believe the terrorists.

And that about sums up the entire argument. Who you gonna' believe? The terrorists or the lying, filthy Americans.

Synova, even if you don't b... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Synova, even if you don't believe it's hatred on our part, what is the benefit in feeding the rage of people who are already homicidal maniacs? Do you really think that would deter any attacks or would it just make attacks more likely as more people would be recruited by the terrorist groups in response to the outrage?

Ask yourself how you would respond to radicals desecrating American bodies -- would you be deterred or more determined than ever?

If you want to know how rel... (Below threshold)

If you want to know how religious radicals will behave, ask religious radicals. Ask the fundies and evangelicals. Ask someone who believes in hell.

*I* would be more determined in the face of the desecration of Americans bodies. And am, for that matter. But I don't believe that "desecrating" means what it's roots are anymore. I don't believe that anything done to a body before or after death has an effect on their eternal destination. I don't believe that someone who doesn't get "last rites" is punished by God for not having that last confession or blessing.

That's not part of my belief system.

Do I think that it would make the problem worse? No. I don't. More people might be recruited, but they would be *highly* motivated to fight in a way that preserved their own lives. What the mullahs have been selling, Paul, is paradise. They've been selling an after-death reward. Even those who aren't strictly trying to be a martyr are doing it for their God.

Now, *my* God wouldn't reject someone because their body was defiled. I get the idea that the Islamic god would. He's an easily offended deity.

If the remains of suicide bombers, who certainly deserve to rot in hell, were fed to pigs (and pigs certainly will eat flesh), would there be more suicide bombers? No. In order to get more volunteers the Mullahs would probably have to reform their whole religion.

Now wouldn't that be a hoot? If the reformation of Islam was triggered by Mullahs who had to tone down the rhetoric in order to convince suicide bombers that their god *wasn't* the sort that just arbitrarily hated those who didn't follow his rules?

"Ask yourself how you wo... (Below threshold)

"Ask yourself how you would respond to radicals desecrating American bodies -- would you be deterred or more determined than ever?"

Oh, but they are desecrating American bodies - and any other body they can. They're also terrorizing indiscriminately, killing indiscriminately, subjugating, torturing and any other heinous act they can conjure up indiscriminately. And we still haven't gone anywhere near their level even after decades.

So I really don't get your question.

Paul,Ask ... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Paul,

Ask yourself how you would respond to radicals desecrating American bodies -- would you be deterred or more determined than ever?

What answer are you fishing for here? That I would 'forgive' them...or that I would set a good example by not desecrating the bodies of their dead and they would follow suit out the the kindess of their black hearts?

The former is not my place to do and the latter has already proved disappointingly ineffectual.

John Irving, what you said ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

John Irving, what you said to Paul Hamilton is priceless. I cannot believe that anyone with a thinking brain can convince themselves that America is not great. People are lining up in the millions to get a chance to love this country. Millions of countries rely on our help financially and militarily and we provide it. When disasters strike anywhere, even on our enemies, our government rises to the occasion and helps. The list goes on but people like Paul Hamilton stay in the gutter and try to convice others to join them. Paul, read some history, it may inspire you. ww

Synova, the Catholic church... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Synova, the Catholic church believes that those who die a martyr's death go directly to heaven, so that's not exactly a unique belief. (See the movie "Jesus Camp" for an example of a Christian child wishing for martyrdom) But I suspect that most of the people who strap a bomb to their bodies aren't doing it for the afterlife. Instead they're so stupid or fanatical that they could be convinced to kill themselves for the sake of politics. Not all who cry the name of a deity are sincere...

Oyster, the question is very simple -- do we set our standards of behavior based on the actions of terrorists.

Heralder, I'm saying that provocative actions, such as desecrating bodies, inspire rage and increased determination, not capitulation.

Willie, none of those remarks address the fact that our liberties have been suffering lately, and pointing that out is a service. I really question the motivations of those who refuse to acknowledge any shortcomings in their own nation. Were you as charitable toward Bill Clinton and Janet Reno as you are toward Bush and Gonzales?

So, I shall pose a... (Below threshold)
So, I shall pose a question to you. Do you believe "prisoners" should be "selectively" chosen and "summarily" shot to make an example?

Considering this is not even happening, I don't see much point in answering your hypothetical.

I will answer anyway however - no, I don't think they should be shot. Captured unlawful combatants are valuable intelligence resources, and killing these bastards is too often exactly what they want from us anyway.

Not that I would lose any sleep over it.

Thanks for the answer Ken. ... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Thanks for the answer Ken. i appreciate hearing back.

By the way it was one of the issues raised by Jay in his post and not a "hpothetical" of mine, and it is the one I have been responding to - from Jayy Tea:

"For example, the summary execution of prisoners. What benefit is served by that?"

You suspect they aren't doi... (Below threshold)

You suspect they aren't doing it for religion? Why, Paul? Because *you* wouldn't do it for religion?

Certainly politics comes into it, it always does, but the methods are about eternity. A person might be willing to die for the cause, die for their country, or most particularly, die for their fellow soldiers. But that's not the plan. They plan *not* to die.

Talk to a True Believer. Talk to someone who believes that damnation is real and permanent.

The problem with "how would *I* feel about this" is that not everyone thinks the way that I think. Not everyone has the sensibilities that I have.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's not the enlightened liberal Europhile who best understands the mindset of Islamic fundies. Heck, they can't even understand Christian fundies and we're supposedly from the same culture.

Ask a fundamentalist who at least understands the notion of a God as real as the chair I'm sitting on. Ask a Christian fundamentalist how a religious radical thinks and how they might react to one thing or another. At least they have a small chance of being right.

Well JFO then let me ask yo... (Below threshold)

Well JFO then let me ask you:

Do you think unlawful combatants should be given more in the way of rights than a military tribunal a la Quirin?

If so, why?

Synova, I *was* a Christian... (Below threshold)
Paul Hamilton:

Synova, I *was* a Christian fundie at one point in my life so I think I at least have an inkling how they think... The one thing that fundamentalism has in common across faiths is that it discourages the process of individual reasoning in favor of submersion of the individual in the belief.

But remember that several of the 9-11 hijackers, who were supposed to have been just as religiously-insane as you claim most suicide bombers are, were drinking and visiting strip clubs before their mission. So I still tend to believe that while religion plays a factor, politics might be a bigger one and I'd never discount stupidity either.

Throughout world history, I... (Below threshold)

Throughout world history, I can recall no Christian suicide bombers. Christianity does not view suicide as "martydom" and I can think of no significant christian sect that does.

Oh, and Catholicism, if it ... (Below threshold)

Oh, and Catholicism, if it says a martyr goes straight to heaven, also says that a person who commits suicide never does. (With an exception if they were mentally ill, I believe.)

Looks like JFO lost interes... (Below threshold)

Looks like JFO lost interest when he was asked a point blank question about something he claims to be so well versed on. In others words he's only interested in making other people qualify their opinions. He makes assumptions about your character and then demands you deny it.

Nevermind that Jay asked a question: "For example, the summary execution of prisoners. What benefit is served by that?" and then took two paragraphs explaining what undeniable benefits are derived from such an action.

As I said earlier, the shock value of such an action can't be underestimated. And it sounds like that's exactly what Jay was saying, only in more detail and better than I could. While JFO never contends that said benefits are false, my guess is that he lashed out simply because his sensibilites were offended that the subject was even broached and made sweeping generalizations from an assumption that Jay thinks the idea is just splendid.




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