September 19, 2006
JOHN HAWKINS IS UNIMPRESSED with arguments that we need to observe the Geneva Conventions in order to protect our troops:
Exactly what protections are our troops being provided by the Geneva Convention? No enemy we've ever fought or are fighting has abided by it. So, in real world terms, the Geneva Convention provides no protection for our troops whatsoever. If we completely withdrew from the Geneva Convention tomorrow, it would have no impact at all on how our troops are treated.
Granted, the Geneva Convention could be of use in the unlikely event that we were to get into a war with Belgium, Italy, Spain or some other Western European nation. However, isn't the argument we're hearing from Europeans and American liberals that we should treat the terrorists we've captured by the rules of the Geneva Convention (as a matter of fact, better than the rules require) despite the fact that they haven't signed onto the treaty? Since that's the case, why wouldn't the same rules apply to any signatories of the treaty that we fought with? Even if, theoretically, we were doing something as evil as kicking their captured soldiers into industrial paper shredders for fun, shouldn't they give our soldiers every benefit the Geneva Convention requires?
What's that, you say? If we don't do it for their soldiers, why should we expect them to treat our troops with respect? Great! Now why doesn't that apply to our troops and Al-Qaeda? If Al-Qaeda is torturing and murdering our troops, why should we treat their captured prisoners as well as, say, American soldiers that are thrown into the brig? Why should we treat some terrorist from Saudi Arabia who wants to kill American citizens like he's a uniformed soldier who follows the rules of war or worse yet, like he has the same constitutional rights as an American citizen?
There are arguments for treating terrorists as if the Geneva Conventions applied, but reciprocity isn't one of them and, as Hawkins notes, the argument from reciprocity actually cuts the other way.