March 28, 2003

IS ALAN COWELL DEFENDING WAR CRIMES in advance? The Scrutineer thinks so, and makes a pretty damning case. Excerpt:

Apparently Cowell finds nothing illegal, let alone “dishonorable,” in faking surrender or disguising yourself as a woman so that you can more easily kill an enemy who spares your life to avoid committing a war crime. Allied commanders may “see” such tactics as dishonorable, but I guess they’re just biased.

Well, it certainly couldn’t be the Times, could it?

UPDATE: I wonder what Cowell would think if — as a “ruse of urban warfare” — we sent a bunch of special forces types in disguised as journalists. Sounds as if it might work:

A French TV crew got lost, while traveling with an American combat unit, and simply drove into Baghdad (where they found a hotel room and decided to stay for the attack on the city.)

Sure, a “ruse” like that would probably put journalists’ lives at risk, but hey — this is “urban warfare” and all bets are off. Right?

UPDATE: A reader suggests that this is too hard on Cowell, because he doesn’t come right out and defend the behavior of the Saddamites. No — but it’s all a matter of balance. If the United States were engaging in flagrant violation of the laws of war, would he maintain such a detached tone? I don’t think so.