Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Law of War

You can read about the 1949 Geneva Convention (Convention III deals with prisoners, this is the one that Chimpy thinks is "quaint") or the other international agreements on the conduct of armed conflict or the Lieber Code if you like.

This is my take on the rules of war. Most can be boiled down to variations of "I'll do unto you like you'll do unto me" or "do not do unto others that which is hateful to you." The rules of war are, to some extent, self enforcing, because if you violate them, your enemy will retaliate.

If you have read "All Quiet on the Western Front", you might remember a mention of how the new German soldiers were arriving in the trenches with saw-toothed bayonets. The veterans confiscated them and replaced them with smooth-bladed bayonets, for one of the practical rules of trench warfare was if you were captured with one, you were killed with one.

In World War II, Germany mostly observed the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of POWs with regard to the Western Allies and the Western Allies reciprocated. Germany abrogated those same conventions in its conflict with the Soviet Union (with rationales that were stunningly similar to those voiced set forth by Alberto Gonzalez, John Yoo and the cabal of war criminals in the Office of the Vice President), the Russians reciprocated and millions of prisoners died. Japan, in World War I and the following intervention in Vladivostok , was lauded for its correct handling of POWs. That changed in WW2 and, although the Allies did take prisoners, nothing much was thought of just killing every Japanese soldier found.

"I'll do unto you like you did unto me."

This is why you see a very wide difference on the use of torture between Chickenhawks like Romney and Guiliani and veterans like McCain. In any conflict in the future, by our actions, we have legalized the use of torture against any of our combatants who are taken prisoner.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Not to excuse the Germans but the Russians were quite practiced in the (mis)treatment of prisoners, they didn't need any schooling from the Germans. The purges of the 30's had created the machinery they needed to do this. (See The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). Also the Germans were preset do take the kinds of actions they did against the Russians, Poles and all those from the East.

As I side note I really enjoy your aircraft notes, always learn something.

The Earth Bound Misfit said...

Jim,

Nice to meet you. I do try to not always post stuff bashing El Disgusto. :)