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June 03, 2005

Don't You Know That It's Different For Unlawful Combantants?

Very long essay at Eject! Eject! Eject! attempting to explain, for the billionth time, why unlawful combatants are not Prisoners of War.

Worth reading, even if you already get it.

What is the obvious difference between an enemy Prisoner of War, and an Unlawful Combatant? Suppose two of them were standing in a line-up. What one glaringly obvious thing sets them apart?

That’s right! One is wearing a uniform, and the other isn’t.

And why do soldiers wear uniforms?

It certainly is not to protect the soldier. As a matter of fact, a soldier’s uniform is actually a big flashing neon arrow pointing to some kid that says to the enemy, SHOOT ME!

And that’s exactly what a uniform is for. It makes the soldier into a target to be killed.

Now if that’s all there was to it, you might say that the whole uniform thing is not such a groovy idea. BUT! What a uniform also does -- the corollary to the whole idea of a uniformed person – is to say that if the individual wearing a uniform is a legitimate target, then the person standing next to him in civilian clothes is not.

By wearing uniforms, soldiers differentiate themselves to the enemy. They assume additional risk in order to protect the civilian population. In other words, by identifying themselves as targets with their uniforms, the fighters provide a Sanctuary to the unarmed civilian population.

And this Sanctuary is as old as human history. The first civilized people on Earth, these very same Iraqis, who had cities and agriculture and arts and letters when my ancestors were living in caves, wore uniforms as soldiers of Babylon. This is an ancient covenant, and willfully breaking it is unspeakably dishonorable.


Worse – worse by far – than the artificial safety given to enemies not wearing a uniform is the additional horror such behavior will inevitably inflict upon their own civilian population.

And it doesn’t hurt to point out – repeatedly – that the people they are putting at infinitely greater risk are supposedly the very people these so-called Muslim Warriors claim be trying to protect: their own women and children.


Do those protesters ever wonder why prisoners of war in World War II movies – soldiers -- trying to escape in civilian clothes would be shot as spies? A soldier out of uniform, a soldier trying to hide in the civilian population is gaining a one-time personal advantage, but that not the real sin. The real sin is that he is endangering the non-combatants. He is using civilians as cover. He is breaking down the barrier between the armed and the unarmed, the threat and the non-threat. He is trying to have it both ways.

Whenever there is war and invasion, there will be terrified civilians trying to get from one place to another. In the very early hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when we expected to be fighting the same Army that in the Gulf War fully honored the idea of uniformed troops, our soldiers discovered large numbers of unarmed, military-aged men in civilian clothes making for the rear. Many of these men were let through, and promptly took up arms and caused immeasurable damage before blending back into the population.

But they did much worse. Because after a few suicide bombers in civilian vehicles drove up to checkpoints and blew themselves and honor-abiding Coalition soldiers to bits, we have found ourselves having to treat all speeding civilian vehicles as hostile. We simply have no choice anymore. We did not simply decide to open fire on civilians; rather the enemy, in a cold and calculated decision repeated many, many times over, decided to violate the Sanctuary given to civilians to wage war on an American and British Army playing by the rules. They have made the line between civilian and soldier nonexistent. They did this, not us. They did it. They gained the benefits from it, and it has cost us dear. And so perhaps, in a world with less ignorance and more honesty, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena – who sped at a US roadblock, weaving, at more than 60 mph and in violation of warning shots -- would be pointing her finger at the people who violated this Covenant of Civilization, and not those being forced to make terrible decisions in order to preserve it.

You know, I've said a thousand time to lefties: When you see a WWII movie, and a Nazi announces to our covert ops that they will be hanged as spies because they're out of uniform, did you think the screenwriters were just making that shit up?

No, they weren't. A soldier wears a uniform to announce to the enemy that he is a combatant (and, of course, that those out of uniforms are not). A combatant out of uniform is, legally, a "spy" or "saboteur," and hence a common criminal, to be dealt with by criminal justice (including hanging or the firing squad), and not to be afforded the protections and privileges of soldiers actually in uniform.

Now, of course, it will be pointed out by the ninnies that our covert soldiers and actual spies don't wear uniforms all the time either. True enough-- and that's part of what makes them such gutsy motherfuckers, because they know they could be tortured or killed if captured out of uniform, but they're courageous and dedicated enough to run that risk to accomplish an objective that couldn't be accomplished in uniform.

The US has largely abandoned the practice of killing "spies" and "saboteurs." But we still have that right, were we not such pussified sissified twats to exercise it. But we sure as shit have the right to jail these people, and no, we don't have to afford them the full panoply of protections offered to POW's under the Geneva Conventions.

Why do leftists continue to insist that these unlawful combatants be treated precisely as legal soldiers, despite the fact that they are breaking the rules deliberately in a way as to disadvantage our soldiers and greatly increase the chances of civilian deaths? Do they not comprehend -- or, perhaps, do they refuse to admit -- that legal soldiers should be given POW rights as an inducement to obey the Rules of War, and that illegal combatants should be denied such rights, also as an inducement to obey the Rules of War?

Whittle then examines the mindset of such "progressives:"

Why then, do so many people – most of them on the far left – so fundamentally hate humanity?

I think it must be the constant frictions between what they hope people are and what they really are.


Here they sit, surrounded by laws and medicine and art and culture: despising themselves. Remarkable, isn’t it? These people, who pride themselves on nuance, see no difference between a naked human pyramid of ten prisoners lasting two minutes and piles of corpses six million deep. Both shameful, therefore, both equal in their eyes. And we are the ones who only see things in black and white?


So why -- someone? anyone? – why do otherwise intelligent and educated people so despise and detest American society, which has achieved more in the way of individual rights, science, arts, medicine, diversity, cooperation and prosperity than any other in history? Why would they oppose such a society when it is trying to bring these blessings to people who have spent thirty years cowering in dark places, fearful of letting the slightest word slip, or betraying their entire family with an askew glance or unguarded moment? Why would someone so viciously oppose freeing a People who have lived for a generation in total, abject fear?

It’s because they have never lived it. That is what I mean when I say reality has left their building. How many people would be opposing the war in Iraq if they had to watch, actually witness, three or four hundred thousand people being shot in the head in front of their families? At the rate of one life taken every single second, with one unique and irreplaceable person being extinguished every tick of the 60 Minutes stopwatch, going without sleep or rest, you would be at it for three and a half days. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Every face unique, every one someone’s son or mother or precious grandchild. Bang. Bang. Bang. All night and all day, every second for three and a half days. How long to wipe out your entire family? Four seconds? Eight? Thirteen? We have found that many in Iraq, more will follow, believe me.

How many children – four or five year old boys and girls – do you need to see raped in front of you before you change your mind about Iraq? Fifty? Fifty thousand? Will that make a dent in your stainless steel belief system? How many cries for mercy in the muffled corridors of prison basements? Ten thousand? Ten times ten thousand? They were there. They happened.

They just didn’t happen to you. Not in Berkeley. Not in Manhattan. Not in Santa Monica, or at Columbia University. Not in your Sanctuary. If they did we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we? You’d be dead, and it would be your relatives begging for good and powerful people to come to their rescue to stop this horror.

There’s nothing “progressive” about what these people believe. It is refined selfishness and moral cowardice. I can understand not wanting to go overseas and lose blood and treasure to solve other people’s problems. I can at least understand that. But these “progressives” should be thanking whatever they take to be sacred – which is nothing – and hit their knees in gratitude that better, braver people have built them the kind of Sanctuary where torture and state-sponsored murder are so far from their closed eyes that even the act of imagining such horrors is beyond them.

How far from the reality of human nature do you have to be to see our culture as a curse on the Earth, rather than being the only ones willing to roll up our sleeves, shoot the wolves that are eating our kids, go out into the blizzard to collect some firewood and then paint the goddam house?

A long excerpt, and I hope he doesn't mind. Worth reading in full.

Thanks to TomM.

Update: Why We Need Gitmo: Unclassified report on Gitmo-- who's there and why.

For all the talk about innocents being wrongly imprisoned there, it is odd that so many of the detainees were caught with the exact sort of watch preferred by Al Qaeda bomb-makers, as the watch has an alarm function allowing a 24 hour countdown.

I guess maybe it's just a popular timepiece.

H/T to NickS.

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posted by Ace at 12:02 PM

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