Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things Going On.

There's a lot going on, but I don't have a lot to say.

I wonder about the “Enemy Combatant” controversy. Capture one: do you try him (or her) in a courtroom or a tribunal? What kind of treatment are they entitled to? What rules apply when all of the conventions of war and identity have been blurred beyond recognition?

“Enemy Combatants” are usually guys with machine guns who engage in straight up gunfights. Lots of them get captured, or surrender, in any war. They are held in POW camps, sometimes they go and work on farms or something, they are treated well, at least if they are captured by us (after an initial danger period), and when the conflict ends, they are allowed to return to their homeland. No one suggests that they should receive trials and punishments for machine gunning, or blowing up, American troops, it was a war, they were in uniform.

Then there are the “Enemy Saboteurs.” These guys are out of uniform, they operate behind our lines, and they try to raise some kind of hell to advance their country's military agenda. When they are caught, they are tried in military tribunals, stripped of their POW status, and put to death. They are treated with extreme prejudice; the treatment of snipers is fraternal by comparison. But they were out of uniform, and not engaged in conventional military activity, so the treatment that they receive is understandable.

I don't recall torture being part of the program for capturees in either category. It must have happened, though, the odds are good. People get angry, and they act out, war is a milieu of suffering and death. Plus, lots of prisoners never made it all the way back to safety and official POW status. They were instead herded into a ditch beyond the first bend in the road and shot. People get angry, after all, and things happen. Some American soldiers who did these things in the past were Court Marshaled and sent to Leavenworth; mostly it was glossed over.

What should be done with the new crop of unlucky gunsels who take up arms against us and then fall into our clutches? Good question.

It's an interesting question, and it will certainly be interesting to historians, and journalists, and writers of all stripes, bloggers even. After a war, much political hay is made about the fairness and compassion, or lack thereof, displayed by the various participating countries. America has always come out on the good end of these comparisons. Hopefully, our better natures will prevail in the current unpleasantness too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would you like to weigh in on the Dresden debate currently being rekindled by it's anniversary?