Can someone give me a reasonable, rational explanation as to why the United States of America and a handful of our allies continue to adhere to the dictates of the Geneva Convention, while virtually every enemy we have faced in the last 100 years has not?
Can someone explain to me why our troops are killed, wounded, and taken prisoner time after time by inhuman butchers, in the most recent case the Iranians, whose only real life contact with the Geneva Convention is to use it as toilet paper?
We even have troops who have been, and are, held in deplorable conditions by our own country and charged with crimes against civilians that could result in the death penalty or life in prison upon conviction, on what often is the flimsiest of evidence, including 'eyewitness' testimony from people who won't actually be available for cross examination. Meanwhile the people they are fighting routinely brutalize civilians as means to achieving victory, and are applauded for their tenacity by the World Terrorist Media!
As a brief history lesson, rules governing the wartime conduct of opposing forces that eventually became the First Geneva Convention, were proposed in 1859 after a battle between French and Austrian forces. The convention was inspired by Swiss businessman Henri Dunant, who witnessed the suffering of thousands of wounded soldiers during the bloody battle. Dunant noted that there was no methodology to call a truce so each side could retrieve and care for their wounded, who often were left on the battlefield to die.
The cause was taken up in the United States by Clara Barton who is credited with founding the American Red Cross in 1881, and on the international scene by the Geneva Society for Public Welfare, that later became the International Red Cross. The First Geneva Convention was signed in 1864 by 16 European countries.
Since then the convention has been revisited three additional times, adding provisions for treatment of sailors and others at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians caught in the world's conflicts. From the original 16 countries that signed on, the Geneva Convention now boasts 194 participating countries.
Isn't that nice? And we can see that the dictates of the convention are applied universally everywhere we look, can't we?
Let's see, the convention stopped Germany from using mustard gas and other weapons of mass destruction in WWI. Oops, no, sorry.
Then there was Germany in WWII expanding its use of gas to slaughter millions of Jews and Eastern Europeans. No, sorry, not that either. How about the Japanese? Did the Geneva Convention prevent the rape of Nanking, the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the use of civilians as laborers and sex slaves in the most brutal of conditions? Nope, sorry. Buzz bombs on London? Nope.
How about the Chinese and North Korean communists during the Korean War? The convention really put a crimp on their mistreatment of POWs didn't it? Similar to the restraints practiced by the North Vietnamese Communists and Viet Cong in their handling of POWs and civilians, right?
Wrong again. Actually I shouldn't go too hard on the Vietnamese communists. There is a provision in the GC whereby countries can say they agree with it but submit a document listing exceptions to its provisions. The Vietnamese communists filed a laundry list of exceptions that basically gave them what they already had, the right to act like inhuman butchers on the battlefield and in their POW camps.
And then there was the first Iranian hostage crisis. 444 days of inhumanity, that ended only when former president jimmy carter was tossed out of office and Ronald Reagan was sworn in. Reagan had made no bones about his intentions if our people were still held hostage once he became president. So the leader of the alleged Iranian 'students' who attacked our embassy, now-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known here as Green Bean Almondine, let them go as fast as he could turn the key on their prison cells.
Then there was the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, the ongoing slaughter all across the African continent, Chinese invasions of neighboring countries in the Himalayas, Russian invasions Eastern European countries during the cold war, resulting in the slaughter of millions of innocents, the Cambodian communists, the Vietnamese communists, the Cuban communists, hell, communists everywhere. The list of offenses is longer than the number of countries that have signed this feel-good document.
And now we're back where we were in 1980, with Green Bean Almondine again taking hostages, holding them under deplorable conditions, using them for propaganda, and violating the convention in both letter and spirit. Is anything happening to him? Nope.
Can anyone tell me, with the exception of Nazi Germany and to a lesser extent Japan after WWII, where any country has actually been punished for violating the Geneva Convention?
What is really ridiculous is language in the GC that says anyone who signed it has to adhere to it, even if they are fighting an enemy that didn't sign it. It says, "Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions thereof."
I have only a general idea what that last sentence means, but I put it in there for comic relief. I mean, only a diplomat and/or a lawyer would put language like that in any document.
I am not advocating that the world's armies be degraded to barbarian status. But I am advocating common sense in applying rules to combatants. Remember, the first rule of warfare is to defeat the enemy by any means, fair or foul, and come home alive. Everything after that is superfluous.
In reality, even though the nations of the world sign the Geneva Convention, most of those who believe that human rights apply everywhere but their countries don't adhere to it, and never intended to adhere to it. They like to send their diplomats to the Untied Nations, where they can sip their champagne and munch their caviar, and convince each other that they are heads and shoulders above the huddled masses that represent the rest of humanity.
And there they will talk about the convention, and whether someone is violating it. If they decide after considerable deliberation that someone is in violation they will harrumph, and posture and pose, and talk. They may even dash off a sternly worded note to be delivered through diplomatic channels expressing their 'outrage.' But there it stops.
The end comes when the diplomats are faced with actually doing something. Because what they do is nothing. They posture, and pose, and congratulate each other on being world leaders and humanists, but they will never, ever, be at the point of a spear or the broken end of a bottle.
They will send other people to do their dirty work for them, and occasionally they will engineer the arrest of their own soldiers on trumped up violations of the rules, to show that they are serious about being good humanists and that the rules apply to their (our) country as well as everyone else. But they will never, ever put their own bodies, careers or well being, or those of their friends, families and associates, at risk. Never. Ever.
Because they really believe they are heads and shoulders above the rest of humanity, and they are constantly in the company of others who feel the same way, and they all repeat this to each other as often as necessary to keep themselves from dealing with reality.
I have a suggestion. I think that any country that wants to sign the Geneva Convention must require all of its diplomats, ambassadors and support personnel to serve in the military, in line infantry or combat support positions, such as artillery, helicopters and the like, as lower ranking enlisted men, in a war zone, in combat, before they can work in international relations.
I believe that anyone who is going to be signing away the lives and rights of the people who are doing the fighting, must have been fighters themselves first. I bet that either one of two things will happen as a result.
Either the Geneva Convention will be scrapped as unworkable and unenforceable, or they will come up with a clear, inviolate method of punishing any country that engages in the type of inhuman, Neanderthal behavior that the Iranians and now displaying. Say as in level their capitol city, and render it uninhabitable for three thousand years.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007