Let loose the dogs of war, or, if you’re the Bush administration, keep them trapped in kennels of tin and steel with liberal access for poking sticks.
The latest front in the War on Terrorism is the treatment of 460 suspected Taliban and al-Queda fighters held in Guantanamo, Cuba. The problem is whether or not they should be considered prisoners of war, which would require them to only release information related to their identification. The Bush administration, somewhat unified on the issue, argues that the detainees are unlawful combatants who have not followed the rules of the Geneva Convention and are therefore exempt from the protections the Geneva Convention. Other nations around the world, including Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, are putting pressure on the U.S. to change its position.
Right-wing columnist, Charles Krauthammer, who probably had oodles of friends as a kid despite his last name, agrees with the Bush administration. He highlights two violations: al-Queda and Taliban fighters deliberately infiltrate their enemies by not wearing an insignia or other distinguishing mark and are not a unified national army. He then goes on to make numerous other bloodthirsty arguments, adding support to my theory that all right-wing columnists are vampires.
If Krauthammer and the government want to play by the rules, fine, but if they do, they should play by all of them and not ignore other rules that are hindering their quest for information. The Geneva Convention states that prisoners are to be treated as POWs until their status is determined by a court. All the prisoners stuck in metal cages with tin roofs in Guantanamo need a court to make their treatment legitimate. Let them have one.
What this matter ultimately points to, however, is that the rules currently in place for dealing with foreign conflict are unprepared for the new types of war being waged.
It’s undeniable that America is at war; however, the fact that this is a battle the likes of which have never been seen before would suggest that the rules that came before no longer fit. This isn’t World War II, Vietnam or even Desert Storm. The War on Terrorism is a whole new breed of conflict, so sayeth the media and so sayeth President Bush.
Terrorists like bin Laden and organizations like al-Queda do not represent a nation, and they wage their wars in a physical language foreign to anything we’ve ever experienced before. To expect that bin Laden, the Taliban or al-Queda would conform to the rules of engagement is silly. If they did, they’d be stomped out of existence like a flaming bag of dog doo.
They know it. We know it.
To operate otherwise would be to finally let the French live down the Maginot line as the biggest military blunder in history.
It isn’t likely that any sort of war doctrine could be written to which these new enemies would willingly conform. I don’t see bin Laden signing a rules of engagement list any sooner than I see him appearing on the “Tonight Show”. The best that can be done is to create a standard to which all nations can conform to when dealing with terrorists and nation-less prisoners of the new war.
But until the Bush administration and their lackeys get around to engineering a new-war doctrine, the detainees in question should be given a trial to determine their status. Them’s the rules.
Daily Nexus columnist Steven Ruszczycky thought POW was originally an onomatopoeia coined by Adam West and Burt Ward until he looked it up in the dictionary. His column appears Tuesdays.