Originally posted by CX
Excuse my ignorance, but i was under the impression that all prisoners of NATO countries were subject to the rules under the Geneva convention
I'm sure your impression is mostly correct; but, it skirts the issue a bit. The big problem with the whole Geneva Conventions Argument is whether
prisoners count as prisoners of war
What with all the screaming from both sides, it’s easy to get caught up in a position without looking objectively at the situation. Here’s my take
In most laws, there is the “letter” of the law, and the “spirit” of the law. A good example would be let’s say you got a speeding ticket for
driving 37 mph in a 35 mph zone. You have clearly violated the “letter” of the law (you were
diving 2 mph faster than the posted limit);
however, have you violated the “spirit” of the law (which is to keep motorists, pedestrians, children, and animals safe by maintaining safe
driving speeds for road conditions)? I don’t think so, and probably neither would most judges.
In some cases, though, the letter and spirit of the law can be pretty darn close to each other, if not identical. In my opinion
, that is the
case here. It is my under informed impression that there is a distinct difference between enemy soldiers
and enemy combatants
. See, the
Geneva Conventions are, essentially, all about making an ugly thing–war–as nice as possible for all involved.
So, for example, all soldiers are supposed to be in uniform
. This way, one can distinguish between soldiers and civilians. And, that is a major
distinction (which I believe is actually spelled out in the Geneva Conventions) between soldiers and combatants
Therefore, if a fighter is not in uniform, and is not part of a country’s
regular army, air force, navy, etc. (no, a band of rebels or
insurgents doesn’t count). That fighter, when captured is, to the “letter” of the law, NOT
a soldier. Instead, he IS
combatant. In my opinion
, because this is specifically addressed in the conventions, I believe that that classification also follows the
“spirit” of the law. That is, the framers of the convention intended
them to be considered enemy combatants.
The next step is that detained/captured enemy combatants, unlike true prisoners of war (captured, uniformed, regular soldiers) are NOT
any protections under the Geneva Conventions. Some may not like it, but I’m pretty sure that’s the way it works. It is designed, in my
, as a way of offsetting the benefit of hiding amongst a civilian population. You do it, that’s your business, but if you are caught, you
can be held forever without trial and not be protected like other POWs.
So, CX, the issue is not really whether NATO signatories are protected, or even if Iraqi army prisoners are protected. Instead, the issue is whether
captured insurgents and suspected terrorists (none of who wear the uniform of any signatory country
) are protected. In short, according to the
Conventions themselves, I believe they are not.
That said, I think regardless of what the Conventions say, I don’t think that it can do the U.S. any harm to consider all
as prisoners of war. Despite the outcry from around the world, we’d realistically probably be the only ones doing it.
And, I must admit, how each side in the U.S. and all the various countries around the world who love to voice there opinions over how we keep our
house, is of great curiosity to me.