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June 18, 2005

And while I'm away, I pose this question

Jeff Harrell has a provocative post on Durbin and how his remarks are right -- in the rhetorical sense of how so many people engage in moral equivalency. You know, "bad is bad", whether it's swiping a chocolate bar from a 7/11 or sawing the head off Wall Street Journal reporter. Some good discussion going on in the comments and I'm going to repost a comment I made there:

Take a moment and think on this -- how is the Geneva Convention enforced?

It's not. There is no GC police force or courts.

The GC holds force only by the goodwill of its signatories and the incentives provided by the way it is written.

Islamists in general and al Qaeda in particular are not signatories to the GC AND in both word and deed they reject the GC.

What incentive does al Qaeda or other non-signatories have to actually become signatories if they know they will be treated to the full power of the GC and never have to abide by it themselves?

The GC makes clear distinctions between civilians/POWs and others. And it puts the responsibility of harm to civilians who are used as shields on the people who USE them as shields (ie when Islamists hide among civilians the Islamists are 100% responsible for any harm to civilians, even if the harm is from American or Iraqi National soldiers)

You'll get no argument from me that a lot of "wrong"/"immoral" things can still be legal. However, no one has yet to tell me WHY it is wrong, when we are still at war in keeping irregulars captured on the field of battle sequestered until a resolution of the war/hostilities.

When al Qaeda sues for peace and negotiates a cease-fire/surrender, THEN we can talk a timetable for the release of people from Gitmo.

Posted by Darleen at June 18, 2005 07:16 AM


Well, Dar, there are two good answers to that, not necessary mutually compatible.

The first is that the indefinite detention of prisoners just isn't what America stands for. Yes, it's been done in the past. The precedents are all over the place. But it contradicts all the values on which we established our country. I think slippery-slope arguments are inherently bogus, but I think when we make it the established policy of the United States to hold people in custody forever with no process for either sentencing them or releasing them, we seriously damage our national culture and our respect for the sanctity of the judicial process and the rule of law.

The second answer is that al-Qaida will never sue for peace. This isn't a war between two rationally self-interested parties. It makes no more sense to think that al-Qaida will surrender than to imagine that smallpox would have surrendered. So "we'll release 'em when al-Qaida surrenders" is a nonsensical statement, meaning either "we'll release them at some arbitrary time in the future" or "we'll never release them." I don't care for either of those.

Now, we can continue to debate whether what we're doing at Gitmo is the right thing or the wrong thing in these circumstances. We MUST continue to debate that. But I don't think it's really fair to say that what we're doing at Gitmo is an absolute good with no negative consequence. That's hubris, and hubris above all things must be avoided. History has taught us that some fairly horrible things can happen when folks are too sure of themselves.

Posted by: Jeff Harrell at June 18, 2005 09:59 AM

Jeff says:

The second answer is that al-Qaida will never sue for peace.
If you look carefully at how these people became prisoners (e.g., captured on the battlefield carrying al Qaeda literature, were known terrorists, or known sympathizers), I think you would admit that the vast majority of those remaining in Gitmo are legitimate threats. So here's my question, Jeff:

So what do we do with proven al Qaeda members?

Posted by: Carrick at June 18, 2005 09:51 PM

Jeff, I agree with you that we are not in a war against an entity that deals with rational self-interest.

Then comes the cost/benefit analysis based on OUR self-interest, because, frankly we owe nothing..morally or legally...to terrorists whose raison d'etre is our destruction.

What do we gain by closing Gitmo tomorrow and releasing these irregulars back to their masters? The Islamists won't love us any more if we do so than when we captured them, because their hate of us is based on our existence not our actions.

Will Europe love us more? I think not. They have their own issues, a strange combination of envy covered by disdain of America coupled with a growing unease with the fanatical Islamists in their midst they feel they must apease.

Will American Leftists love America more? Again, no they will not. Because like Islamists, their hatred of America is not based on mere action. They hate capitalism, they hate people who rise on talent and merit ... indeed, American Leftists are intolerant - in the name of "tolerance" - anyone that disagrees with their tenets. Look at how they view the US military, how they aggitate to throw recuiters off campuses and how they fete deserters and malcontents.

And let's say that the LOVE of these groups is not what you want to achieve, but merely want to shut down a prison you think has become a PR problem due to erroneous aggitation of the aforementioned groups. Will they graciously accept the closing as a closed chapter or merely a vindication of their slander? And what if said released irregulars then go on to kill more civilians or American soldiers? Should we not figure that cost, too, in the equation?

Gitmo is no more an absolute good than Pelican Bay or California's 3 strikes law.

But neither is a radical masectomy.

We ARE fighting people who are fully dedicated to annihilating us. We can either annihilate them or isolate them. Anything else is playing their game and the past is evidence of the danger of their fanaticism (Islamism almost fully subsumed Christendom).

Posted by: Darleen at June 18, 2005 10:08 PM

- The biggest liberal lie in all of this - one that most people still keep overlooking, is the statement Dem haranguers like the brain dead old reprobate from Mass. keeps spouting, namely that the detainies have not been given due process. In fact, each and everyone of the Gitmo "civilian combatents", as the liberals prefer rather than murdering thugs, has been before a military tribunal. Every one. Malkin thouroughly debunks this whole canard. Its just another example of the desperate, self imploding Dems to stem the tide of their doomed, Europe based socialistic party. Its as dead as Marx.

Posted by: Big Bang Hunter at June 22, 2005 09:26 PM