Monday, July 03, 2006


A Passel of Alices

I can always count on Mark Steyn to strip away vast layers of pretense, and offer up the core of an issue, and likewise always with wit.

His Sunday Chicago Sun-Times piece more than met my expectations, this time dealing with the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ill-considered Hamdan decision:

There are several ways to fight a war. On the one hand, you can put on a uniform, climb into a tank, rumble across a field and fire on the other fellows' tank. On the other, you can find a 12-year-old girl, persuade her to try on your new suicide-bomber belt and send her waddling off into the nearest pizza parlor.

The Geneva Conventions were designed to encourage the former and discourage the latter. The thinking behind them was that, if one had to have wars, it's best if they're fought by soldiers and armies. In return for having a rank and serial number and dressing the part, you'll be treated as a lawful combatant should you fall into the hands of the other side. There'll always be a bit of skulking around in street garb among civilian populations, but the idea was to ensure that it would not be rewarded --that there would, in fact, be a downside for going that route.

The U.S. Supreme Court has now blown a hole in the animating principle behind the Geneva Conventions by choosing to elevate an enemy that disdains the laws of war in order to facilitate the bombing of civilian targets and the beheading of individuals. The argument made by Justice John Paul Stevens is an Alice-In-Jihadland ruling that stands the Conventions on their head in order to give words the precise opposite of their plain meaning and intent. The same kind of inspired jurisprudence conjuring trick that detected in the emanations of the penumbra how the Framers of the U.S. Constitution cannily anticipated a need for partial-birth abortion and gay marriage has now effectively found a right to jihad -- or, if you're a female suicide bomber about to board an Israeli bus, a woman's right to Jews.

Much of the commentary and public statements by those who view Hamdan as a “triumph” reveal these dreamers as so many “Alices-In-Jihadland.”

I agree whole-heartedly with those who argue that the US must uphold a higher standard, that our military must fight a civilized fight, that there are vital national interests in preserving the highest ideals in how we fight, and how we operate in a post-9/11 world.

The difference between me and my fellow Milbloggers, and this passel of Alices, is that we Milbloggers know that the US and its military have always have upheld those higher standards, notwithstanding isolated violations by individuals, and only very rarely, those who represent official government policies.

The rare exceptions prove the rule. Our enemies everywhere, for decades, have know that it is infinitely better – and often more profitable – to fall into our hands, than to fall into the hands of others, or worse, fall afoul of their own masters.

Ask any German soldier who survived World War Two as a Prisoner of War. Look at survivability of US captives versus Russian. Look at the treatment of Japanese prisoners, even the regrettable internment of Japanese Americans, versus the brutal treatment by Japan of any people or community they occupied or with whom they otherwise came into contact.

The Geneva Conventions were created and remain a noble statement of higher principles in the face of the horrors of war. But they were only a hope against future enemies, that we could appeal to their humanity in maintaining a bare minimum of civility even in this most hellish of human enterprises, war. No surprise that some find their provisions quaint in the face of stateless enemies who intentionally target civilians, countenance the most brutal savagery against them, and in fact adopt horrific practices specifically to weaken our resolve.

Finding them quaint doesn’t mean we cease valuing them, rather, that we don’t waste any time deluding ourselves into thinking our enemies consider upholding these principles, or even consider them at all.

Whatever else they may see through those looking glasses of theirs, these Alices can’t find any answer to the terrorists we face, nor there Mullahcratic Masters who set them in motion.

(Via The Corner)

Linked at Milblogs.

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