Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My thoughts on Guantanamo Bay...

Strangely, most of the people I personally know are very supportive of the Guantanamo Bay prison complex, which has housed hundreds of *suspected* terrorists...including the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Now I know some of you may be reading this, and asking yourselves "Huh? What? But...but...that guy confessed! What do you mean, 'allegedly', man? He confessed!".

Yes, I mean exactly that. ALLEGED.

Did he actually confess to being the "mastermind" behind September 11th? Yes, he did...after being tortured daily, six times a day, for more than a month straight. I'm quite certain that after enduring that, I'd probably be willing to admit that I was Vladimir Lenin.

Aside from the obvious aspect of torture, the whole concept of Gitmo just really grates on me. Perhaps it's because I believe in America. Not the America that my home nation has become, but the America that our founders dreamed of. The America that was based upon the idea of freedom. The America that has the right to a trial by jury, the presumption of innocence, and a protection against "cruel and unusual" punishments.

Time and time again, I have heard the same old tired lines. "...if we give these terrorists [sic] the right to an open trial, we only embolden the terrorists!" "If we present evidence in an open court, we give away our intelligence-gathering tactics to the terrorists [sic]!" "We captured these terrorists [sic] on the battlefield! They're war criminals!"

All of these excuses are, in fact, utter bullshit. Our government has spun the "unlawful combatant" crap around so much that people actually believe it. Allow me to be the first to tell you, THE TERM "UNLAWFUL COMBATANT" IS FOUND NOWHERE IN THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS. Seriously. I've read every single one of them, in their entirety, and I haven't seen it yet. You can easily find them via the Googles, as did I. They aren't hard to find.

Many people like to quote a particular section regarding the wearing of a particular uniform or insignia as a requirement of being recognized as a "combatant". Well, hate to break it to you, but that little portion hasn't been a requirement of being considered a "Prisoner of War" since 1977, when the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions (I) were signed.

There are, according to international law, only one classification of armed combatants not to be given protected status as a Prisoner of War, or protections equal to that of a Prisoner of War...mercenaries are this class, and enjoy no protections whatsoever under any international law. It's legal to shoot them, anywhere in the world, as soon as this status has been declared. It has, in fact, happened quite a bit in the past century...most commonly in the African bush, where foreign mercenaries are often used because hiring them is cheaper than training and arming the citizenry.

Persons not meeting the requirement of "Combatant" as listed in paragraph 3 ARE TO BE GIVEN PROTECTIONS EQUAL TO THAT OF COMBATANT, regardless of prior acts.

The United States is a signatory party to the AP77(I)...but we didn't actually ratify it. Our actions are legal under US law, but illegal under international law. We have the unfortunate distinction of being one of only seven nations on the planet that haven't fully ratified it. The other six include Israel, Iran, Iraq (Saddam-era and Post Saddam-era), Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Is this really the company we want to be keeping?

The rationale for instituting the AP77(I) was quite simple, and was a direct result of what is known as 4th Generation Warfare. Essentially, it was understood that when you have a massively more powerful military force being confronted by a much smaller military force (US at Lexington and Concorde, French resistance v. Nazis, Palestinians v. Israel, Afghanistan v. USSR, et cetera), there is no valid way for them to meet each other on a traditional battlefield.

You can't rightly expect a hundred men (and often, teenage boys) armed with antique rifles to go against Vulcan-armed helicopters, Abrams tanks, and a platoon of Marines armed with the latest and greatest that we have to offer...because they'd get mowed down.

The international community has seen fit to understand this. You can't expect to put Mike Tyson in the ring with a retarded six year old boy, and expect it to be a "fair fight". On the same note, you can't expect a couple thousand Afghanis armed with 30-year-old AK47s and a few US-supplied shoulder-fired missiles to stand up to three divisions of the Soviet army on an open battlefield and stand a chance.

Before I go any further, I would like to declare something outright, so you aren't getting the wrong idea...because what I am about to say might offend some people here. I just want to make sure you don't get it twisted. The intentional act of knowingly killing civilians, for whatever purpose, by any armed force, is inherently wrong.

When you pick up arms, and knowingly participate in armed conflict, you should understand something prior to doing so. Namely, there is a very serious chance that you may come home in a rubber sack, if you make it home at all. This goes for all sides of all conflicts that have ever been fought. If you get into a boxing ring, you should expect to get hit in the face. If you wear a uniform and sport a rifle in combat, you should expect to have someone trying to kill you. I'm not saying it's the way the world ought to behave, I'm merely saying you should reasonably expect it. If you take a job where you're issued a rifle, you should be expecting that there's a reason for this...and it's probably not just for target practice. It's a goddamned war, and people die in wars. That's kinda the point. Don't like it? Don't be a part of it. The only way to be absolutely certain to not be a "statistic" is to not be a participant.

Now, moving right along. People complain that our enemy is "indestinguishable from the civilian population". Well, if that ain't the best form of camouflage, I don't know what is. What are you expecting, a bull's eye tattooed on his forehead? If you expect your enemy to show himself on the battlefield, don't be a hypocrite. Don't use the sand-colored digital break-up camo on your uniforms and the Krylon super-flat camo spraypaint on your gear. Paint your shit in day-glo orange for the world to see, if you're going to demand that the enemy show themselves openly.

Some people say that roadside bombs (officially known as an "Improvised Explosive Device", or an "IED") are taking the coward's route to killing the enemy. Ummm, what? Do we not still use what is known as a Claymore Mine? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the only difference between the two merely the manner in which it is made? An IED is built using random stuff I can buy at Wal-Mart, O'Reilly's, and any other store necessary. As Timothy McVeigh so horribly demonstrated, a massive bomb can be made using fertilizer and motor oil. Even I could build a simple detonator using a digital guitar tuner and an air horn (please don't ask me how I know this!). The difference between an IED and a US Gov't-issued Claymore mine is not the manner in which it is used, but rather, the fact that a Claymore is mass-produced and clearly has "This Side Toward Enemy" stamped on the front. The enemy ISN'T SUPPOSED TO KNOW it's there.


Okay, now that we've got a few of my thoughts out of the way, let's continue on to some other things. The war against America, being fought by Al Qaeda, is not a war that was started over a simple militaristic act of aggression, in the manner that our wars with Japan and Germany were started over.

America has been instigating this action for years. Yes, hate me all you want, but I said it. AMERICA STARTED THIS CRAP. Now, before you go on calling me "one of those America-hating liberals", let's look at the real truth.

1) America has been sticking its nose in the business of random Arab nations since back when Moses wore short pants. Can you say "ArAmCo Oil"?

2) Since the UN Partition Plan of 1947 (and don't even get me started on how one-sided this crap was!), the United States has consistently been playing the role of the "bad-ass older brother" whenever Israel wanted to go around acting like she was a hard-ass.

3) The United States played a significant role in removing the governing body of Iran, and replacing it with the dictatorial "Shah", which lead to anti-American sentiment across the entire Arab world...even though it had no right whatsoever to do so.

4) The US invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq without any rational justification (feel free to challenge this, and I'll have to hit you with facts rather harshly, you'll embarrass yourself), and further continued to occupy it without any real plan. Most rational people understand that the only reason for going was for war profiteering, which should be painfully obvious.

5) The US, which had despised Iran ever since they deposed of the Shah, had supported Iraq's efforts against Iran...which is why we sold Saddam Hussein chemical weapons for use against Iran.

6) The US supported oppressive regimes such as the Taliban when they did things we felt necessary (such as outlawing the production of Opium Poppy). They continue to support the gov't of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, because of their oil output, even though these regimes provide some of the most repressive affronts to basic civil liberties that we have ever known.

If a person wants to look at why Osama Bin Laden attacked New York (twice, I might add!), one need look no further than Osama Bin Laden himself. God knows he's made enough damned videos on the subject!

Quite simply, the common man had grown tired of Uncle Sam's bullshit in the mideast. He didn't launch a full-scale assault on a US military installation, because attempting to do so would have failed miserably. He instead did what we did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki...he went after a civilian population, in an attempt to make the citizens of this nation wake up to what was happening around them under their flag and as perpetrated by their government.

I'm not saying that killing civilians is ever proper. It's not right when we do it, and it's certainly not right when they do it. I'm just saying that it happens, and it is a means to an end. What you take from that is what it is.

More to the point, what I'm saying is that if you're going to try to hold the moral "high ground", you had best be on point...because someone is going to check your ass if you aren't acting right. Our government likes to talk about how the enemy has no respect for human life because they attack indiscriminately...while we go around bombing wedding ceremonies full of civilians, because there may be militants present. They want to talk about how Saddam used WMDs against the Kurds a few decades ago, while we're still using Willie Pete rounds against our enemies in civilian-populated areas (and still providing these rounds to Israel, knowing that they are regularly doing the same in Palestine).

We like to talk about how "the enemy doesn't respect the international Laws of Armed Combat", when we are showing the same lack of respect. If our leaders (both under Bush AND Obama) were to be tried according to the Nuremberg standards, they'd be dangling from a rope.

If we're going to talk about respect for human life, principles of law, and the LoAC, it's high time we start walking the walk. It's time to close Gitmo, prosecute those who allowed it to open, prosecute those who authorized torture, and publicly denounce it as a matter of national policy.

The perpetrators of 9/11 pale in comparison to the actors of the Holocaust. Yet, for some reason, we still gave Herrman Goering and his colleages the decency of a fair and open trial, so that we might share with the world all the proof that we had of their guilt. How many Nazis did we hang that day?

If they did wrong, let them pay for it...but don't deny these people the basic right to defend their actions in a fair and open court of law, because that is the American way. It is the moral, right, and just way. If there's enough evidence of wrongdoing, share it with the world and prove that we hold the moral high ground. Don't just say it, torture people indefinitely without charges, and expect no one to get upset...because it's not just the french who get upset by this. Robert Jackson would be spinning in his grave if he could see this shit.

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