Thursday, June 22, 2006

War Is Not a Limited Time Offer

I find it absurd that some would argue that because our enemy won't stop attacking us and trying to kill us, that we should release those of the enemy we capture just because we don't know when the war will end.

Why should we handicap our ability to fight back and win just because our enemy is particularly determined to kill us no matter how long it takes them?

Luckily, one of our deputy assistant secretaries of defense is on the case on the Washington Post radio to knock down this silliness.

Eugene Robinson takes the Idiotic side in the debate:

Twenty-four hours ago on this very program, Washington Post columnist Gene Robinson argued, as he does in his column today, that, quote, “Anyway you look at it, arbitrary indefinite detention without formal legal charges is an abandonment of the very ideals that the U.S. is supposedly fighting to spread throughout the world.”

Any way you look at it? Well, first of all, you have to look at it as a law enforcement issue and not a war. Cally Stimson replied, through an interruption that reflects the confusion of Robinson's statement:

First off, there’s approximately 460. And you know, during a time of war, which we’re at war – we need to remind all our listeners that we are at war – any nation who detains its enemy is entitled to keep the enemy detained throughout the duration of the conflict.

And what Mr. Robinson is doing in his article is he’s conflating or mixing or melding two very important different concepts. One concept being a criminal law context: charges, rights, Miranda, courts; and the law of war context, which is detain the person throughout the duration of the conflict until the conflict is over. There are two purposes served in both of those –

Q I guess that what he and others have said is that this is a war that, at least for now, doesn’t seem like other wars. I think everybody has conceded that. And you know, you say for the duration of the conflict. Who knows how long that’s going to

MR. STIMSON: Yeah, that’s the tough issue. And what that does not entitle the opponents of the war to do is to create out of thin air a law, a rule – which doesn’t exist, by the way – that says, well, since we don’t know when it’s going to end, then we get to meld the law of war and meld that with a criminal law context.

I mean, let me give you a perfect example: In World War II, when we were lucky enough to detain our enemy – let’s say the Nazis, for instance – those detainees, those prisoners, they didn’t know when the war was going to end. They didn’t get a nickel to call their lawyer. They weren’t even given lawyers, because you don’t give your enemy a lawyer for a trial because it’s understood – and it has been understood for over 50 years in the Geneva Convention – you don’t get a trial and get a lawyer, a Johnnie Cochran, to try to pop you out of a detention facility.

And so there’s this constant mantra, this drumbeat that, oh, they need charges, they need lawyers, they need a trial because we don’t know when the end of the war’s going to be. Well, that’s the way wars are.

If our enemy would be so kind as to state when they will stop fighting if they haven't won by then, we could offer a date for release.

If our enemies fought as lawful combatants we could treat them differently, too.

But sadly, the enemy seems determined to kill us all no matter how long it takes and the enemy violates virtually every law of warfare there is. They're lucky we don't shoot them on the spot. We don't have to take unlawful combatants prisoner under international law.

We are at war with implacable killers. A war they chose to wage against us. Hold those scum until they rot, for all I care. Or close Guanatanamo and just shoot every thug terrorist we scoop up off the battlefield. Either way is fine by me.