Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Debating Gitmo

The Wall Street Journal has an Op-Ed by William McGurn about how Obama's promise to close the detention centre at Guantanamo is not as simple as it seems:

What the American people need today is a sensible policy that recognizes three facts: that terrorists present a unique challenge to our rules of war; that capturing and holding terrorists is different from capturing and holding criminals or prisoners of war; and that the men and women who set up Guantanamo did so not because they were out to shred the Constitution but because, faced with some very imperfect choices, this was thought to be the best way to protect the American people.

It always struck me how quickly people would get outraged over the detention of "illegal combatants." It's against the Geneva Conventions! They scream. However, the enemy here is stateless, doesn't wear a uniform and blends into the civilian population. What part of the Geneva Conventions are they following? (Isn't the whole point of the agreement is that it's reciprocal? We won't play dirty if you won't?) Knowing the American and coalition troops are not allowed to wantonly fire on civilians, they use this to their advantage. If innocent people get killed, then it's a bonus for them. So while Gitmo is troublesome because it's not quite clean legally, I can't summon the outrage to feel that it's unfair.

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