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Difference between a US Soldiers and an Iraqi guerilla?

 
 
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 12:51 pm
It seems that some people cannot tell the difference between a US soldier and a guerilla combatant in Iraq. Comparison's keep being made regarding the treatment of an American POW and an insurgent.

The US military is not a secretive organization. They do not disguise themselves as women, they do not target civilians, they do not hide amongst civilians, they do not use hit and run techniques. A US soldier has a commander who has has a commander who has a commander. If you watch CNN you can get an idea about who the commanders are and where they are and what their intentions are. The US military makes its prescence known and it's intentions very clear.

A guerilla combatant hides amongst the civilian populace and works in small bands. They target anyone without discretion, they have hidden motives and agendas, they protect their leadership and they are truly scum. When one is captured, it's not known who they are, where they come from, who they work for.

If you capture a US service person, you look at their uniform and dogtag and you know everything you need to know with the exception of ant specifics about their mission. But, you know where they are form, what division of the military, and who to contact about ransom or whatever.

But, when it comes to the insurgents, they have no identifying insignia, no leadership structure, no real way of identifying them at all. Therefore the old "Name, Rank and serial number" has no bearing in this case as there is no corrabative way to discover whether the information provided is accurate or not. That is why we have trained interrogators who are supposed to question these prisoners.

Obviously there has been a localized malfunction in Iraq as the events in Abu Ghiat unfold. It is tragic that some have taken the law into their own hands and put fellow service people at such a greater risk no. I hope they receive a punishment worthy of their actions, but I also want an end to the insurgency and that will not happen until the leadership behind is held accountable.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 751 • Replies: 10
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Eve
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 09:47 pm
What about sadists disguised as US soldiers delivering freedom?
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 10:16 pm
Quote:
Therefore the old "Name, Rank and serial number" has no bearing in this case as there is no corrabative way to discover whether the information provided is accurate or not. That is why we have trained interrogators who are supposed to question these prisoners.


McG

Are you using this as a justification for unusual interrogation tecniques?

In any combat situation, name/rank/serial number provides no information of critical value in any case. The rule doesn't have information gathering as a goal. It has a goal of disallowing inhuman cohersive questioning techniques.

If German soldiers captured a French resistance fighter, would that Frenchman's non-official status suddenly give the Germans a MORAL excuse to treat them differently?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 06:51 am
blatham wrote:
Quote:
Therefore the old "Name, Rank and serial number" has no bearing in this case as there is no corrabative way to discover whether the information provided is accurate or not. That is why we have trained interrogators who are supposed to question these prisoners.


McG

Are you using this as a justification for unusual interrogation tecniques?

In any combat situation, name/rank/serial number provides no information of critical value in any case. The rule doesn't have information gathering as a goal. It has a goal of disallowing inhuman cohersive questioning techniques.

If German soldiers captured a French resistance fighter, would that Frenchman's non-official status suddenly give the Germans a MORAL excuse to treat them differently?


In my opinion, yes. A uniformed soldier should be treated differently than a non-uniformed combatant. To a certain degree unusual interrogation techniques are neccessary to obtain answers. TO A CERTAIN DEGREE. I bold that to stress the fact that there are indeed limits to these techniques. Things like sleep deprivation, uncorfortable living quarters, loud noises, etc have been shown to be effective methods. Sexual abuse, inflicting physical pain, etc should not be allowed.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 07:10 am
Well, that degree has to be established. And it has been, under the Geneva Conventions, to which the US is signatory. Also, within US military tradition and law.

As the Nazi and French resistance fighter example shows, whether a uniform is worn tells us nothing about moral right, or even about honor.

Intelligence gathering is ALWAYS essential to prosecution of a war or a battle. Those needing it will be certain to believe they are morally right in stretching the rules, or not observing them at all, in their pursuit of it.

So, you have two options. Leave it up to the interpretation of each army, or forgo certain acts absolutely. That's it.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 08:13 am
The geneva convention is very clear on the difference between a uniformed soldier and a non-uniformed combatant. One is entitled to the protection of the Geneva convention because they are following the rules of war. The other is not. If you want the rules to apply to you, you must first agree to follow them yourself.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 08:23 am
McG

Yes, you are right. There is a mix of codes to which the US is signatory, and there are the codes formulated within the US military itself. Here's a nice rundown of some...
http://www.globalissuesgroup.com/geneva/history.html

However, what the other side is doing is irrelevant to whether YOU are obligated to uphold the codes to which you are signatory.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 08:35 am
From Blatham's link

Quote:
International Rules About Soldiers

The Geneva Conventions and supplementary protocols make a distinction between combatants and civilians.

The two groups must be treated differently by the warring sides and, therefore, combatants must be clearly distinguishable from civilians.

Although this obligation benefits civilians by making it easier for the warring sides to avoid targeting non-combatants, soldiers also benefit because they become immune from prosecution for acts of war.

For example, a civilian who shoots a sholdier may be liable for murder while a soldier who shoots an enemy soldier and is captured may not be punished.

In order for the distinction between combatants and civilians to be clear, combatants must wear uniforms and carry their weapons openly during military operations and during preparation for them.

The exceptions are medical and religious personnel, who are considered non-combatants even though they may wear uniforms. Medical personnel may also carry small arms to use in self-defense if illegally attacked.

The other exception are mercenaries, who are specifically excluded from protections. Mercenaries are defined as soldiers who are not nationals of any of the parties to the conflict and are paid more than the local soldiers.

are no longer protected by the Geneva Convention.

Combatants who do fall within the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 08:41 am
McG

Yup, that's the line. But as I mentioned, there are a complex of agreements and legally binding codes which the US soldiers are under in Iraq. And there are apparently other aspects of the Conventions which do apply.

At the hearings yesterday, both Taguba and the Intel civilian acknowledged that US forces were bound by the GC.

So, the legal questions appear a subject worthy of some study.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 08:50 am
I think we both agree that what happened was wrong. That why the investigation is proceeding as it is.

I am merely suggesting that because of these rules, creative interrogation methods do sometimes need to be employed. Within certain boundaries though, and within the UCoMJ and the laws of the USA.

I think that much of the outrage over this incident has been overblown and politicised as well though.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 May, 2004 09:26 am
I know you do. My view is somewhat different. I think this issue is of such deep importance to both the reputation of America (which I continue to think a source of hope for increasing civility in the world) and to future safety, that it almost can't be overblown.

Elsewhere, fox and yourself have suggested that I (and others) might be overly happy at this bad news. It's a charge I have to reflect upon.

With honesty as deep as I can reach it, I'll confess I am happy as regards only one aspect, and that is the increasing liklihood this adminstration, and a whole set of political notions that live in it, will fall in the next election. I do, most definitely, think that a good thing. But I'd MUCH rather it had been some other event that pushed them over the edge. This is bad for everyone.
0 Replies
 
 

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