Sunday, May 02, 2004

War crimes

Before the Iraq invasion by the US, I got into a huge argument with a dear friend, who is coincidentally a regular listener of conservative radio. His biggest argument: Saddam committed atrocities against his own people and needed to be taken out. You have to put down rabid dogs, he said. With this week's disclosures on 60 minutes II and elsewhere about the atrocities committed by the US on Iraqi prisoners, I'm horrified to see the US guilty of war crimes in Iraq. These are war crimes, right?
    The rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war are spelled out in the third Geneva Convention of 1949. The Convention requires that POW’s “must at all times be treated humanely,” and goes on to list a number of specific requirements: they must not be killed, seriously endangered, mutilated or subject to medical or scientific experiments. Furthermore, they must be protected against acts of violence or intimidation, and against “insults and public curiosity” (Article 13).

    According to A.P.V. Rogers, a former Major General in the British army and an expert in the laws of war, the key to deciding whether treatment of POW’s infringes the Convention is to look at the intention of the action. Action that was intended to be “humiliating and degrading,” he said, would qualify as a breach of the Convention.
Aren't beatings and sexual abuse humiliating and degrading?
I don't care anymore whether I was right or not in that argument long ago. I'm past that point. We've essentially raped and pillaged Iraq, figuratively if not literally. The attitude of the current kids in power has been so incredibly arrogant, selfish, and self-serving. While what's going on in Iraq does not reflect the regular American citizen, I'm afraid the rest of us will now be guilty by association in the eyes of the world. What happened and is happening is horribly embarrassing and awful. The bullies in power need to go. I hope these newest revelations jar the undecideds out of their sleep.