Third Party & Independents Archives

Best Reason for Abiding by Geneva Conventions

I ran across what has to be the best reason for following Geneva Conventions. Lately I have been hearing a lot of arguments that counter with “this is war…” or “it’s just an anomaly…” (it’s not) and even “it’s not so bad, they do worse…”. Well those arguments now have a compelling counter-argument and reasoned response.

Unlearned Hand examines it fully in "Reciprocal Torture is Not the Problem":

If an Iraqi militiaman thinks he is going to be mistreated by the coalition, or shipped off without rights to a Caribbean island for indefinite detainment, he is much less likely to surrender. Why not simply fight to the death?

The best historical example is the final assault on Germany. German POWs were treated well by American and British forces, and our forces received relatively good treatment in return. But even more importantly for present purposes, as the German regime began to crumble, Germans were willing to surrender to American and British forces. By the end of the war we had over 400,000 POWs in America (German and Italian), not to mention thousands of prisoners still in Europe.

Truly the most insightful response to the subject of "why not" that I have seen to date.

Reciprocal Torture is Not the Problem [Unlearned Hand]

Posted by Stephen VanDyke at June 16, 2004 12:42 PM