Thursday, October 20, 2005

It’s Geneva Conventions Time !


CNN – and any newsreader who can find a microphone and camera – is about to have a cow !


Oooh ! Ooooh !! Oooooh !!! (Newsreader looks shocked ) The Geneva Conventions have been violated (newsreader looks stern)
by American Troops - (newsreader frowns) In Afghanistan !!!


(Newsreader bites lip,pretends to look reluctant.) Let’s go to the video ! (Studio camera catches newsreader’s triumphant smile just before tape begins.)


Let’s see what all the fuss – and newsroom joy – is about , okay ?


On October 1st, troops who were part of a psychological warfare unit – attached to the US Army 173rd Airborne Brigade- moved the bodies of two dead terrorists ( the media persists in calling them “Taliban fighters”) into the hills ouside the village of Gonbaz- near the old Taliban stronghold at Kandahar.


Instead of wrapping the bodies in white linen and interring them with proper Muslim ceremony, the troops laid the bodies down – facing Mecca ( a big no-no !) ,doused them with fuel, and burned them,


Adding insult to injury, the troops then broadcast the following message in the local dialect , using loudspeakers:


“Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs ! You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies.”


(You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that the whole point of the exercise was to enrage the Taliban so much they would leave the safety of their hideouts and come storming into a carefully-laid ambush-thereby reducing the threat of Taliban terrorism for some time to come.Alas ! Such an outcome was not to be .)



An Australian free-lance reporter – Stephen Dupont – was shocked at this egregious violation of the Geneva Conventions, and had his camera crew record the burning bodies, and the watching American troops. He then filed an indignant report : American Misconduct in Afghanistan ! Geneva Conventions flouted !! Film at eleven !!!


Was the burning of the bodies a violation of the Geneva Conventions ?
Probably – and the Army is treating the matter as a crime : sending out CID teams , dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” – something the Army’s Rear Echelon ….persons are exceptionally good at.


The media,of course, is treating this incident as a “new Abu Ghraib” scandal , with which they hope to attack the Administration – especially the much-despised Donald Rumsfield , Secretary of Defense,and bane of reporters–who–ask–really–dumb–questions–during–press conferences.


Shouldn’t we be all distressed and agog ? Stammering with shame and confusion ? We are talking about the sacred, inviolable Geneva Conventions, are we not ?


Truth be known , this series of international treaties on the rules of “civilized warfare” –enacted between 1864 and 1949- has never been much more than words on paper,and long lists of arcane rules : almost none of which have any relationship to the realities of modern warfare.


One must , for example , never sharpen the edge of one’s bayonet – only the tip – but it’s okay to carry a sharp knife or machete, or to hone the edge of one’s entrenching shovel: thereby turning a tool into a weapon.


Rifle,pistol, and machinegun ammunition must be fully jacketed , to reduce the likelihood bullets will expand upon impact with human flesh-
but Russian and Chinese troops are equipped with the new AK-74 : which fires bullets made with a hollow tip under the metal jacket,so they will penetrate deeply and expand rapidly. ( Have you heard anyone protest – or even mention this wholesale violation ?)


In World War I, both the Germans and the “Allies” used poison gas against each other. In World War II, all parties involved engaged in the bombing of civilian targets. The Japanese experimented with biowarfare agents on helpless prisoners. We experimented with the non-peaceful use of atomic energy on the Japanese – and so it goes.


Now we are engaged in a war against terrorists- (Ooops ! We’re supposed to call them “Heroic Freedom Fighters” !!) – whose only interest in the Geneva Conventions arises when they are captured.


These are folks who murder children for daring to go to school,who beat and exploit women, who bomb their own countrymen because they follow a different version of Islam, who kidnap and behead people who have come to help their country rebuild, who murder and terrorize all they come into contact with.


It’s nice-I suppose-if we follow the Geneva Conventions while fighting them ; but I hope you will pardon my total indifference to violations –no matter how egregious – of their burial customs.

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