Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:06 am Post subject: Irregular Fighters, Unlawful Combatants
From the thread on Khadr:
In the meantime, I believe they should be treated as prisoners of war rather than civilians since clearly their intent is to fight allied forces.
No, they should be treated as unlawful combatants.
This is an issue that Western World could very well be facing for decades to come, and I think it might be valuable to move from the specific (Khadr) to the general for a broader discussion.
As it stands, I would argue that Al-Qaeda and similar organizations are unlawful combatants under the Geneva Conventions as written. However, I do not believe that this is to our advantage - unlawful combatants are expected to be tried and sentenced for war crimes, while hostilies are ongoing. It is expensive, creates a media circus, and has opened the door to activist lawyers and judges attempting to fuse matters of criminal justice with matters of national defense.
POWs on the other hand, while entitled to a few more protections while incarcerated, can be held until the cessation of hostilities, and then released. Beyond the basic determination of whether or not they were combatants, there is no need for trials and the other issues we currently have (unless they committed war crimes not involving attacks on military forces). So I think I agree with Mac in his argument that the GCs need to be updated to better define un-uniformed combatants.
This approach is not without problems, however. For instance, how do we define an end of hostilities - and if we have several thousand POWs and release them at this uncertain point, will that result in a return to war? How do we seperate the irregular fighters from the terrorists, and is it possible or desirable to do so?
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Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:21 pm Post subject:
The US has not Constitutionaly declared war and so we cannot follow the rules a true war would follow. We should not be engaged in this conflict and not having to deal with prisoners. Let them kill each other, they are really good at it.
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