His article is well-written and thorough, using the Third Geneva Convention and its rules regarding the interrogation of POWs as the basis for his assertions. In the article, Butler accuses the Bush Administration of "gross attempts to institutionalize torture." In addition to being well-written, the article is also gravely out of step with the times.
Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention states:
"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."In a war between two legitimate nations, each with a well-organized and identifiable military, this is an acceptable practice. Unfortunately, such is not the case in the war being waged against the free world by Islamic fundamentalists.
In Article Four of the Third Geneva Convention, "Prisoner of War" status is defined as follows:
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:Simply put, the above stipulates that to qualify as a prisoner of war and be guaranteed rights under the Geneva Convention, one must be either:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:[
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.
(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
- A member of a uniformed military representing a nation or state,
- a volunteer working with said military – and with proper identifying documents,
- or one who spontaneously takes up arms against an invading military and carries weapons openly in accordance with the customs of war.
In his article, Butler discusses the fact that he faced horrific treatment at the hands of the North Vietnamese. I am awed that he could retain his sanity under such conditions. But while I have tremendous respect for him, his views on the Bush Administration's policies regarding captured terrorists are flawed.
He bases his assertions (that Bush and Company should be prosecuted) on his loyalty to the Constitution and the pain he suffered at the hands of the Viet Cong. What he has failed to think about is the fact that the Vietnam War was different in several key ways from the war on Islamic terrorism.
Like Islamic terrorists, the Viet Cong had no honor. Their capacity for cruelty knew no limits. They were completely comfortable with the idea of slaughtering their fellow countrymen in the name of their cause. But the Viet Cong were not interested in world conquest. There was never any chance of a Viet Cong soldier showing up on American or European soil with a bag of explosives.
Honorable military units struggle to avoid civilian casualties in Muslim nations. All the while suicide bombers gleefully detonate their bomb vests and truck bombs in heavily populated areas with the goal of killing innocent women and children. In Gaza, Hamas has stated publicly that they will rearm even after Israel agreed to end their retaliatory strike. And you can bet that Hamas will continue to launch their missile attacks from civilian areas, specifically so Israeli counterattacks will harm civilians in Gaza.
Terrorists streamed into Iraq to fight Coalition forces even after the Iraqi people voted in a democratic government to replace the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein. Iran and Syria continue to fund and arm Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Around the world, the influence of Islamic Fundamentalism continues to build a vulgar legacy of death, destruction and denial of basic human rights. And all the while, they call Islam the Religion of Peace.
The simple unpleasant truth is that Islam will continue to compromise the safety and even the cultures of free nations until sufficiently drastic measures are taken to stop them. While it sickens me to say it or even think it, there is only one way to stop the spread of Islamic Fundamentalism and the destruction it brings: Civilized nations must be willing to be as ruthless as our enemies.
George Bush had the right idea. Shock them. Water-board them. Do whatever it takes, but wring what information we can from them and then stuff them back in their cells. And then use that information as a tool in the War on Terror. How unfortunate that our new President fails to recognize that Gitmo has been a rousing success.
Radical Islamics see humane treatment and diplomacy as signs of weakness. We have tried diplomacy. We have acted with tolerance. We have shown compassion. We have extended the hand of friendship to our Muslim brethren and we have seen that hand chewed away by the mad dogs who crashed commercial jets into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
George W. Bush was not a great President, and to be honest I'm glad he's done. But he was absolutely right to use harsh treatment against captured terrorists. It's the only thing they understand.
The world is changing. Phillip Butler and others like him need to pull their heads out of the sand and understand just how evil the enemies of freedom have become. We cannot, dare not, continue to treat Muslim extremists humanely. Until they are made to feel a level of fear that outweighs their lust for barbarism, we have no choice but to be worse barbarians than they are. The survival of the free world depends upon it.
Either we kill them, or they kill us. Pick one.