The Jaker

Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.

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Monday, September 25, 2006
War is harder when you're an asshole to your prisoners
Paul Reickhoff, former Army platoon leader and Amherst student-body prez, in a NYTimes op/ed, makes the following point about the implications of U.S. torture.

[In Army officer basic training school] I remember a seasoned senior officer explaining the importance of the Geneva Conventions. He said, “When an enemy fighter knows he’ll be treated well by United States forces if he is captured, he is more likely to give up.”

A year later on the streets of Baghdad, I saw countless insurgents surrender when faced with the prospect of a hot meal, a pack of cigarettes and air-conditioning. America’s moral integrity was the single most important weapon my platoon had on the streets of Iraq. It saved innumerable lives, encouraged cooperation with our allies and deterred Iraqis from joining the growing insurgency.

But those days are over. America’s moral standing has eroded, thanks to its flawed rationale for war and scandals like Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and Haditha. The last thing we can afford now is to leave Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions open to reinterpretation, as President Bush proposed to do and can still do under the compromise bill that emerged last week.
posted by CB @ 4:46 PM  
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