Sunday, November 14, 2004

Victory Conditions

If you can't win without committing war crimes, maybe it's time to rethink your strategy:
Human rights experts said Friday that American soldiers might have committed a war crime on Thursday when they sent fleeing Iraqi civilians back into Fallujah.

Citing several articles of the Geneva Conventions, the experts said recognized laws of war require military forces to protect civilians as refugees and forbid returning them to a combat zone.

"This is highly problematical conduct in terms of exposing people to grave danger by returning them to an area where fighting is going on," said Jordan Paust, a law professor at the University of Houston and a former Army prosecutor.

James Ross, senior legal adviser to Human Rights Watch, said, "If that's what happened, it would be a war crime."

A stream of refugees, about 300 men, women and children, were detained by American soldiers as they left southern Fallujah by car and on foot. The women and children were allowed to proceed. The men were tested for any residues left by the handling of explosives. All tested negative, but they were sent back.
If the president, in his role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, can order the suspension of the Geneva Conventions at will, then the Conventions have no meaning. I had wondered, years back, how anyone could be opposed to the United States joining the International Criminal Court. I mean, wouldn't American behavior be above reproach? How wrong I was.

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