Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Trouble With Unilateralism

Look, we all know that Republicans like to talk about following the rules while unabashedly breaking them, but it seems to me that they don’t even understand why rules exist in the first place.

The latest example is the addition of a “death row” at Camp Delta, the place where hundreds of prisoners from the Afghan war are being held. Why this kind of thing should scare everyone is that, as they have been since the inception of the camp, the Bush Administration is denying those prisoners their basic rights under the Geneva Conventions. Those prisoners are, no matter what the Bushies want to call them, clearly prisoners of war, as argued perfectly by Human Rights Watch here.

What the Chickenhawk Republicans in the administration fail to appreciate – perhaps because they have dedicated themselves to allowing others to fight in their stead – is that soldiers know that there are reasons for the rules of war. By refusing to meet the standard of the Geneva Conventions, the Bush Administration is acting in a manner which is no better than that of the NVA soldiers who broke John McCain’s arms repeatedly or the Japanese soldiers who bayoneted sick men on the roads of Bataan. By refusing to honor the requirements of a decent nation, the executive branch is making it much more likely that our own soldiers will meet with indecent treatment at the hands of future enemies.

The Bush Administration seems to believe that they have the right to demand that the rest of the world meet a certain standard of conduct. I still cannot comprehend where they feel that moral authority comes from when they fail to meet even this minimum standard of decency that the entire world agreed upon so long ago.


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