02 Jul 2006

The Constitutional Right to Terrorism

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Mark Steyn heaps plenty of well-deserved ridicule on Justice Stevens’ Hamdan ruling.

There are several ways to fight a war. On the one hand, you can put on a uniform, climb into a tank, rumble across a field and fire on the other fellows’ tank. On the other, you can find a 12-year-old girl, persuade her to try on your new suicide-bomber belt and send her waddling off into the nearest pizza parlor.

The Geneva Conventions were designed to encourage the former and discourage the latter. The thinking behind them was that, if one had to have wars, it’s best if they’re fought by soldiers and armies. In return for having a rank and serial number and dressing the part, you’ll be treated as a lawful combatant should you fall into the hands of the other side. There’ll always be a bit of skulking around in street garb among civilian populations, but the idea was to ensure that it would not be rewarded –that there would, in fact, be a downside for going that route.

The U.S. Supreme Court has now blown a hole in the animating principle behind the Geneva Conventions by choosing to elevate an enemy that disdains the laws of war in order to facilitate the bombing of civilian targets and the beheading of individuals. The argument made by Justice John Paul Stevens is an Alice-In-Jihadland ruling that stands the Conventions on their head in order to give words the precise opposite of their plain meaning and intent. The same kind of inspired jurisprudence conjuring trick that detected in the emanations of the penumbra how the Framers of the U..S Constitution cannily anticipated a need for partial-birth abortion and gay marriage has now effectively found a right to jihad — or, if you’re a female suicide bomber about to board an Israeli bus, a woman’s right to Jews.

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Comrade Ogilvy

Mark Steyn is more bibulous than usual when he states that the purpose of the Geneva Conventions was to distinguish between suicide bombers in mufti, and soldiers in uniform. Where the HELL did he get that notion? (Answer: He just made it up.) The purpose of the original Geneva Convention in 1864 was to recognize the International Red Cross and to guarantee safe passage to that and other humanitarian agencies, and to ensure minimal standards of care for wounded and prisoners.

Perhaps Steyn is foggily recalling a military traditon whereby a combatant captured in uniform is to be protected as a prisoner, while an enemy operative in civvies may be shot as a spy–or, in the case of Nathan Hale, hanged. As this example suggests, this tradition was around a long time before the first Geneva Convention.



Jimmy

Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday major policy changes are needed because the Iraq war has divided the nation “almost as much as Vietnam.”

“So there's no doubt that our country is in much more danger now from terrorism than it would have been if we would have done what we should have done and stayed in Afghanistan,” he said on the campaign trail with his son, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jack Carter.

The former president said the Bush administration made a “terrible mistake” by invading Iraq and diverting troops from Afghanistan.

Jack Carter criticized his opponent, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., for supporting the Iraq war. Both Carters also said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should go.

“I think he's one of the worst secretaries of defense we've ever had,” the former president said of Rumsfeld. “Almost every decision he has made has aggravated his military subordinates and has also proved to be a mistake.”



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