Thursday, September 14, 2006
Thus is the McCain Amendment theme reprised: The way we treat Islamic terrorists will somehow impact the way our own soldiers are treated when captured. It’s hard to imagine a more preposterous premise on which to base policy.
Our enemies don’t give a damn about the Geneva Conventions or, frankly, about the inspiring life story of Senator McCain. The life story that animates them is Mohammed’s.
Thus do they invoke, for example, the Battle of Qurazya, in which the prophet is said to have ordered hundreds of captured prisoners decapitated and interred in mass graves (while women and children were condemned to slavery). Thus, too, do they cite scriptures which instruct, for example, that “when ye meet the Unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks” (Sura 47:4); that they must “slay [their enemies] wherever ye catch them” (Sura 2:191); and that “[t]he punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger … is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides …” (Sura 5:33).
Let’s not mince words here: Our soldiers, if captured by Islamic terrorists, will be tortured and killed. That’s what Islamic terrorists do. That’s why awed admiration is the only proper response to the bravery of our men and women in uniform. They fight for us despite knowing, as we should all by now know, that nothing we do affects the jihadists’ behavior.
On the other hand, if we were to fight another conventional war against the honorable combatants of a nation-state, that country’s forces — like our own — would be solemnly bound to (as well as self-interested in) compliance with their Geneva Convention obligations regarding prisoners of war. Again, how we deal with al Qaeda now is irrelevant to the treatment our forces will receive in any future conflict.
So, no, we don’t owe jihadists the same trial rights we owe any honorable combatants, much less our own troops. The very notion is an insult to those putting their lives on the line in our defense. That aside, though, the incentives these senators would create are perverse. It is an elementary rule of human nature that when behavior is rewarded, it begets more of the same. Rewarding terrorists with rights to which they have no legal entitlement can only encourage their methods — a cost McCain, Graham, and Warner would apparently have us bear despite the absence of any discernible benefit.
I marvel that McCain still thinks he has a chance at the Presidency, which he claims he is willing to sacrifice on the issue of jihadists' rights. That's certainly prescient on his part, given the rights-stifling reality of McCain-Feingold, his role in the Gang of Fourteen, and now his naive proposition that deference to savages will somehow induce in them a sense of humanity towards captured infidels. The enemy's eye-gouging, neck-sawing barbarities will prevail, regardless of the Senator's inexplicable refusal to accept that fact.
McCain himself is a case study in how our enemies have ignored, even taken advantage of, the values he claims to be defending, so what is it he does not understand?