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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Enemy Combatants?

I see a fundamental issue with labeling people "enemy combatants". The phrase implies a state of declared, definable war where we know who is or is not our enemy. The problem with our current situation is our "enemies" have only one thing in common ... they are Muslim. Islam is a religion, not a country. There is no definitive territory from which Muslim's come, no military bases flying a recognized Muslim flag, nothing upon which to declare an absolute target of action.

Labeling those who commit crimes like the attacks on New York and Boston as "enemy combatants" clouds the issue, leading us to argue over how they should be handled. Do we treat them as common criminals, in which case they have rights under our civilian legal system, or do we treat them as prisoners of war, in which case they have rights under the Geneva Convention?

A third possibility does exist: accept them as prisoners of war who, due to their deliberate targeting of non-combatant, civilian populations and targets, are war criminals, subject to military tribunal and trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This does, of course, require us to hold our soldiers and leadership to the same standard, hence my opposition to the continued use of "drone strikes" in countries against whom we have no declaration of war, yet continually commit military strikes within their territories, often killing nothing but non-combatant, civilian "targets".

Start thinking people, we already have established rules of law to handle people like this. Let's start using them the way they were designed and honoring them ourselves, otherwise we have no right to call ourselves a "civilized" nation.

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