Thursday, 1 February 2007

3:6 The peculiar 'war' you are fighting - and its advantages.

In this task you have certain advantages. As mentioned above, your weapons, conventional, nuclear, chemical and biological are infinitely more powerful than theirs. And you have plenty of spare capacity at this time as you have most of the arms manufacturers in the world living in your states. Your science and technology is ever getting stronger and you can fight at night and with deadly force. You have immense wealth behind you in a way which your enemies cannot begin to match. Clearly it is not a war in the old sense of two roughly equally armed, trained and sized armies facing each other. Clearly you can flatten them.

Furthermore, you have your friends. In each part of the world you have client states which depend on your military and economic support. They will do what you tell them and help us attack whom you like. At present these include clients in the Middle East, the Far East, the Pacific and other dangerous areas. Preserve and foster these alliances in this noble struggle.

It is essential to remember that this war is different from all preceding wars. It is an extremely clever device of yours to call it a ‘war’ with all the powerful resonances of that word, but you know how different it is. In fact, technically, of course, it is not a war at all.

Wars begin with a particular declaration of war, yet this one had been dribbling along well before 9/11. Wars end on a certain date, with a treaty, agreement, unconditional surrender or whatever. Yet nothing like this is possible since the nest of vipers you are facing has no over-all leader or director (except Satan, who will never sign a peace treaty). Wars are between sovereign states, but this is between some States and an amorphous organization, even if, occasionally it involves you in attacking and destroying a sovereign state or two along the way.

Combatants in wars are ‘soldiers’, they are paid, have uniforms, can be recognized and when captured are ‘prisoners of war’. The combatants on your side, of course, are such soldiers and should be treated according to the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war by the other side. For example, they should not be disgustingly paraded in front of cameras, or tortured or whatever. On the other hand, combatants on their side are treasonable terrorists who do not wear uniforms, often are unpaid, and hence not subject to the Geneva Convention. They can be paraded in front of cameras, tortured, or held for ever if you like.

There is a dangerous argument that the Geneva Convention provides not just for “soldiers”, but also for civilians (who should get a fair trial). So, some people argue that, even if one were to agree with those who argue that “terrorists” are not regular, uniformed and recognisable soldiers, then surely they should be considered “civilians” (say, criminals who tried or managed to kill people –and thus should be apprehended by the police and judged in civil courts).

The trick is to play on the ambiguity of whether there is a war or not. For general purposes, this is a war you are fighting. Yet the people you oppose are not ‘soldiers’ in the conventional sense. They are not ‘civilians’ because it is a war. They are not ‘soldiers’ because they are not regularly employed by a state, wearing uniform etc. So they are not subject to any convention and can be treated like wild things which lie outside the human world, kept in an interstitial legal no-man’s land in cages for eternity without trial.

So, to summarize the situation, the wars of the conventional kind which your populations were aware of from the previous few centuries were fought between two roughly equal sides, who wore uniforms, fought for a period, and then, when one side, as in a game, was declared to have won, the losing side laid down their arms and surrendered a few days, months or years later. Civilians were not be involved if possible. This is what people think of as war, and for it, in the past, they have been prepared to surrender for a while their lives, their liberties, their happiness and even truth itself, knowing that all these things will be returned after the emergency.

1 comment:

Gabriel Andrade said...

A democratic country would not engage in a "tu quoque" response. Even if terrorists violate Geneva conventions, American armies are not entitle to violate them. Otherwise, what would be the difference between both parties? You can not erradicate "terrorism" by engaging in terrorist parctices yourself.