Is Saddam Cautious?


The fact that Saddam Hussein so far has refrained from using chemical or biological weapons undermines one of the arguments against this war: that an invasion was the most likely scenario in which Iraq would unleash them. At the same time, speculation about why Saddam is holding back credits him with more caution and rationality than did the hawks who argued that we couldn't count on deterrence. One such hawk, Clinton administration Iraq expert Kenneth M. Pollack, now tells The Washington Times: "Saddam seems to understand that the worst thing he could possibly do is take any action that would hand the high ground to the United States." The Times elaborates:

With an eye clearly on global opinion, the Iraqi military has already passed up an opportunity to use its weapons of mass destruction against massed and vulnerable U.S. and British forces in Kuwait or against coalition forces rapidly advancing on Baghdad and strategic targets throughout the country….

Virtually all experts predict Saddam plans a last-ditch stand in Baghdad and its environs, hoping the urban street fighting will inflict enough casualties and produce enough bloody images on global television screens that the United States will sue for peace. A chemical- or germ-warfare strike does not help that scenario.

If the Iraqi regime is capable of such cool calculation even amid the chaos of an invasion, why were the advocates of war so quick to dismiss the idea that Saddam's survival instinct would prevent him from using weapons of mass destruction? And if the explanation for Saddam's apparent restraint is that Iraq no longer has a substantial WMD capability, that would hurt the case for war even more.

Of course, it would be hard to understand Iraq's foot dragging with the U.N. weapons inspectors if Saddam didn't have something to hide. Then, too, the failure to fully cooperate certainly looks reckless, given the consequences, but perhaps Saddam believed that war was a foregone conclusion.


NEXT: Peace, Love, and Trivial Prizes

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  1. Screw the NCAA brackets. I’m moving my money to this March Madness.

  2. Jon; you seem to be garnering the big picture.

    Parent U.S.A., “Do as I say, not as I do”

  3. Jon Juzlak,

    The double-standard is of course amazing. Of course the good, righteous, all benevolent, far-seeing, and otherwise just Americans would never violate the Geneva Convention. *wink* *wink*

    BTW, the Fourth Geneva Convention, signed in 1948 as I recall, mandates that an occupier may not force a occupied nation to adopt a particular type of government. That means the US, Uk & Australia may not force Iraq to become a represenative democracy. In fact, what the US, etc. may do in Iraq is fairly circumsribed by the Fourth Geneva Convention in a whole number of ways (like one cannot shut off the mails indiscriminately according to Article 25). Why may one ask does it have such provisions? To prevent a repeat of what the Germans, Japanese, and Italians did when they occupied countries prior to and during WWII.

    Article 49:

    Forbids mass deportations or transfers; though the occupier may evacuate unsafe areas temporarily.

    Article 50:

    Gotta keep the schools open; and if they are inadequate, you must improve them.

    Article 51:

    Cannot compel enlistment in occupier’s armed forces, etc., and may not compel anyone under eighteen to work.

    Article 53:

    No destruction of private property allowed unless “absolutely neccessary.”

    Article 54:

    May not alter the status of public officials or judges “or in any way apply sanctions to or take any measures of coercion or discrimination against them, should they abstain from fulfilling their functions for reasons of conscience.” Under Article 51 they can remove these folks, but if they keep them in power, the occupier cannot make them theur lackeys.

    For more, see here:

  4. Jon et al:

    While we’re quoting the Genevea Convention here…

    “On the qualifiations of belligerents

    Article 1. The laws, rights and duties of war apply not only to armies but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following conditions:

    1. To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
    2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
    3. To carry arms openly; and
    4. To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.”

    Now as far as Al Qeada goes, 1 probably applies, 4 is of course, vague as hell, but it’s pretty hard to argue that they meet conditions 2 and 3. Therefore, a reasonable arguement could be made that the Geneva Convention doesn’t really apply to them. (This doesn’t neccessarily mean that indefinite detainment is _right_, but “right” and “lawful” are often two very separate issues.)

    Furthermore, I don’t see how you can equate news coverage of Iraqi units surrendering en masse with singling out individual POWs and having them state their names, hometowns, etc. The former is a matter of war coverage, the latter is clearly a matter of humiliation, (which violates the Geneva Convention stipulation for humane treatment of POWs.)

    Is this to say that American conduct in war is blameless with regard to the GC? Probably not. But the examples you’ve cited don’t really reinforce your assertion of a double standard.

  5. yeah double standards all right…

    we lock up scumbags in Cuba BUT LET THEM LIVE

    we treat legit Iraqi POWs HUMANELY

    they blow off the skulls of captured US troops —
    look at the pics…yeah gunshot wounds in the exact center of the forehead…fucking no way in combat a solider can make that shot, much less an Iraqi conscript.

    our POWs were executed and assholes like Gary whine about “double-standards.”

  6. It’s my understanding that Saddam plans not just large-scale urban warfare in Baghdad, but to have France and Russia negotiate a truce once we (supposedly) become bogged down there.

    France has stated that they will fully back the US invasion if WMD are used in the conflict. So using WMD now would obviate Saddam’s plans (if my characterization is accurate – and I believe it is).

    Saddam’s decision not to use WMD yet makes sense in this context

  7. Gary Gunnels:

    It’s difficult for me to write this, because I can’t stop laughing. But let me take a shot here.

    You write:

    “BTW, the Fourth Geneva Convention, signed in 1948 as I recall, mandates that an occupier may not force a occupied nation to adopt a particular type of government. That means the US, Uk & Australia may not force Iraq to become a represenative democracy.”

    Ok, Gary, then how do we (or any occupying army) set up a government? Do we hold a lottery – you know, put little pieces of paper with types of government written on them into a hat (“representative republic”, “theocratic fiefdom”, “narco-Stalinist state”)?

    Maybe we could hold an essay contest – have every Iraqi pen 250 words on what kind of government Iraq should have. Er, well, nope, that wouldn’t work because that’s sorta like democracy. Somebody would have to, you know, judge – and that’s too autocratic.

    So I guess, since we can’t decide what kind of government they shall have, we’ll deliberate and carefully put no governing instruments in place, and just abandon them and let them fight it out amongst themselves. Because, ya know, civil war is so much more humane than helping them create democracy.

  8. There’s something hypocritical about a nation launching a pre-emptive, arguably unprovoked war with no international backing, and then complaining that the other side isn’t following the rules. Especially when we’ve shown ourselves to be rather disdainful of international treaties.

    Which by no means excuses Iraq from treating our POWs humanely. It’s just that we’re hardly in a position to reach for the high moral ground.

    As for Saddam not unleashing his WMD yet, I think a good case can be made that he’s holding them off until later in the battle. But I think a good case could also be made that he doesn’t have them — or doesn’t have them in any usable shape. And if that’s true, it makes you wonder whether we needed to fight this war right now.

  9. No international backing huh? Right Patriot, we’re out there all by ourselves. Now go take your Ritalin and sit down.

  10. Please re-read what I said about Guantanomo Bay — I asked if keeping Taliban prisoners violated the Geneva convention. Al Qaeda, as an irregular terrorist organization, is not entitled to Geneva Convention protection. But the Taliban certainly is entitled.

    The pictures I’ve seen of Iraqi soldiers showed their faces, showed them being searched thoroughly and the like. No, its not as humilating as having to say their name and serial number on television, but it certainly seems pretty humilating to me. Now there’s no doubt that American treatment of Iraqi prisoners has been pretty humane, but bear in mind that the Iraqis have suffered massive casualties and the US has not. If the US suffered these type of casualties, believe me that you’d see a lot more summary executions by soldiers in the heat of the moment after a bloody fight.

    No one of which is to argue that Saddam does not have a horrendous human rights record even to his own people. And that his treatment of past POws (especially Iranian POWs) was terrible. And that he’s likely to be equally cruel towards these prisoners if the end comes for my him.

    My point was simply the video by itself does not violate the Geneva convention more than anything the US has done.

  11. Stretch Cannonbury,

    Ask an expert on the issue. I didn’t write the thing.

  12. “we lock up scumbags in Cuba BUT LET THEM LIVE’

    That certainly violates the Geneva convention. Fine if you don’t care about it, but don’t invoke it when it suits you. For the record, there have been plenty of humilating videos of the Cuba scumbags.

    “they blow off the skulls of captured US troops —
    look at the pics…yeah gunshot wounds in the exact center of the forehead…fucking no way in combat a solider can make that shot, much less an Iraqi conscript. ”

    I’ve looked at the pics, and I don’t see that. I f the Pentagon had proof of that, you can bet they would be presenting it. It would be consistent with Iraqi brutality, but there’s no clear evidence of it.

    I think what Americans don’t like is that Americans were killed or that some are being held POW by a brutal regume. I don’t like it at all either — but its not a violation of the GEneva convention by itself. War is brutal and messy, not the antiseptic low casualty victory we saw in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

  13. Bill: Aside from Britain, yes, we’re pretty much out there by ourselves. The rest of the “coalition of the willing” doesn’t seem to be too damned willing to actually send troops. Besides, a couple of allies does not constitute “international backing,” except in the most tortured sense of the phrase. It constitutes … well, a couple of allies.

  14. As far as the Geneva Convention is concerned many people seem to forget that it pertains to government actions.
    The Iraqi GOVERNMENT set up the TV of our soldiers. Pictures of Iraqi soldiers surrendering have been taken by the free press.
    One action is a deliberate GOVERNMENT action the other is not.
    The US is not “parading” or humiliating people FOR the cameras. The US cannot prevent the free press from taking pictures however. Yes, the US does get “propaganda” benefits from the pictures of surrendering Iraqis. However, all our government does is NOT censor the footage. It doesn’t create it.

  15. jg,

    The US military could limit access if such pictures are humiliating, etc. Your logic is sort of tortured, since its the military which controls the context in which they are shown.

  16. We’ve gone off the topic of Jacom Sullum’s point a bit.

    No hawk I read said that Saddam would use WMD OPENLY. The argument for invading Iraq was based on the possibility that Saddam would use WMD against the US COVERTLY.

    And I have not yet seen a convincing argument that we can deter the COVERT use of WMD.

    If you say we can deter Saddam from handing of WMD to terrorists to use against the US, you are saying that the United States would retaliate, in cold blood, against Saddam, possibly weeks or months later after we figure out he was responsible.

    For those who say this, what standard of proof would you accept to justify US retaliation? None? I thought so.

    Of course he’s not using it NOW. Everyone would know he was responsible. He may wait until he has nothing else left–in which case, better he use them on soldiers equipped and prepared for it than innocent civilians in Tel Aviv or New York.

  17. The embedded journalists are operating under American/British rules. Very strict rules, I might add. There are lots of stuff that they are forbidden to broadcast, or that they can broadcast only much later. You can make a very good argument that they are not a free press by any means, but they are operating as a quasi-official military unit. The military could most certainly impose a rule on them to stop them from using footage of Iraqis surrendering.

    In fact, the notion that the army cannot censor the press is laughable when you consider that the army did make such a furious attempt to censor the pictures of American POWs.

  18. On this topic — there were a number of reports yesterday that 1-2 chemical weapons plants had been found, that a general and 30 soldiers had been captured around one plant, that another general had been captured.

    Today — there is no reference to this on the news websites that I see. There are 3 possibilities that I can think of

    1) There weren’t actually banned chemical weapons in the plant. There may have been regular chemicals used for weapons such as explosives and
    bombs. I remember seeing one news ticker that 2 general officers, not 2 generals had been captured, so there may have been some backpedalling. We’ve seen lots of Pentagon reports that are doubtful.

    2) The plant is still being analyzed for chemical weapons (there was one news report that there were no actual weapons there, but there may have been a manufacturing plant) and it will take a while for results to get out. [ But that has never stopped news organizations from commenting]

    3) There were indeed chemical weapon stocks in the plant, the proverbial smoking gun. The US is keeping quiet about it though, in its complicated cat and mouse game with Saddam, it doesn’t want Saddam to know that its found the chemicals, since that may make him decide not to hide any more and use his chemical weapons. [ Saddam must know the plants been taken, but until the US starts showing it to outside journalists, he might still want to win the propoganda war]

    I would guess its either 1 or 3. If its 1, I might have expected a brief rebuttal on some news site, but I haven’t seen it. So it might be 3.

  19. RE: Brian’s Article One Post

    This was discussed briefly tonight by
    Chris Matthews and an “expert”.

    Briefly… because it’s a black and white,
    cut and dried no brainer.

    Neither Iraqi irregulars in civilian clothes nor Al Qaeda terrorists pass Parts #2 and #3…

    The Geneva convention DOES NOT apply to them.
    They are viewed as “guerillas” and under typical
    rules of engagement… are summarily executed.

    Any humane treatment extended by the US military
    to such fighters is entirely a freebie…

    And, of course, the Fifth Column stooges among us
    paint the historic benevolence of Guantanamo Bay and some sort of crime…

  20. “Saddam seems to understand that the worst thing he could possibly do is take any action that would hand the high ground to the United States.”

    Ya mean like interrogate, torture and kill captured Coalition soldiers?

  21. according to die presse and der standard (AUT), iraq still may have these weapons to unleash against the US and UK when they approach baghdad, but the presence of such weapons is justifiable because SH needs to be able to defend himself against the anglo-agressors. so there.

    so we have people on both sides trying to explain the lack (thus far and hopefully for the duration) of ABC weapons used…


  22. I’m not sure the lack of WMD use thusfar is indicative of restraint on Saddam’s part; it seems more likely that either 1) WMD deployment capabilities have been damaged by coalition bombing, 2) orders have been given, but not followed by Iraqi generals who intend to survive this conflict, or 3) they are being held in reserve for a really nasty battle for Baghdad.

    Obviously, I’d hope for 1 or 2, but 3 seems most likely. As Paul pointed out, Saddam doesn’t seem too concerned about the “high ground” if the treatment of coalition POW’s is any indicator.

    This is going to get a lot uglier before it’s over, I’m afraid.

  23. Lets see if I understand this — its perfectly all right for the US to show images of Iraqi soldiers surrendering and to keep Taliban prisoners indefinitely in Al Qaeda.

    But broadcast of pictures of American POws violates the GEneva convention ….

  24. There you go again, being biased by being unbiased.

  25. I’m sorry, Gary, it won’t wash. You keep harping on the fact that the free press is showing brief shots of Iraqi captives, while ignoring that it was Iraqi TV, an apparatus of Saddam’s government, iterrogating our POWs publicly. You are also ignoring that Iraq had tortured and raped some of our POWs in 1991 in violation of the Geneva conventions. You ARE claiming moral equivalence. It is as puerile as it is disgusting. Quit wasting our time.

  26. Gary,

    It seems that you are going to rather great lengths to find the US in violation of the GC, while the Iraqis’ and certainly Al Qeada’s violations are well-documented and indisputable.

    I never bothered to read the text of the Geneva Conventions until this discsussion began yesterday. My impression of it is that much of it (much like the US Constitution, the UN charter, etc.) is worded in fairly vague language: “public curiosity”, for example. I am no legal scholar, but I know that much of scholarly debate on issues like these frequently comes down to the interpretation of single words or phrases (another example: what is meant by “militia” in the 2nd ammendment.)

    Thus, scholarly commentary on the interpretation of this statute would be helpful, as you’ve pointed out. However, I would imagine that the “experts” could produce a variety of opinions as broad as those found on this forum; therefore, at this point, I am content to think for myself, rather than searching for the commentary that would reinforce what I think anyway.

    That said, I think the correspondence between the “rules of war” and the reality of war is pretty tenuous. The GC seems to provide guidelines for reasonably humane conduct in the context of a brutal enterprise; however, I think that if one is setting out to find shortcomings in a nation’s military conduct with regard to the GC, the wording of the GC is sufficiently broad and open to interpretation that such a shortcoming can almost certainly be found. Kind of like the US tax code.

    I think many well-reasoned arguments against US action in Iraq have been made. (I’ve tried to make them myself.) However, I don’t think that finding US conduct in violation of a particular interpretation of the GC really undermines US action in this case, given that any reasonable observer would note that US treatment of POWs and enemy combatants is, generally speaking, exemplary…especially when compared to that of our enemies.

  27. The stupidity of the moral equivalence arguments here is really shocking, even for a web board. There is no point in refuting them. They are obviously nonsensical to any thinking person.

    Secondly, I think that the reason that we haven’t seen chemical weapons used yet is because they want to make sure that they have a mass of troops to fire them into. By pulling all of their forces back to Baghdad, it allows them to slow the US forces and force them to mass in the one spot where the Iraqis knew the US was going to have to go.

  28. Gabriel Hanna,

    I haven’t ignored the aforementioned facts. I simply haven’t paraded them about whilst wrapping myself in an American flag.

  29. Brian,

    Great lengths? I spent fifteen minutes googling. Jeez man, this convention isn’t hard in comparison to the statutes that I am used to dealing with (like the internal revenue code and the clean air act). And I am not looking for scholarly commentary, I am looking for the comments of the framers’ of the document.

    Did I say that it undermined it? No. That is your assumption. I would suggest that – just like Gabriel – you be careful in what you assume. You make a whole series of deductions and conclusions based largely on the memes that are floating about in your head, and not on the evidence at hand.

    My entire purpose is to point out the US hypocrisy in this matter. Whether they treat Iraqi POWs better than vice versa really doesn’t speak to that point. In fact, its largely a non-issue. Also, I think what you are telling me is that two wrongs make a right. Which is another logical fallacy I’ve spotted today.

  30. In fact, several of the photos of POWs surrendering were from British and American military videos, and given that the embedded journalists already operate under severe rules, it would be pretty easy for the military to restrict access to the POWs if they were so minded.

    The issue for me is not moral equivalence, since Saddam is obviously a very brutal thug. The issue is whether its unbelievably hypocritical for Rumsfield to get all hot and bothered about a violation of the Geneva Convention by the Iraqis, when he was the one to push for such a violation of the Guantanomo Bay Taliban.

  31. Morons,

    The moral equivalence you are making is between showing prisoners being taken on TV, and putting a camera in their face and questioning them on TV. They are not the same thing.

    Please try not to be so stupid.

  32. Gary,

    The “great lengths” to which I referred were your rhetorical backflips…not your research.

    Nor was I arguing that the language of the GC is “hard”, but vague, broad, and open to some interpretation. Who’s making assumptions now?

    But back to the point…

    You (and Jon) seem to be arguing that Rumsfeld’s outrage over the treatment of American POWs consititutes hypocracy in light of American treatment of Iraqi and/or Taliban POWs. My contention is that this would only be hypocritcal if the POW (mis)treatments were comparable…and for reasons that have been pointed out by both myself and others, I don’t believe this to be the case.

    I have greatly enjoyed the spirited debate, though…


  33. “The moral equivalence you are making is between showing prisoners being taken on TV, and putting a camera in their face and questioning them on TV. They are not the same thing.

    Please try not to be so stupid.”

    You could benefit from your own advice.

    I’ve seen the photos of Iraq prisoners. Its not just photos of prisoners being taken. Its photos of their having guns pointed at them, their being frisked rather throughly, being forced to lie down and so forth. If that had happened to Americans, you can bet that people would have said that it consituted humilating treatment. In fact, its clear that it does.

  34. Anonymous Moron,

    Those things are consistent with what I said they were – prisoners being taken. They are far different from *intentionally* humiliating prisoners on camera for propaganda purposes.

    Since you are an imbecile, it does no good to explain this to you, however. I say it only so that other people of intelligence may see my post and take heart that not everyone is as morally and intellectually obtuse as you.

  35. Gabriel Hanna,

    Might I ask you to keep your psycho-babble to yourself? Yes, I am the “Great Satan” for disagreeing with US foreign policy. Because of course US foreign policy is inherently “moral,” and therefore anyone who might disagree with it is of course “immoral.” Give me a fucking break.

    Pointing out American hypocrisy on the issue of POWS does not create an argument for moral equivalency, BTW. It simply points to American hypocrisy. You are making quite a leap in assuming that by pointing out one that I neccessarily am arguing for the other.

    “Does Gary Gunnels think that not signing Kyoto puts the US on the same plane as Iraq inhabits?”

    Isn’t this an example of a “straw man?”

    Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of the international criminal court, not the Kyoto treaty, the latter which I do not favor. Though again I did not argue – explicitly or impliedly – that there was a moral equivalence between the two. That was your leap of imagination, not mine.

  36. Article 13

    Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

    Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

    Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

  37. GG–

    With which part of Article 13 do you propose the US is not complying with regard to the Iraqis?

  38. fifth column? are those the guys eating freedom fries?

    seriously, i too am interested to see what happens post-initial combat with the whole WMD thing (in terms of discovery, not actual use, i hope). if nothing’s found, then what?

  39. “Briefly… because it’s a black and white,
    cut and dried no brainer.”

    The no brainer part seems accurate anyway.

    “Neither Iraqi irregulars in civilian clothes nor Al Qaeda terrorists pass Parts #2 and #3…

    The Geneva convention DOES NOT apply to them.”

    Very good. Now tell me about Taliban regulars and Iraqi Army regulars. How come Taliban regulars are not protected by the Geneva convention ? How s the US holding them indefinitely ?

    The question is not of Iraqi irregulars and Al Qaeda operatives but of Iraqi regulars and Taliban regulars.

  40. Brian,

    Well, Article 13 clearly says that POWs will be protected “against against insults and public curiosity.” It is not a far stretch to see the media coverage of Iraqi POWs as being a form of “public curiosity.” In my mind I would assume that the phrase in fact means, “Don’t use POWs for the purpose of propaganda.” Given the past use of POWs for such purpose, it does not on its face seem like an unreseaonable intepretation. However, I would like to see what the framers of this particular portion of the Article 13 meant before I make a final conclusion. I’ve done a little googling to see if such commentary exists (in the realm of US statutory interpretation one could look to committee reports, the transcripts of hearings, etc.) for the Genava Convention, but haven’t turned up anything. Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

  41. gzt,

    Since when did the US start caring about international treaties, or what international governing bodies think?

  42. Gary Gunnels’ comment shows such a complete ignorance of even recent history that it is hard to know where to start.

    Like any nation, we sign treaties that we think are in our interest and we don’t sign the ones that we think aren’t. There are dozens of international treaties that we have signed and adhere to. Such as the Geneva conventions. Many of them are written about right here in Reason.

    Still though, is a stupid idea less stupid simply because a whole bunch of countries sign on to it (I’m thinking of Kyoto and ICC here)?

    Does Gary Gunnels think that not signing Kyoto puts the US on the same plane as Iraq inhabits?

    This is moral equivalence of the “cosmetics = burkhas” variety.

    Iraq has executed at least some of our POWs, unquestionably tortured and raped some in the first Gulf War, and is still holding Kuwaitis and possibly one US pilot from then..

    And we just released some of the Afghans from Guantanamo Bay; and kept them in much better conditions than they would have been subjected to in Afghanistan.

    Not to mention much better conditions than they deserve.

    But people like Gary Gunnels don’t really have any sense of morality, other than “America = bad”.

  43. Brian,

    What “rhethorical backflips?” I’ve been clear in what I mean. I have not done any backflipping. Your problem is that you equate criticism with moral equivalency. They simply are not the same things.


    Actually, they are intentionally showing prisoners for propaganda purposes. I think they’ve made that point pretty clear from the beginning. They want to show them as a means to undermine the morale of their comrades still fighting. Now you may agree with these purposes, and that is all well and good, but don’t deny that we aren’t using the same types of propaganda techniques (though in a less “in your face” way) as the Iraqis are. This do not mean that the specific actions are morally equivalent, it does mean that they both appear to violate Article 13 on its face, and that both sides are willing to use POWs for their propaganda purposes.

  44. How quickly we all resort to name calling and deliberate misinterpretation of each other’s positions. It can be no surprise to any of us at the level of conflict in the world.

    Actually, we probably do OK for a bunch of monkeys…

  45. Gary,

    I said:
    “They are far different from *intentionally* humiliating prisoners on camera for propaganda purposes.”

    You said:
    “Actually, they are intentionally showing prisoners for propaganda purposes.”

    Again the brainless equivalence. If you read the sentences again one uses the word “humiliating,” and the other uses the word “showing.” This makes them “different,” as opposed to “the same.” Even if the prisoners find the filming of the capture humiliating, they are not being made to take part in any action that would not have been taking place anyway. There is no specific purposeful humiliation.

    “They want to show them as a means to undermine the morale of their comrades still fighting.”

    Since their comrades have no way of seeing the images, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

    “Don’t deny that we aren’t using the same types of propaganda.”

    “This do not mean that the specific actions are morally equivalent.”

    In the argument you are making, this is a contradiction. You are claiming hypocricy on the part of the US government. If the two things are not morally equivalent, then they are not the same type of propaganda, and there is no hypocricy. If Iraqi TV had simply shown the US prisoners during the normal course of capture, and the US had complained, you would have a point. Since that is not what happened, you do not.

    Article 13 was written after POW’s were paraded through city streets during WWII. To read it as if it says “states must censor all private media which shows images of prisoners being treated humanely during the normal course of war” is absurd. There is a difference between marching the prisoners to a prison camp where people happen to see them in route, and parading them through a city at high noon.

  46. The whole idea of “rules of war” is for intellectual war mongers sitting on their butts watching the “Theater of War” unfold on their televisions. Does anyone remember the stories of the Revolutionary War? Did we win that by “playing fair”? I wouldn’t give a damn about international law if someone was attacking MY country! I don’t want to see my countrymen murdered any more than the next guy, but hey, I didn’t send them in there to die either. To be surprised, or shocked about their treatment of our soldiers is the most idiotic form of naivity I’ve ever encountered.

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