John McCain

Downed Pilot Night on Larry King


In the midst of a chat up on American POWs held by Iraq, Scott O'Grady—the F-16 pilot who was shot down over Bosnia and was a great American hero for about a week back in 1995—punctured the solemn warnings about violating the Geneva Convention offered by fellow guest Sen. John McCain—the aviator who was shot down over Vietnam and was a candidate for president for about a week back in 2000—by noting that nobody much abides by the treaty.

"I think historically, though, we have to also recognize that there are very few countries that hold to the Geneva Convention outside of the United States of America and maybe Great Britain," O'Grady said. End of topic.

While we're at it, can we find some sort of treaty that networks violate by dragging family members before cameras? Maybe a special gulag for producers who book these cruel, twisted episodes. Did they used to hang out in hospital waiting rooms to ask relatives of patients in surgery how they felt? Insane.

NEXT: Pax Man Fever

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  1. Maybe they’re hoping that one of these days the family members will say “We’re glad he was captured. We never liked him anyway.”

  2. The real problem with the Geneva Conventions is the same as that of other points of international law in the modern world: They legitimize neither the unconventional resistance and terrorism that is the only way for weak nations and groups to resist the stronger ones, nor the pre-emptive attacks and indefinite detention that are the only way for strong groups to resist such tactics.

    Since neither small, weak groups (terrorists, irregular militias) nor large, irresistible forces (the US, colonial powers) can be counted on to do anything out of a sense of long-term benefit or ordinary human decency rather than their immediate short-term goals, it is only a matter of time before most of these international concords are little more than dead letters.

  3. I would never hope that any tradgedy like this befalls me, however, I would love to answer or see someone answer the inane question like, “your daughter was just kidnapped by psycho serial killer, how do you feel?” or “Your husband is having the shit kicked out of him by Iraqi’s, how do you feel?” Gee, Larry I feel just Fu#$%$# fantastic, what dumb question, how the f$%# to you think I feel.

    For those wondering why people even go on these shows, I believe it is further proof that people will literally do anything to be on tv. In some sick way it is similar to why people will humilate themselves on “reality” based TV shows.


  4. Some producer offers them some cash, then gives them the spiel about how America wants to share their pain. Sad, in a way, but I don’t begrudge them their right to publicize their torment. Everyone reacts to this stuff differently. I’d be surprized if any of them were actually in it for cynical reasons. If the attention makes them feel better in the short term, maybe it’s for the best.

  5. The claim in the original posting is not
    correct. For example, in WW2, the Germans
    stuck to the Geneva convention with US and
    British prisoners but not with Soviet
    prisoners. Had they not, I doubt there
    would have been a situation comedy (Hogan’s
    Heroes) made about life in the POW camps.

    I agree it is wise to be skeptical about
    international agreements, but some of them
    do work sometimes, and so may be worth the
    effort. Others, such as the Universal
    Postal Union, embody solutions to coordination
    problems, and are useful as well.

  6. NATO (which includes the US of course) possibly violated at least one portion of the Geneva Conventions in its bombing campaign.

    Article 55 states: “Care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long-term and severe damage. This protection includes a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population.”

    As the NATO bombing campaign often centered upon attacking oil refineries and chemical plants, it appears that it potentially violated Article 55.

    Not that I was ever a fan of Milosevic, but it appears that the Geneva Conventions prohibit a lot of activities that we would not norammyl think of as violations of the rules of war.

  7. These cruel, twisted episodes wouldn’t exist without the consent of the aggrieved. Like Joe
    a few posts back, I’ve often alternated between scratching my head and pounding it against the wall wondering what these people are thinking. “Sure I just lost a loved one in an unimaginably horrrible way, but at least I get to meet Katie Couric.” Insane, indeed.

  8. Don’t forget depleted uranium artillary shells and bunker buster bombs. One estimate is that 30% of Iraq is already irradiated from them and the cancer rate there since the first Gulf War has tripled.

    Not to worry, though. It’ll clear up in about 1,000 years.

  9. Lefty, do you have a cite for that “one estimate” of 30% irradiation? Because here’s the thing about depleted uranium — it’s, well, *depleted*. The biggest danger from DU appears to be linked to its properties as a heavy metal, and then only manifest themselves via ingestion or inhalation. It’s not like sitting on top of a reactor pile or something.

  10. You have no historical perspective. Go back and look at how the media treated the astronauts wives. Especially when the capsule burned up on the pad. And I remember similar treatment during the 50’s to other folks. And it was all live of course. Get off your high horse.

  11. Here’s a few links. I’ve lost the one that referenced the Iraq coverage but will continue to look – it was primarily in southern Iraq around Basra. The stuff is much more dangerous when it hits and burns but does disperse into the ground to be blown around with the sand and also hangs out in the water. The official US position, of course, is to deny that it’s a problem.

  12. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/21/2004 12:18:41
    [In] mourning, it is better to err on the side of grief than on the side of formality.

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