Friday, January 08, 2010


Why We Could Lose

I asked a question of Congressman Mike Coffman (R-6th Dist.), who is both an Army and Marine veteran, on Wednesday and I'm not sure I liked his answer. Mike said that we should detain those caught on the battlefield until the war is over (that is, treat them like legitimate POWs) and try those who have committed war crimes in military tribunals. I asked, "Aren't all the guys we capture war criminals because they don't wear uniforms?" Mike said basically no, those caught on the battlefield are irregulars but not necessarily war criminals and only those who go after innocent women and children etc. are war criminals deserving the death sentence after a successful tribunal.

And I thought, my, how times have changed. During WWII, eight Germans (two of whom were American citizens loyal to the Reich) came ashore in mid-June, 1942, delivered by U-boat. Two turned themselves in and assisted in the capture of the others, who had discarded their uniforms and donned civilian clothes so they could spread through America and destroy there war facilities and war industries (legitimate targets, not war crimes per se). All were tried by military tribunal in July, found guilty and sentenced to death; and 6, the ones who had not turned themselves in, were electrocuted in August, days after the Supreme Court gave its OK in Ex Parte Quirin, 87 L.Ed. 3 (1942) at the end of July.

We won that war decisively; and horrible, evil Nazi Germany and an even worse Imperial Japan have been model nations, democratic and pacifist, thereafter, certainly for the past 65 years and probably for a Century or more. That's what happens when you really defeat an enemy.

I point out that the Nazi saboteurs were going after legitimate military targets and the only thing they did to deserve death was fail to wear their uniforms as they waged war against us. They were not guilty of even contemplating war crimes, much less doing them-- their only crime deserving death was to be an illegal combatant.

I understand that our enemy waging war against us now is not a nation state, but a somewhat loose organization, with franchises, called the Foundation, al Qaeda in Arabic. Some people say its name was inspired by the novels of Isaac Asimov, but it's tough to get confirmation of that. They choose not to wear uniforms. (If you can afford to buy ammunition and weapons, you can afford a distinctive shirt to wear to show proudly you are al Qaeda--don't give me the Poor Mouth on their behalf). That choice makes them illegal combatants not subject to Geneva Convention protection, indeed, they may be summarily executed upon detection, as we did Nazi saboteurs and spies during the Battle of the Bulge, for example.

We have yet to execute any of the illegal combatants we have captured in the war Islamic extremists are waging against us, even after years and years of detention; and most of these guys are in it to commit war crimes, bring death and destruction to women and children, our women and children. Instead we let them go, with a return-to-combat-against-us rate of 20%, give or take. The current administration wants to bring them to an American prison. Madness. The better course is to interrogate them effectively and when they have no further useful information to give, try them before military tribunals and execute those guilty of being illegal combatants. That's what it takes to win a war. And it's troubling that good guy Coffman, a double veteran and a stalwart Conservative, won't display the grit it takes to defeat ruthless enemies. If not him, who?

We appear to be fighting back with both hands tied behind our back.



The problem w/ executiong Muslim extremists is that by doing so you create martyrs. This morning, in that horrible rag that is now our only daily newspaper in Denver, I read all about how proud is the wife of the Jordanian triple agent that he was a martyr in the cause of Islam.

Therefore, I favor trying these guys b/f military tribunals-- most of them--then putting them in a supermax which is about as close to hell on earth as it gets. Think about being totally isolated from any human contact for the rest of your life.

But if we wish to employ deterrence, again, I suggest that we pull an Ethiopian and castrate the convicted, feeding their genitals to swine. No 72 virgins, just a lifetime of isolation w/o your genitals. Inasmuch as we are not dealing w/ a civilized enemy, perhaps we should bend our own rules a bit. Broadcast that on al Jazeera and see what happens to the rate of recruiting. "Loose your balls for the cause" is not as inspiring as "Uncle San wants you."

As for the connection between Isaac Asimov and al Qaeda, I doubt it seriously. Muslim extremist organization inspired by western science fiction writer? It seems unlikely.
Good post. But I have to agree with T on this, at least for the first couple of paragraphs (then it gets a little messy for my taste).

I'd caution you not to draw parallels between Germany and Japan and the current enemy. As you mention, the former were, prior to their turn to agressive totalitarianism, established societies, democratic or otherwise. They had identity, proad history, ethnic homogeony. Once defeated, the whole of these societies could be coaxed into moving in the right direction.

Even if you killed 80% of the peopl in Somalia, the pirates just aren't going to be brought into the fold (not that pirates are Al-Qaeda). My point is that "complete defeat" of this enemy is just not possible, and as long as you continue to fight them in antiquated military style, you will end up with a stalemate at best.

As you say, my how times have changed.
There is a possible fact from our long history of fighting against Muslims (Jefferson sending the Constitution and Philadelphia, and about eight other of the aircraft carriers of their time, to Tripoli in 1802 or so was the start). We also fought the so called Moro Pirates in the Philippines after the Spanish American War. They weren't pirates, they were Muslims fighting against the American occupation. At one point, perhaps 1911, the General in charge (Black Jack Pershing) is rumored to have executed some 49 captured Moros and buried them in secret graves wrapped up in pig skins and guts. The 50th Moro was released to tell the rest what had happened. Muslim insurgent activity fell to near zero for two generations. We won't do it; its cruel and unusual punishment, and I wouldn't blog on it per se, but Anon (who might be Tony) brought up the general subject, so....
But that sounded like a fairly complete victory to me in the PI.
Mike, I have a lot of Somali clients and I feel for them and the mess their country is but I'm going to go full isolationism on Somalia as I can't think of any solution at all.
Thanks for the comments.
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