Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Giving But Not Getting
Keep in mind that the Muslim illegal combatants of the past two decades are not, when captured, prisoners of war. In fact, we can summarily execute them under the current Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and the rules of warfare.
So how have our guys fared, the ones captured on the battlefield, actual prisoners of war, in the past 80 years for treatment required under the '29 convention?
Not so good.
There were conflicts we were involved in during the 30s but only twice did we deploy actual soldiers and sailors (into China) and there were no reported prisoners.
In WWII, a conflict just under 4 years long which cost us more than 407,000 dead, in the European Theater approximately 94,000 of our guys were taken prisoner by the NAZIs and in some POW camps, generally the ones run by the Luftwaffe for captured airmen, the treatment was just at the minimum required by the '29 convention. For others, the captivity was harsher, but the Germans treated English speaking POWs generally better than non English speaking POWs. It was far worse in the Pacific Theater, where approximately 30,000 Americans were taken prisoner, many were Americans in the Philippines when it fell to Imperial Japan. They did not get the '29 minimum. What they got was torture, summary execution, poor food, disease, slave labor and unimaginable suffering. That was the last war we fought where we actually declared war on other countries.
In the Korean War, where we lost 54,246 dead (and another 8,000 MIA) in three years, there were approximately 7,100 Americans taken prisoners by North Korean or Chinese forces. They did not get the '29 minimum. Approximately 2,700 died in captivity, a staggering percentage. What the living got was torture, summary execution, starvation, disease, slave labor and unimaginable suffering.
In the Vietnam War, where we lost 59, 193 dead (and another 1600 are still MIA) in 8 years, there were only 766 official prisoners, mostly shot down airmen, of which 114 died in captivity. They did not get the '29 minimum. What they got was torture, summary execution, poor food, disease and unimaginable suffering.
In Gulf War I, which lasted days and cost us 378 dead, there were only 23 American POWs and their suffering was brief only because the war ended so quickly.
In Gulf War II, which lasted 10 years and cost us 4,404 dead, there were only 8 official American POWs and they did not get the minimum but their suffering lasted only about three weeks as we quickly captured all of Iraq. During the insurgency period, all the Americans taken prisoner by illegal combatants were murdered relatively quickly after they were captured, several were tortured as well.
In Afghanistan, our war against al Qaeda and the Taliban has lasted 13 years, with no end in sight, has cost us 1,098 dead, so far. American POWs are few, probably only 8 of which all were murdered but Sgt. Bergdahl and whether he was a POW or a deserter/collaborator is unclear.
In all the other places in which our servicemen and women served, there were no reported POWs.
So, in review, of all the thousands of American POWs taken since our signing the '29 Geneva Convention, only some of the guys taken by the NAZIs were treated at or near the minimum required by the convention. The NAZIs alone followed the convention. The rest of our POWs were placed by their captors in a simulacrum of hell.
But we're the bad guys.