04 October 2006

An Answer to John Steinberg

An article by John Steinberg is floating around on the net at the moment. I rarely use this blog as a platform for anything other than my own goofiness, but after reading his piece I felt I had to respond to it. Mr. Steinberg’s article was published on 27 Sept 06 on the IMC Israel website. You can read it by hitting the link HERE.

There are a number of glaring contradictions, leaps of logic, and bad arguments in Mr. Steinberg’s article. First of all is the misapplication of the Geneva Convention. The Convention’s goal was to produce rules of conduct for nations during times of armed conflict.

Article 4; section 2 of the convention states the following:

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Furthermore, Article 3; Section 1 state:
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

In the conflict in Iraq, we have seen that the insurgent forces are in violation of the tenants in Article 4. They wear no uniforms, their suicide bombers do not carry open arms, and no one is clearly responsible for their actions in a chain of command. Given these simple facts, the Insurgent forces do not bind themselves to the convention. Therefore, they should not be given protection under its provisions.

As for violations of Article 3, insurgent forces have taken hostage members of the media, relief groups, and members of the US armed forces stationed there. The same forces have violated Subsection “D” by beheading these hostages without trial or judicial guarantees. Yet again we see that the Insurgency does not care for agreed upon rules of warfare. I fail to see how there can be an expectation of relief by Insurgency forces under the Convention.

In regards to the Bush Administration’s “Enabling Act”, as Mr. Steinberg calls it, pay particular attention to the use of the word “alien”. No one is suggesting that this power be used to detain or imprison American citizens. If it were, I would be the first to lead the charge against the Capitol Building. Mr. Steinberg’s logic here is that foreign nationals are afforded the rights and privileges of a United States citizen; namely our Constitutional right of due process. I once again fail to see how a foreign national that presents a clear and present danger to our national interest operating outside our borders can be mystically granted the privilege of our Constitutional protection. The extension of Mr. Steinberg’s argument is that all foreign nationals are protected under all of our laws, at any time and any place. I will leave you to ascertain the dynamics this implies.

This act is designed to address how Americans are to treat situations that are not covered under the Geneva Convention. As we have seen the Insurgency does not fit into any category proscribed under the convention. I doubt that Insurgent forces in Iraq or Afghanistan are debating this finer point of morality. This in and of itself means nothing, other than someone in Washington is concerned with how we should conduct ourselves in this gray area. Whether you agree with the law’s application is for you to decide.

Finally, Mr. Steinberg uses a poor form of argument by bringing up the German Enabling Acts. The Enabling Act has nothing to do with the topic at hand and is called a non sequitur argument. If Mr. Steinberg wishes to present his views on a piece of legislation the Bush Administration is presenting, then stick to that. However attempting to bridge the gap between this piece of legislation and the Holocaust makes no logical sense. These statements are designed to pander to the reader’s emotions and not his reason. Statements like “there is no doubt what sentence Mr. Bush wants to write”, are another example of this type of argument.

I’ve done this as an exercise in critical reading. Yes, my political views are to the right. Yes, I think that we should be in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, I grow weary of reading pieces like this that do not use basic reason. I do not ask you agree with my political views, but I do ask you to read critically. I fear that many of our citizens replace reason with emotion when analyzing these topics. Don’t take anything on faith folks, and use the ability to reason that the Great Architect gave you.


Scott W. Hallgren said...

Amen, brother!

As the masters of hyperbole & spin on both sides of the aisle have racheted up their rhetoric, critical thinking and rational judgements have been tossed out the window - which makes things worse at a time like this, when people sorely need the facts and true scope of any situation, before a relevant decision about anything can be made.

Sic 'em.

Mommie Dearest said...

Alas, it is sad but true that the majority of the populace can barely read and think, much less think critically. Still the world at large, and Mr. Steinberg in particular, prattles on under the flawed perception that their feeble attempts at coherent thought are relevant and that people give a rat's ass about it. Guess what...WE DON'T