Compare and Contrast
From TNR’s excellent review of The Killer Trail, a history of one murderous French expedition into the heart of 19th century Africa (emphasis mine):
The Europeans, Taithe notes, never recognized African kingdoms as states, and never interpreted the Geneva Convention as applying to these colonial wars. “Against the uncivilized,” the historian writes, “‘no need to be civilized’ seemed to be the argument.”
And here’s Donald Rumsfeld (emphasis mine):
Rumsfeld replied that the Geneva Convention applies to all prisoners held in Iraq, but not to those held in Guantanamo Bay, where detainees captured in the global war on terror are held.
Any al-Qaeda or Taliban personnel taken prisoner are to be treated consistent with the Geneva Convention, under a decision made by Bush, Rumsfeld added.
He said the distinction is that the international rules govern wars between countries but not those involving groups such as al-Qaeda. “Terrorists don’t comply with the laws of war. They go around killing innocent civilians,” Rumsfeld added.
And John Yoo (emphasis mine):
Al Qaeda is not a nation-state, and its members–as they demonstrated so horrifically on Sept. 11, 2001–violate the very core principle of the laws of war by targeting innocent civilians for destruction. While Taliban fighters had an initial claim to protection under the conventions (since Afghanistan signed the treaties), they lost POW status by failing to obey the standards of conduct for legal combatants: wearing uniforms, a responsible command structure, and obeying the laws of war.
As a result, interrogations of detainees captured in the war on terrorism are not regulated under Geneva.
And Thomas Sowell (emphasis mine):
The argument is made that we must respect the Geneva convention because, otherwise, our own soldiers will be at risk of mistreatment when they become prisoners of war.
Does any sane adult believe that the cutthroats we are dealing with will respect the Geneva convention? Or that our extension of Geneva convention rights to them will be seen as anything other than another sign of weakness and confusion that will encourage them in their terrorism?
No one has suggested that we disregard the Geneva convention for people covered by the Geneva convention. The question is whether a lawless court shall seize the power to commit this nation to rules never agreed to by those whom the Constitution entrusted with the power to make international treaties.
I remain confident that there’s no possible connection between refusing to abide by the Geneva Conventions and subsequent human rights abuses.