June 02, 2004

Serious Post-Westphalianism II

Alan Dershowitz is trying to reset the Geneva Conventions for a post-Westphalian world. The attempt will fail because he's trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. The Geneva Conventions are perfectly fine for conflicts in which all sides are relatively committed to honoring them. They are like black tie event dress codes. If you're at a black tie event, the rules are just fine. The problem is that the incidence of black tie events is rather small in most people's lives. So you need new rule sets in addition to the Geneva Conventions, not instead of. You need a new protocol that covers in much more detail the growing incidence of combat that does not fall under the convention rule set.

Fundamentally, you need to fill in the grey area of what is permissible when one side or another does not fall within the protections of the Geneva Conventions and you have to explicitly make them pretty bad things. Achieving Geneva Convention military protected status needs to once again become a coveted status because bad things happen to you when you are not protected.

Currently, this is implicit in the Conventions but, like many implicit legal consequences (see 9th and 10th amendments to the US Constitution), the original message has been lost and the genteel art of leaving ugly things unsaid but clear must be replaced with directives that cannot be mistaken or twisted.

The fundamental truth that must be recognized is that including unlawful combatants under the protections of the Geneva Conventions is not civilized and magnanimous. It is rather an expression of decadence and societal rot that denigrates and demeans the sacrifices that lawful combatants and their societies make. All the shortcuts and clever strategies that are denied us by following the Conventions lengthen war, increase costs, and increase casualties.

Urban warfare would be a snap without protections of civilian populations. You just flatten the place and run a rolling line of FAE across the ruins if you're not in a hurry. If you are in a rush and don't mind the radiation, a simple nuke does the job in a few minutes. Instead, we are deathly afraid of urban combat because doing it within Convention restrictions is a long, painful process that causes many casualties on our side.

This new Geneva Convention will be a very difficult treaty to negotiate. It must, however be negotiated. Post-westphalianism is not a conservative, roll back the clock, event (at least if we are to survive it). It is a type of spiral development where we bring back necessary elements of primal, total war sufficient to heal the seams and flaws of our limiting war via tools such as national sovereignty and protection of civilians. These seams and gaps are a great weapon in the hands of the jihadis.

HT: Petrified Truth

Posted by TMLutas at June 2, 2004 06:09 AM