Prisoners, War, and Ethics

When I was a child I saw a war movie where some enemy forces threw up their hands and surrendered. They were taken prisoner by the Americans. I asked “Why don’t they just kill them?” My brother told me “That just isn’t done. When somebody surrenders, you don’t kill them, you take them prisoner.” At the time I thought it was pretty stupid. I had the understanding commensurate to my age.

When I became a teenager I read profusely about war, expecially the great battles of World War II, and I began to understand. I read about how the Japanese, disregarding the Geneva Convention, would torture, starve, and kill American troops to try to get information out of them. I read about the Bata’an Death March and about how good, patriotic people died like pigs simply for daring to defend their county. I also read about how American forces would deal with the enemy when they surrendered to us. No matter how they treated Americans, we treated our enemies like human beings. We were the good guys and enemy knew it. So much so that when Germany was on its last brink, German forces rushed to surrender to the Americans because they knew what lied in store for them if they were captured by the Russians.

The main argument for following ethical rules of treatment for prisoners of war, however, is not the touchy-feely realm of it makes you feel good. The point is that when you treat enemy prisoners humanely and even your enemies are forced to acknowledge it, it facilitates a quicker end to hostilities.

If you are among those who are cheering American inhumanity to its prisoners under the guise of patriotism, perhaps you can even be forgiven your abandment of human rights ethics. Maybe you think the word human doesn’t apply to A-rabs and if so no argument I can produce is going to help you, so let’s try a more pragmatic approach: perhaps, in a week or so, the US has a buch of Iraqis cornered. There’s no way out and they know it. Maybe six months ago they would have thrown up a white flag at this point, but given the inhumane nature of US captors, they are like fuck this. Better to go out guns blazing and take some of these Americans with us. So much the better for everyone concerned, we don’t have to pay to house prisoners now. So much the better for everyone but the American military person that gets smoked in this Iraqis blaze of glory, this American gets to go home in a bodybag. Score this one to American mistreatment of prisoners of war. And your dumb ass was giving the thumbs up when you saw the pictures.

34 Responses to “Prisoners, War, and Ethics”

  1. The Sicilian says:

    Agreed that when you negate someone else’shuman rights, you, therefore negate your own. Agreed that what those soldiers did was horrid. Agreed that there are idiots in the world that celebrate this humanity, they’re called monsters, not humans.
    I don’t think this small of an incident should reflect on America’s entire military. Our soldiers through this war and many before it have been good to prisoners. If the Iraqi soldiers base all that we have done on a small incident, then they are being as irrational as the monsters that committed the crimes. The insane media attention and drama surrounding the abuse fueled a lot more than it should have. This it not to say that the Iraqis have ever followed The Geneva Convention themselves, but that’s why our military is better. To put it frankly, punish the people involved with the abuse of prisoners and be done with it. Stress to our soldiers that abuse of soldiers is inhumane and self destructive, but stress to the world that a handful out of hundreds of thousands is far from making the US military monsters that other countries must run from for fear of abuse.

  2. The Sicilian says:

    It’s early, I haven’t had coffee, so, forgive the mispells and bad grammar.

  3. gvslim says:

    Interesting concept. I say good for the American soldiers “abusing” the prisoners. Kudos, thumbs up and fucking a right to them. If one of those prisoners gave up any information that prevented one American death from a roadside bomb, mortar attack or a convoy attack, then their methods are sound and the ends justify the means. I would like to quote General William Tecumseh Sherman here “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it”, This means is that we, as Americans need to accept the fact that there is no “humane” way to fight a war. War is war, it sucks people die things get blown up and so on. The prisoner abuse is no worse than anything that happens in any other Arab prison today. Wow the prisoners got stripped naked and led around by a woman whopity doo! Oh no they were forced to pile up naked, Noooooooo not that! What were they supposed to do with them? Set up GED programs, exercise equipment and satellite TV? Those prisoners still have their lives and can breathe. What about American POWs that were beat to hell and paraded on Al-Jazerra? What about the prisoners who were there under Sadaam? How about, Bashar al-Assad, Muhammad Omar, King Abdullah, The Ayatolla or Gaddaffi’s prisoners? Oh yeah we don’t see them. What about the Italian who was beheaded? How about the Arab atrocities in the Sudan, Chad? How about the European tourists taken prisoner and killed in the Algerian desert? If these Arabs want to war and not follow the Geneva conventions then good for them but don’t cry when the Americans don’t. Fuck being the good guys? The only mistake our soldiers have made was to let the pictures out to the media. The guy that let them out ought to be fragged. Stupid ass.

  4. Mexigogue says:

    Hooray for the servicmen who violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the one guy with the integrity to report the violation of military law should be fragged??? Discipline and integrity should take a backseat to emotion then huh? And fuck being the good guys? Being the good guys went a long way towards our relations with Germany and Japan these past 59 years. But that means nothing next to short term emotionalism huh?

  5. The Sicilian says:

    ???? It’s never alright(or thumbs up) to abuse anyone. That’s why we are Americans. We know and respect human rights. That why nations are jealous of us. Other nations do not hold this code of ethics and that’s why they suck. America knows the difference between right and wrong and we honor human rights. This method has helped us in the past. The moment that abusing prisoners becomes alright, is the moment that America is no better than the rest of third world hellholes.

  6. gvslim says:

    The allies were the good guys in Germany and Japan? War has no good guys! The allies are the good guys because we won and got to write the books and produce the movies after the war. I am curious of your definition of good guys? Is killing millions of civilians with conventional and nuclear bombs the act of a good guy? Is destroying every city in a country the act of a good guy? Is still occupying both of those countries 60 years after the war has ended the act of a good guy? Is rounding up imprisoning and executing former members of the Nazi/Tojo regimes the acts of good guys? I would love to hear how the average German/Japanese citizen viewed American soldiers during the war. I can see it now
    Mexi: “Hey Fritz what do you think about those B-17s up there?”
    Fritz: ” After they fire bomb my city tonight, we are gonna drink some beer do a line of coke and pick up some hookers. Good chaps those Americans”
    Mexi: “Hideki how about those Americans? USA #1 eh?”
    Hideki(Glowing in the dark from radiation): “I ruve Americans more than godjirra”
    “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it”. The only difference now is that the media has the ability and freedom to show the world war in its abhorrant reality

  7. Mexigogue says:

    Ok Ghenghis. Tell Chaka I said hi.

  8. The Sicilian says:

    War and torture are two different definitions. To think of the two as the same is negating the reality of both and what each accomplishes.

  9. MB says:


    The credibility that the U.S. has built in the past 60 plus years has been effectively stripped away by our own lies and bad judgment. Just a short two years ago practically the whole world was behind us following 9-11. Now we are despised.

    We originally invaded Iraq under the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction. Over a year has passed and no WMD have been found. (Although there is now plenty of depleted uranium to go around) There was even a claim that Iraq had something to do with the 9-11 attacks. This has never been proven but many Americans still believe it since the lie has been repeated over and over in the media ad nauseam.

    Since then proponents of the invasion have switched gears and claimed that we invaded on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a bad person who tortured and killed his own people. Yes, maybe they are right, he was a bad guy – maybe this is a good reason. But then the report of mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners comes out.

    Ok I don’t think I have to tell that this last reason is the one that makes the good ol’ U.S.A look like the biggest hypocrite bitch the world has ever seen.

    Do you even understand the gravity of the situation that we are now in? Do you have any idea how much more danger our men and women that are serving in Iraq are now in because of this prisoner abuse? Think man! It is obvious that you don’t give a rat’s ass about our credibility as it is reflected on the world stage. This is a very dangerous attitude to have. My nephews and nieces are going to inherit this country and they should suffer because of incredible shortsightedness and infantile hubris such as yours?

  10. Mexigogue says:

    Oh snap! He went there with the hubris!

  11. gvslim says:

    Iraq has never been nor will it ever be safe for American Soldiers. It is a freaking war zone. Soldiers are dying daily. They were dying daily before the whole prison abuse thing came up, an they will continue to die until there are no longer American troops there. My responses are neither emotional nor are they short sighted as you say. This war was never about WMD, freedom, Sadaam is a dick or any of the other sound bytes you may hear from the talking heads on nightly cable news shows. This war is being fought for the same reasons all American wars since the revolutionary war have been about, American financial and economic interests. I am not here to debate weather it is right or wrong. My point is that if soldiers are in a war zone they should be allowed to defend themselves and gather intelligence that will allow them to defeat their enemies. You stated that I have no concern about the credibility of the USA on the world stage. You are right! I do not believe that United States government has any credibility. I also do not believe that any government in the world is credible. All governments act to protect their own interests and maintain or better their nations way of life. This obviously conflicts with other nations and wars start and people die. My point is that war sucks people die and you cannot dress it up and make it nice!

  12. Mexigogue says:

    First off, I know we all look alike but me and MB are two different people (although we do have the same initials). So let me clarify.

    You admit that the pretext for the war is all BS.

    The goal is national interest.

    There is no higher ideal (i.e. Truth, God, human rights) for which we should act.

    Ok, tell me this. If situations changed to where it suddenly became in the National Interest to reinstitute race based slavery, we should then do it? There is no higher ethics that should prevent us from doing this?

  13. gvslim says:

    First off, I know we all look alike but MB and me are two different people (although we do have the same initials). So let me clarify. —-> You are the younger better looking brother I assumed.

    You admit that the pretext for the war is all BS. —-> Yes

    The goal is national interest. —> Yes, national interests are not always good! They can be all wrong and fucked up!

    There is no higher ideal (i.e. Truth, God, human rights) for which we should act. —> All propaganda by the politicians, religious leaders and most importantly business leaders who bankroll the preachers and the politicians.

    Ok, tell me this. If situations changed to where it suddenly became in the National Interest to reinstitute race based slavery, we should then do it? —-> Of course but only if it is white people that are enslaved. j/k. The unions would never go for it.
    There is no higher ethics that should prevent us from doing this? —-> Common sense, I am not debating the war but the whole prisoner thing. I totally believe the war is BS, if we are going to put our soldiers there at least put them there to win. I personally believe that it is infantile hubris(immature arrogance) to pretend that the United States is some big moral righteous world leader and the rest of the world looks to us for leadership.

  14. Mexigogue says:

    Ok, if they were even *thinking* about making you the spokesman for the Bush administration, I think that last comment just killed it. Hard to argue with the “Yes I’m Darth Vadar, and what of it?” response. Ha ha!

  15. THE "D" says:

    This has become one of the most on interesting topics every discussed on this Blog. I just used the word hubris ina sentence thanks MB.

    If you think about it there is alot of information gathering that the U.S. gains from extremes measures. Now I don’t mean the BS that was shown in the photos I am talking about real life (interogation) Each country in the world uses it to gain an advantage on their enemies and sometimes neighbors. There is nothing wrong with it and has become something that we need as well as other copuntries to survive. I am just afraid that the next picture that is shown on Iraqi T.V. will be something pertaining to a American female soldier or child. I try to think how I would feel if that was my child over their fighting. what will we win other than the rights to many years of crude oil production. That is all we are fighting for over there.

    If you think about many of the incidents that have occurred in iraq and Cuba they are very bad but have happened during every war in history. The vanquished gets fucked over all the time. That is the reason for reason for some people. But when you start trying to envoke you will (US) on other countries because you don’t like them …….. that is a problem. There are probably many people out there (unknown to the US) that are trying their best to get nerve gas and nuclear materials to the states to devestate us. I try to reason from their point of view. But the problem is that I am from Detroit and this is how it goes.

    If you hit my brother or sister I hit your brother, sister, nephew, uncle, whoever. If I happen to see your mother she might get it too (only in the hood) There are no rules on engagement. I try to hit you harder and closer to your heart. That is what Israel has done for years. When I hear these bleeding hearts say that the red cross and the US doctors should inspect the prisoners that is bullshit. They are captured just feed them and keep them sheltered.

    Diplomacy usually happens in the hood when one party gets scared or someone gets killed and the person who did it goes to jail. Then without any notice the insanity stops. I don’t see a ending to this Iraq issue. It is just a matter of time until some American (maybe just laid off from a company that shipped the jobs over seas) assist the terrorist in getting a major city destroyed in the US — that this insanity with cease. We cannot protect the entire world.

  16. Mexigogue says:

    Million dollar question for those of you who think there is no humane way to fight a war: Was the World Trade Center a legitimate target? Why or why not?

  17. THE "D" says:

    Now please don’t understand what I am about to say. I love America and I appreciate what many Americans have sacrificed in the past to give me the life I have today. I would not be lving this way without alot of sacrifice from Great American men and woman.

    However, to answer the question:

    It was a perfect target to strike fear int he American people. If the plan went off the way the wanted I doubt if we would even be in Iraq we would be negotiating and re-evaluating our stand on alot of international arenas. They would have proved that there is nothing that cannot be touched in America if we don’t keep our noses out of other countries affairs.

    Think about it. If you were going to war with someone do you want to blow up there garage or their house???? They might not get the point if the new car get blown up. But i bet you know what I am trying to do if I miss you right after you leave the house in the morning for work!!!

    The whole point to me is that the (terrorist) as many call them want the US to stop F..g with their countries and trying to make them Christians. There were hundreds of religions out there before (Catholics,Protestants…) went around calling people civilized people uncivilized. (this we need to leave for another convo. We cannot go around imposing our will on people and think there will not be consequences.

    Please open you mind and remember this is WAR! You cannot go around with kit gloves and expect to win. If we did not have cameras all over the damn place we could go in alot harder and get results. Matter of fact I believe all the journalist should get their asses out of there and come home.

  18. Mexigogue says:

    What an answer! This blog is giving me a woody!!!

    Sicilian: Rational Objectivist Patriot, freedom as higher ethics
    Gvslim: Machivellian Darth Vader my country right or wrong
    MB: Critic of Bush Administration hypocrisy and spending up 59 years of international legitimacy
    Dave: The gloves are OFF DAMMIT!!!!
    Mexigogue: I have my inner cabinet!

  19. The Sicilian says:

    An interesting, but fun mixture.

  20. gvslim says:

    I’m with you “D”. My only disagreement is that the Muslims spread their religion at the tip the sword just like the Christians.

  21. THE "D" says:

    Usefulness of a Blog:

    I would never have meaningful converstions like this at “Leroy’s” or any other place I hang out at in Lansing Michigan.

  22. Mexigogue says:

    You missed it last night Dave. Last night there were three BIG BUFFALO looking bitches freak dancing in Leroy’s. PIcture Humongous asses bouncing up and down and me and Ken looking like we just ate lemons! Then one of them grabbed my cue stick and started doing obscene things with it. It needs to be sanitized!!!!!

  23. THE "D" says:

    I always miss all the funny s—. Damn! I bet one of them was the tall blond with the big……. we will discuss later. She is about 6’2! I had to stop hanging out on Sunday. I play enough on Friday and Saturday…….shucks I better put weds,thurs,tues,mon………well anyway I need to chill on Sunday.

  24. THE "D" says:

    Also I hope that cue is not warped now. You will nevr be able to draw the cue ball!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Mexigogue says:

    These women were probably fine as hell back when “Push It” by Salt n Peppa first came out. Well now they’re Salt and Heffa, but somebody forgot to tell them. I’m scarred. And so is my cue.

  26. THE "D" says:

    Man, you are funny as hell!

  27. The Sicilian says:

    Poor, poor pool cue. My condolences.

  28. Phelps says:

    Hmm. I’m late.

    Abu Grahib is a dead story. What happened happened, and has been corrected. It was a crime, and it is being treated as a crime. It was not the norm, but it was not unprecedented. We had bad guys in the American army in DubyaDubyaToo also (usually with the Japanese, since they were subhuman to the whites of the day where the Germans were not.)

    They would crush the wounded’s head with their boots rather than use a bullet to finish them off, much less help them. They would gather gold teeth to make jewelry out of. (Sound familiar?) They would send body parts like Jap Skulls back home as war trophies. Does this mean that America was evil? Hell no. Does it mean the war was wrong? Nope. Does it mean that everyone in the Pacific was doing it? No. Should we have dropped the bomb? Yes, but not for the Japanese. Hiroshima to was to show the RUSSIANS that we had the bomb, and Nagasaki was the show that we had more than one, and it wasn’t a fluke.

    And no, the WTC wasn’t the best target. It was a good target, but not the best. The Statue of Liberty would have been better. The White House would have been nifty. So would Cape Canaveral. The WTC was the best ECONOMIC target. The best followup would have been to start hitting shopping malls in December. The fact is that they didn’t do that because they had their ass in a sling by November because this administration didn’t ask, “why do they hate us?” — they kicked ass and took names.

    -WE- are the only chance the world has for freedom. Europe has been lost. We crippled communism in Russia, but we didn’t kill it. It is hiding in Germany and France. This country has been draining the world of the smartest and most ambitious for the last 300 years, and now we are the only ones in the world with any collective sense or ambition. Islamic Arabia, with it’s “don’t ask don’t think” policy has managed to run off anyone with a propensity for thinking, and now they are reaping the misery that brain drain brings. If America won’t fight to show them what can be done if they will be like America, then they won’t have anything to do but envy us. Israeli Jews are hated because the went into a land that was worth absolutely nothing, and made it worth a fortune while Arab land one scant mile away is still worthless. Arabia is as close to the bottom as you can get and still have hope. We are that hope.

    Are we “imposing American culture?” Fucking A. American Culture is what America IS. It is the reason that we are the baddest sumbitches on the planet. It is the reason that our poorest people live as well as their richest. The best way to have a good life is to be American. The next best way is to act as American as possible. About the only ones who realize this whole scandal is a pile of bullshit is the Iraqis, because they know what real torture is.

    The prison scandal isn’t going to result in any more deaths than if it never happened. It may cost us the war, but that will be because of Fifth Columnists (how prescient that phrase was) here losing us the war, but it isn’t going to effect our suicidal foes. There is a saying in negotiation: The one who is willing to walk away is the one that holds all the cards in a negotiation. If you are already planning to commit suicide, there is no way to negotiate with you. The only thing to do is to convince you to do it as quickly as possible and keep you from taking anyone else with you. You can’t get madder and kill yourself twice (as much as I would wish that it was possible.)

  29. The Sicilian says:

    Well written, rational thought.

  30. Mexigogue says:

    30 plus comments is ridiculous! I’m loving it but I’m going to have to have to find a way to address Phelps’ points in perhaps a spinoff of this subject to-morrow. I’m too busy hating freedom and being jealous of the western world right now. That and some annoying guys keep trying to smoke me out. Be that as it may, I’m out for today!

  31. Neil says:

    Thanks Phelps. That was the best comment that I’ve read yet on this topic. Very well spoken.

  32. THE "D" says:


    I have to say that was the comment on the subject also. I think this topic could go on for another day. Not that it has too!

    Mike what’s on your mind today?

  33. Phelps says:

    I doubt you are busy hating freedom. That seems to be an arab peculiarity more than a Muslim one.