Friday, December 10, 2004

Geneva, Shmeneva

The Geneva Convention. What is it?

Actually, it's not an it but a they. There are four "Geneva Conventions". The first convention is for sick or wounded soldiers, the second is for sailors, the third is for the treatment of POW's, and the fourth is for civilians during the time of war.

The conventions are over 100 years old, having begun in 1859 by Henri Dunant. Dunant witnessed atrocities in Italy during the Battle of Solférino and organized the local village folk (? I guess village folk? I always think of people outside the urban areas in Europe as "Village Folk") and helped get the dying soldiers medical treatment, at least, what passed for medical treatment at the hands of Village Folk in the 1800's. There was little Dunant could do that day to help much of anyone but later, he proposed the idea for what would later become the Red Cross. Dunant was a humanitarian but he wasn't stupid and knew that Red Cross medics would get shot or worse if there wasn't some type of mutually agreed upon protection for them. So the Swiss government hosted a conference and the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies and Field was created.

It has been changed over the years, most notably in 1929 when it was changed to cover the treatment of POW's and in 1949 (modified in 1977), when the entire thing was overhauled because after WWII, I'll bet people were like, "Wow, someone really set the bar higher, guys." In other words, mass genocide + photographic evidence mean one big bulging rug and a serious lack of excuses.

S'now, here we are in 2004. Iraq is a mess and there are few who can or will even bother to try to deny it. The insurgency is making things quite difficult. Too bad smallpox, a few blankets, and a fifth of Jack won't do the job anymore, eh? So the military guys (under orders, as if that's an excuse) found men (just random sons, fathers, and grandpas) at traffic stops or by just bursting into their homes in the middle of the night (!) and recruited them to "help" the soldiers discover who the rebels were. The Iraqi men did not wish to participate. C'mon, even if they don't agree with the rebels, they still have to live with them after the Americans leave. Who wants to be a narc? So they stuck some of them in Abu Gharib. I'm sure that they're probably sticking them somewhere else now. At any rate, they (the prison guards) took pictures of these guys naked and sometimes forced them to perform sexual acts on one another (they made someone's grandpa do this) and used the pictures to blackmail the men into cooperating. This is in a prison where people had cameras (again, stating the obvious). Now, if that prison was that bad and people were still allowed to not only take pictures, but share them, can you even begin to imagine (I am actually having trouble and I'm glad) what must be going on in Guantanamo Bay? That place is a fortress. Even after reading David Hicks' affidavit, I still suspect that it is much worse if the person isn't just a footsoldier, as Hicks was.

Killing people on one side of the world in the name of an ideal and then stepping all over the very same ideal whenever it's deemed necessary means that there really is no ideal, there are just a series of lame fucking excuses.

The Nazis. Genocidal maniacs, guys who march funny. And yet, even they have a better human rights record with regard to prisoner treatment than we do (officially). I wish that felt shocking.

*This post was pretty link intensive. Since the U.S. has lost its fucking mind and I started writing more about politics, I thought that it was necessary to include source material.