July 10, 2006



THE British military defines experience as the ability to recognize a mistake the second time you make it. By that standard, we should be very experienced in dealing with captured terrorists, since we've made the same mistake again and again.

Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.

Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.

Units in the "Good War" used to brag about how few Japanese they took prisoner.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 10, 2006 9:44 PM

Our GI's would be sent to serve hard labor in Levensworth for killing a surrendering terrorist. Sometimes I wonder why our troops leave their families, give up their lives to fight in that kind of conditions. Solution: give all terrorists to the Iraqis, Sunnis to Shiites, and vice versa. Let them do whatever they like to their own people. Keep our troops out of the mess.

Posted by: ic at July 10, 2006 10:18 PM

RE: "Our GI's would be sent to serve hard labor in Levensworth [sic] for killing a surrendering terrorist."

Not a problem: "He wasn't surrendering, Sir. He was lifting a grenade. Right, guys?"

"That's right, Sir. Since they found out how ripped we were by that last beheading video, they've all vowed not to be taken alive. Nasty business, Sir, but that's the way they want it."

Works for me.

Posted by: Axel Kassel at July 10, 2006 10:45 PM

One rat and everyone goes to Leavenworth or the chair.

Actually, one rat is weak for one moment and everyone goes to the hole.

Posted by: Pepys at July 10, 2006 11:30 PM

Notice that our guys in WWII didn't often say the same thing about Germans. Now why would that be?

Posted by: ghostcat at July 11, 2006 1:48 AM

I should forebear to advise my commanding officer that he may issue "black flag" orders calling for summany execution of captured war criminals.

Once the prisoner has surrendered, or after he has been rendered hors de combat, as by wounds, he might be executed as a war criminal, but not simply shot out of hand.

Now, in the enemy is known to have been feigning surrender, as had been attributed to the Japanese, rules of engagement will allow for what the troops would be doing anyway. This is why abuse of LoW protection, as when one falsely offers surrender or fights behind a protected place, person or symbol, is itself a serious war crime.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 11, 2006 2:33 AM

Actually, there were times during WWW II when we did not take German prisoners. (This usually happened after a German atrocity.

And the main reason that we did not take Japanese prisoners is that the Japanese refused to surrender, not matter how hopeless the tactical situation.

That said, Peters' idea, however tempting, is silly, for all sorts of obvious reasons.

Posted by: Jim Miller at July 11, 2006 7:01 AM

Also, we were fighting the Germans on big land-masses with good lines of supply and rear echelon troops. We were fighting the Japanese on little islands with lousy lines of supply and no rear echelon. In the Pacific, taking prisoners meant front-line troops sharing their own food and standing guard duty.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 11, 2006 7:19 AM

IIRC, Japan was not signatory to the Geneva Conventions, while Germany was. The Germans actually complied with the Conventions for the most part, at least when dealing with the western Allies.

Posted by: Mike Morley at July 11, 2006 7:27 AM

Yup, iit was all the dirty Japs own fault....

Posted by: oj at July 11, 2006 7:47 AM


Army studies showed they didn't even think we should be fighting the Germans.

Posted by: oj at July 11, 2006 7:51 AM

I'm not sure which camp it was (Buchenwald?) but after seeing the results of the holocaust Eisenhower offhandedly said to an American soldier "Do you still have trouble hating them [the Germans]?

Posted by: George at July 11, 2006 7:23 PM