Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Modern Rules of War

When, exactly, did Amnesty International become recognized experts on what constitutes "war crimes?" On a related note, it is now, apparently, a "war crime" to target infrastructure. (I suppose it is a good thing that this was not the rule when NATO reduced Serbia to rubble.)

In my freshmen year of college I joined the college chapter of Amnesty International and dutifully wrote my letters to beg for the freedom of political prisoners. In fairness, who wouldn't want to work for the release of those who are imprisoned solely for their beliefs?

The problem is that Amnesty's definition of "political prisoner" is so broad as to be meaningless. This become startlingly clear to me when I found Mumia Abu Jamal on the list. It dawned on me that I was taking Amnesty's word for it that the persons they identified as "political prisoners" were not merely criminals like Mumia. I never wrote another letter or attended another gathering.

Amnesty wants the world to take notice of their findings and sanction Israel for "war crimes." What gives the organization any credibility to make such determinations?

Historically, infrastructure was considered fair game in a conflict. How could it be otherwise? Our own interstate road system was designed for the rapid movement of men and materials throughout North America during the Cold War. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a standing road or other piece of infrastructure that would not be adapted to military use during conflict. It is likewise difficult to imaging an opponent failing to take out that infrastructure, if given the opportunity.

Jeff... You have talked a lot about the changing nature of conflict and I think you are getting at the guerilla war as being the future of human conflict. God I hope not; if so, we can't seriously restrict opponents from destrying infrastructure or identify such actions as "war crimes," for, if they are "war crimes," then what isn't?

Or... maybe that is Amnesty International's point.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?