Thursday, 21 January 2016

War Crimes

Been seeing some really nasty stuff on Facebook about the Alexander Blackman case - the UK soldier who killed a captured and injured Taliban who no longer posed a threat.

If your country is a member of NATO or a signatory to the Geneva Convention, there are rules of engagement - regardless of whether the people you are fighting are Geneva Convention signatories or not. That's what you sign up to when you join the Army, take it or leave it. Contravene the rules and you take a known risk.

Now had a German done the same to a British solder in WWII, if caught, he'd have been swinging on the end of a rope at Nuremberg for a war crime, and no-one in the UK would have batted an eyelid. A Brit does it and there's uproar. I find that somewhat incongruous.

What's in question here is whether war should mean total war, with all the horrors that entails for non-combatants as well as combatants. Of course when fighting extremists you can't expect them to adhere to any rules of engagement, especially when it's their country you're fighting in. However, I've yet to hear of a case of a terrorist in a civil engagement in Europe being shot out of hand by, for example, the police when captured and incapacitated and no longer posing a direct threat, and that's analogous to a battlefield situation.

It's apparent that this disregard for the rules of engagement is not the norm within our armed forces and the vast majority of British combatants manage to adhere to them. A small minority, for whatever reason, do not or cannot. Some of those simply don't get caught contravening the rules, Should those who are caught be censured for that inability? Analyse and discuss.

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