In a recent post (1/25) I mentioned a CNN discussion involving Christiane Amanpour, Phillippe Sand and Marc Thiessen on the subject of the handling of illegal enemy combatants. I neglected to mention a mindless comment (too many to track) made during the telecast by the buffoonish Sand. At one point he was asked about President Obama's failure to close the Guantanamo prison camp within a year as promised. With remarkable insight into the jihadist mind, Sand assured us not to worry. Islamists see Obama's intention to close the camp as a good faith gesture and they won't hold the delay against us. That's a relief, to be sure. The prison camp is a recruiting tool you see.
Put aside that Gitmo's actual closing will be far in the future, if ever. And never mind that Obama has committed to maintaining the much larger Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan (close to 700 inmates) and prohibited lawyers from representing any of its prisoners (unlike at Gitmo). Disregard also that Obama has greatly expanded the use of predator drones in Pakistan with their high civilian to combatant kill ratio. Incinerating innocent civilians is somehow preferable to confining murderous terrorists in what AG Eric Holder acknowledges is an exemplary prison. Pay no attention either to Obama's plan to move a significant portion of the remaining Guantanamo inmates to a retrofitted prison in Thomson, Illinois. That will change nothing about their incarceration except the comfort level of their winters.
These are inconvenient facts for Euro-leftists (and others) like Sand who continue their crusade to have George Bush and some officials in his administration declared war criminals. The ideologues who excoriate Bush while giving Obama a free pass are transparently hypocritical. But there's another left wing cohort that superficially at least appears to hold to a higher moral standard. These are "human rights" advocates who oppose any action that may involve "excessive" civilian casualties. One such is Gabor Rona, international legal director of the U.S. based group Human Rights First. "Even when you're attacking a legitimate military objective, you cannot cause civilian casualties that exceed the value of a legitimate military attack," he declares. Clearly, even Obama is guilty by this measure. So were the Allies in World War 2. Roosevelt, Truman and Churchill were contemptible war criminals by the Rona standard.
Contravening the validity of this standard are the following. First, most collateral civilian casualties of anti-terror military campaigns result from the terrorists' tactic of surrounding themselves with women and children. Second is international law. The Geneva Convention states that, "The presence of a protected person [civilian] may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." Indeed, hiding behind the cover of the civilian population is itself considered a war crime.
No matter. The Israeli military (to cite one example) is to blame for civilian casualties in its 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. This despite taking extraordinary steps to safeguard innocent lives at the expense of jeopardizing the lives of Israeli soldiers and the success of its mission.
But back to the ludicrous contention that the spread of Islamic radicalism is facilitated by the aggressiveness of our efforts to eradicate it. Were this so, the Iraq surge was doomed to fail as Muslims, outraged by our intensified warmaking, rushed to join the insurgency. In reality, even Sunni Muslims flocked to our side, convinced that we were serious about winning the war.
As Charles Krauthammer has noted,
Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa commanding universal jihad against America cited as its two top grievances our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraqi suffering under anti-Saddam sanctions.
Well, both of those grievances have been satisfactorally addressed by our success in the Iraq war. The fatwa remains. It doesn't matter how we try to appease radical Islamists, they'll always have grievances against the West to use as "recruiting tools".
Ayman al-Zawahiri often invokes Andalusia in his speeches. For those not steeped in the multivolume lexicon of Islamist grievances, Andalusia refers to Iberia, lost by Islam to Christendom — in 1492.
The mere existence of Western style democracy is what drives the jihad. Islamists hate our open society, tolerance of diversity and political freedom. Even if this were not true, it would be absurd to allow our enemies to dictate how we execute our war against them. Equally absurd is taking seriously the phony moralistic posturings of the likes of Phillippe Sand and Gabor Rona.