Posted By lex, on March 9th, 2011
The writers of the WSJ editorial page welcome President Obama’s adoption of Bush-era anti-terror policies such as detentions in Guantanamo and the resumption of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. Those these policies run directly against candidate Obama’s stated position this movement, the paper concludes, represents the education of a man into the responsibilities of power, and the dangers of the world.
But they do have some objections:
The other note of trouble is Mr. Obama’s decision, also announced yesterday, to treat as legally binding part of a radical 1977 revision to the 1949 Geneva Conventions known as Article 75 of Additional Protocol 1. President Reagan repudiated Protocol 1 in 1987 because it vitiated the distinction between lawful and unlawful enemy combatants. Terrorists fight out of uniform and target civilians and thus do not deserve traditional prisoner-of-war protections. This was the two-decade political consensus until the Bush Presidency. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post editorialized in favor of Reagan’s Protocol 1 decision.
Our guess is that Mr. Obama has adopted this part of Protocol 1 to appease the domestic left and especially the “international community” that will be dismayed by his new embrace of Gitmo and George W. Bush’s policies. Remember the moralizing Europeans? (See here.) Mr. Obama is nonetheless complicating the task of U.S. terror fighters, and encouraging further barbarism, by extending the laws of war to terrorists who hold combat restrictions in contempt.
I don’t know that such a sop will win him many friends on the domestic left. But it could well earn him a degree of contempt from those heroes forced to labor under dangerous circumstances in the dark and dirty holes of our civilizational seams.
Under no circumstances have terrorists earned the right to be protected as lawful combatants, the very idea is an affront to those professionally restrained by the law of armed conflict.
Update: The NYT, on the other hand, puts a brave face on a bad situation –
The prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has long been the embodiment of Bush-era arrogance and lawlessness, and Barack Obama raised the hopes of millions around the world in 2008 when he campaigned on the promise of closing it. On Monday, that promise crumbled, the victim of Congressional spinelessness and President Obama’s inability to create political support for a way out of the moral quagmire created by his predecessor.
Coughing up that much bile can’t be good for your enamel.