There are several ways to fight a war. On the one hand, you can put on a uniform, climb into a tank, rumble across a field and fire on the other fellows’ tank. On the other, you can find a 12-year-old girl, persuade her to try on your new suicide-bomber belt and send her waddling off into the nearest pizza parlor.
The Geneva Conventions were designed to encourage the former and discourage the latter. The thinking behind them was that, if one had to have wars, it’s best if they’re fought by soldiers and armies. In return for having a rank and serial number and dressing the part, you’ll be treated as a lawful combatant should you fall into the hands of the other side. There’ll always be a bit of skulking around in street garb among civilian populations, but the idea was to ensure that it would not be rewarded –that there would, in fact, be a downside for going that route.
The U.S. Supreme Court has now blown a hole in the animating principle behind the Geneva Conventions by choosing to elevate an enemy that disdains the laws of war in order to facilitate the bombing of civilian targets and the beheading of individuals. The argument made by Justice John Paul Stevens is an Alice-In-Jihadland ruling that stands the Conventions on their head in order to give words the precise opposite of their plain meaning and intent. The same kind of inspired jurisprudence conjuring trick that detected in the emanations of the penumbra how the Framers of the U..S Constitution cannily anticipated a need for partial-birth abortion and gay marriage has now effectively found a right to jihad — or, if you’re a female suicide bomber about to board an Israeli bus, a woman’s right to Jews.
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