The Corner

Samir Kuntar, War Criminal

The story of Kuntar’s loathsome 2003 murders, which Andy posted below, prompts me again to point out that it just makes more sense to treat terrorists as prisoners of war — not according to every jot and tittle of the Geneva Conventions, but according to the general principles of customary international law. That does mean certain restrictions on interrogation and certain rights for the POWs, but as we’ve seen with our own Guantanamo follies, the democratic process in modern societies is going to require that terrorists are treated better than I’d like in any case — better than POWs, really.

But the advantage of according them POW status is that you’ll have much stronger political consensus within your society (and less squealing from abroad) to try and execute people like this monster as the war criminal that he is. In other words, we tell terrorists, “You call yourselves soldiers? Fine — we’ll judge you as soldiers.” They all get Red Cross packages, but the ones who smash in toddlers’ skulls, or shoot crippled old men and dump them out of their wheelchairs into the sea, or even those who simply gave the orders and took credit for blowing up Passover diners, are tried in a military court and shot. Who’s going to complain? These killers said they were soldiers and we just took them at their word.

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