Geneva rules are vital to us all

[Originally appeared in The Gazette April 22, 2010 Re: “It isn’t easy to fight clean” (Opinion, April 20).]

Stanley Taube does what he accuses winners of wars of doing: writes his own version of what really happened. The Second World War did not spell “finis” to the Geneva rules, as Taube claims. In fact, it was the human atrocities of that war that led the world community to update the three original treaties of the Geneva Conventions and negotiate a fourth covering the treatment of civilians.

The conventions are critical to all of us, whether we’re on the battlefield or not. The Second World War’s shocking awakening finally gave us the collective ability to see how we got there, and how to not get there again. We saw that each war, each conflict planted the seeds for the next one. We saw that every injustice feeds a thousand injustices, feeds a thousand conflicts. We said “Enough.” The Geneva Conventions, the UN, UNICEF, UNESCO and other international bodies were created, so we can build the human spirit rather than crush it. To lack this understanding of “what really happened” is dangerous.

If this still isn’t clear, I’ll bring it back to what our Canadian soldiers face (I served as an infantry officer some years go): If you have 100 Afghans in front of you, one of whom you know is a combatant, you have one enemy. You ignore the Geneva Conventions and mistreat them all, you now have 400 enemies – them and their families.

As a former soldier, I’ll take one enemy instead of 400.

That’s the only winning strategy.

Mark Khoury
Montreal

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