Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Colleen Wright
PORTALES – While ethics in war is always shrouded in shades of gray, one thing that is clear is that Iraq has violated the Geneva Accords in its treatment of prisoners of war (POW), according to Dr. Donald Elder, chair of the Department of History at Eastern New Mexico University.
The Geneva Accords is an agreement signed in 1949 to enforce ethical rules during time of war. "The agreement specifies what kind of actions are permissible," the history professor explains. "For example, soldiers may not use civilian cars or dress in civilian cloths. You can use booby traps to attack enemy soldiers, but not landmines which may harm civilians."
The first day the POWs were captured in Iraq they were put on national television and interrogated. "In my opinion this was a good example of humiliation, something they are not supposed to be doing," says Dr. Elder. The Geneva Accords is specific with regard to the treatment of POWs. In World War II, as well as in Viet Nam, American prisoners were paraded up and down the streets.
You can not publicly humiliate POWs," says Dr. Elder. "I think it is clear the Iraqis have been in violation of the accords from day one of this war."
Dr. Dale Davis, ENMU marketing professor, is in agreement with Dr. Elder about the violation of the accord. "It's been my experience with war that U.S. forces in general attempt to behave in a civilized manner. Others have not, such as China, Japan, Korea and Viet Nam."
Dr. Davis feels the Iraqis are really crossing the line when they dress in civilian clothing to trick U.S. troops. "The sad thing about this is it makes it more of a risk of civilians getting killed. In my opinion, though, that is what the Iraqis want.
"Any way you look at it one thing is certain," Dr. Davis says. "In the words of William Sherman, 'War is hell, war is hell on earth.'"