For those of you who know me or this column you might be shocked at this assertion. Especially when it comes to agreeing with anything the latest Bush administration did. But you are going to have to bear with me while we separate the logic and rational.
Here is the link to the news story if you haven’t read it. http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/declassified/archive/2010/02/19/report-bush-lawyer-said-president-could-order-civilians-to-be-massacred.aspx
Basically this guy, John Woo, was one of the culprits that wrote a legal argument in favor of letting the CIA torture prisoners. Now to that end I have found nothing to support any current doctrine. However, during an interview where Woo was questioned about his perspective on presidential powers in regard to the role of “commander in chief”, he was asked if the president “had the right to order the extermination of an entire village”. Woo answered in the affirmative a couple of times.
"What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? ... Is that a power that the president could legally—""Yeah," Yoo replied
This statement is absolutely right. Not only is it a correct statement, but precedence has been set long before Curious George Jr. was an itch in his daddy’s pants. At the very least, from the moment we took to the air and started bombing cities, the destruction and extermination of a village has been acceptable. The siege of cities has been accepted tactics of war probably since the beginning of time. The US was forged from the destruction and annihilation of Native American Indian villages.
As an example, the atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki an Hiroshima did not simply destroy military targets and enemy soldiers. Currently we have nuclear weapons pointed at targeted cities around the world. These would surely whip out entire “villages”.
Likewise, I can not be a hypocrite. I have always asserted that the way we should have dealt with Osama Bin Laden and his clan was to not publically acknowledge we suspected him. An intelligence gathering entity should have been activated first. Then a small strike force (preferably dressed in Pakistani attire) should have been sent in to extinguish the threat. We should have denied involvement. Every time one of these camps popped up, the operation should have been repeated. However, in the detailed scheme of things, these “training camps” function like “villages”. Children not even in their teens are being trained and capable of putting up a defense. It may have been necessary to remove them as a threat as well. This is why accurate and complete intelligence is crucial before any activity that takes a human life is implemented.
The reality about this statement is that the context of “exterminating a village” drums up images of soldiers with machine guns going door to door killing all the occupants. The ignorance of human nature sees this as different then a blanket bomb massacring the residents from a distance. The reality is that it isn’t. Maybe on the psyche of the people doing the killing it is different, but the result to the targets are still the same. Heck, bombing might be worse as it is not as thorough.
Now, all that said. “Legal” and “precedential” doesn’t make something “right” or “rational”. I have always said that it is imperative that acts of war or violence must be only used as a measure of last resort. Nothing that the Bush administration did in Iraq (or Afghanistan for that matter) was the acts of last resort. This blog is punctuated with what the ingredients that made up the attacks on 9-11 that should have been considered before it got to that point. Many of the decision made afterwards were unscrupulous and malice as well. The same could or has been said about many other history’s attacks on civilization. The way to avoid the need to “exterminate an entire village” is to understand that which drives men to hate each other.