Carson: There Should Be No Laws of War

As he prepares to run for the Republican nomination for president, Ben Carson seems to be getting dumber and more ridiculous by the day. In a Fox News interview, he said we need to send in ground troops to fight ISIS and that there should be no laws of war like the Geneva Conventions.

In a Fox News interview, Carson offered a broad criticism President Obama’s handling of national security. Asked how he would take on ISIS were he president, the neurosurgeon vowed he would “not hesitate to put boots on the ground.” He then suggested that the military should not be micromanaged or subject to any war crimes law:

CARSON: Our military needs to know that they’re not gonna be prosecuted when they come back, because somebody has, said “You did something that was politically incorrect.” There is no such thing as a politically correct war. We need to grow up, we need to mature. If you’re gonna have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says no war. Other than that, we have to win. Our life depends on it.

So then he’s perfectly okay if another country tortures our soldiers, right? That’s one of the most basic laws of war. He’s okay if other countries violate the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of POWs they take in war, right? Oh, I’m sure the answer is no. That’s what American exceptionalism really means — we demand that everyone else follow the rules but we can do whatever the hell we want without consequences. It’s the sort of thing a child demands, not a serious adult.

And this notion that this has anything to do with being “politically correct” is total bullshit. Soldiers are court-martialed for violating the laws of war by the military. He should go ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff what they think about war crimes and why they have rules forbidding many types of conduct. I bet he’d get an earful about why he’s completely full of shit.

httpv://youtu.be/My0kvDzYOmI

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • gshelley

    I’m sure he has no objection to chemical or biological weapons either

  • Mr Ed

    A military unfettered by rules or repercussions of war would be indistinguishable from ISIS

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    To be fair, he’s confusing the military with a pack of rabid dogs.

  • John Pieret

    Modus:

    To be even fairer, he is not confusing the people he is pandering to with a pack of rabid dogs.

  • dugglebogey

    This not mere ideological stupidity. This demonstrates juvenile ignorance. Not just an inability to logically think through your arguments, but an unwillingness to consider the consequences of your actions at a fundamental level.

    Anyone who considers someone like this capable of a leadership role in anything including a girl scout troop is an utter fool.

  • keithb

    My son and I had a good discussion about the first execution of the prisoner in Fury. I wonder what Ben thinks about that scene?

  • abb3w

    Maybe Ben Carson is hinting he wants Allen West as a running mate?

    Contrariwise, I’m pretty cynical about the “laws of war” myself; they seem a loose fiction of international diplomacy. Nohow, I don’t think they’re a bad fiction.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    More to the point: Does he really think he stands a chance of getting the Republican nomination with this weak-kneed, surrender-happy, hippy talk?

  • scienceavenger

    So then he’s perfectly okay if another country tortures our soldiers, right? That’s one of the most basic laws of war. He’s okay if other countries violate the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of POWs they take in war, right? Oh, I’m sure the answer is no.

    Argumentum ad speculatum, something what we rightly criticize others for. For all you know Carson would say “Yes, that’s part of war”. There’s no need to stoop to that in this target-rich factual environment, as others here have demonstrated, most notably on the subject of chemical and biological weapons. Rule-free war would ultimately mean no war by virtue of there being no people.

  • eric

    We need to grow up, we need to mature. If you’re gonna have rules for war, you should just have a rule that says no war. Other than that, we have to win.

    And here I thought setting limits on violent conflict was growing up.

  • sundoga

    I hate to point this out, Ed, but since when has our following the Geneva and Hague Conventions STOPPED other countries from torturing and abusing our soldiers? Germany in WWII had a good run…until the end, when they ordered all POW’s killed rather than see them liberated by advancing allied forces. Thankfully, many of the camp commandants refused that order, and many had already been rescued.

    Japan abused our soldiers. China and North Korea abused our soldiers. North Vietnam abused our soldiers (though to be fair, South Vietnam was doing the same to theirs). Panama murdered some of our soldiers before we invaded the place.

    And of late, we haven’t been following them anyway. Abu Ghraib, anybody?

    The G&H conventions have become a sick joke. Maybe it would be better to simply scrap them, rather than pretending to follow them in a half-assed manner that just restricts our soldiers’ options and does nothing for anyone unfortunate enough to be captured.

  • busterggi

    Hooray! Carson has come out in favor of beheading captured prisoners – who said the Inquisition was over.

  • colnago80

    Boots on the ground. What a great idea. Worked so well in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. What could go wrong?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    sundoga “The G&H conventions have become a sick joke. Maybe it would be better to simply scrap them, rather than pretending to follow them in a half-assed manner that just restricts our soldiers’ options…”

    [lengthy pause]

    Just whats our soldiers whats now?

     

    “And of late, we haven’t been following them anyway. Abu Ghraib, anybody?”

    Even granting that the rules didn’t prevent Abu Ghraib, how does abandoning them prevent the next one?

     

    “…and does nothing for anyone unfortunate enough to be captured.”

    We’re supposed to be the Good Guys. That’s what it says on the box (“Contents: 1 Good Guys w/helmet, rifle, Real-Action Rifle™, radio and little national flag.”). That the other side not infreqently treats Us Good Guys poorly is a terrible reason to abandon our codified ideals about not treating them poorly, even if we’re terrible at reaching for those ideals and quickly abandon them when we get scared, feeling bad about it afterwards but not bad enough to do anything about ensuring we don’t leave them behind the next time.

  • dhall

    As Modus says, basically, to fight the monster, you must not become the monster. It’s not always easy to maintain the ideals that took well over a century of hard experience to codify in the Geneva Conventions, and not everyone can maintain those ideals all of the time, but dispensing with them would be a mistake.

  • moarscienceplz

    let’s give ol’ Ben a rifle and have him patrol in Afghanistan for a couple of months. That might change his tune a trifle.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    He’s in favor of ISIS burning pilots to death when they’re captured!? Talk about soft on terror!

  • samgardner

    I’m sure he’s also in favor of countries simply not accepting a notion of “surrender”. The winning side should just completely wipe out the other country. If they’re a country. Or just anyone who happens to be in the way.

    And just to note scienceavenger’s argumentum ad speculatum argument — yeah, I think he might legitimately be in favor of it, and that makes him consistent but a monster. Or he’s not in favor of it, which makes him either a sloppy, thoughtless speaker or a hypocrite.

  • otrame

    Even back in the days before international rules about war, people had figured out that there are reasons to treat prisoners of war well and to not kill them out of hand. I read a book written by one of the men that was with Santa Ana when he took San Antonio from the Texans and killed everyone who resisted. He noted, among other things, that about 30 of those who were in the Alamo surrendered and were then killed, including Crocket. He gave an eloquent discussion of the reason why this was a bad thing. It had nothing to do with political correctness, or even altruism. It is because you want to leave your enemy the option of surrendering. You want them to quit. If they know that you will kill them if they surrender, they keep fighting. At the very least, more of your own men will die in the continued fighting, but worse, they might end up winning. If an early 19th century Mexican officer is able to understand how stupid and short-sighted it is to mistreat prisoners of war, it is a little sad that a 21st century doctor can’t. .

  • marcus

    Yeah! What Modus said!

    I would have said the same thing if I was smart enough. (I think.)

  • cconti

    The Japanese pulled that in WWII. Their excuse was that although they signed the Geneva convention, they never ratified it.

    Let’s ask this idiot if he remember what happened to the Japanese, not only about the nukes, but the many officers with life sentences and some that ended up swinging off a rope.

    What an inane comment. And this guy thinks he can lead the free world?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    But y’all just don’t understand –

    … we have to win. Our life depends on it.

    – Dr. Carson is really scared!!!

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Uh, what do the Geneva and Hague conventions prescribe for html failure?

  • grumpyoldfart

    He knows he can win votes with that kind of talk. Doesn’t say much about the intelligence or morality of his audience – but that’s how it goes in America these days.

  • http://saltycurrent.blogspot.com SC (Salty Current)

    A military unfettered by rules or repercussions of war would be indistinguishable from ISIS

    Or the CIA, for that matter.

  • marcus

    Pierce @23 It ain’t pretty!

  • bahrfeldt

    It is not going to be his sons’ boots on the ground.

  • notruescott

    Since I had my car stereo stolen last week, I don’t see why I should have to be saddled with a bunch of laws. It’s just common sense.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    It is not going to be his sons’ boots on the ground.

    With the mechanization of modern warfare, it makes sense to send older men to fight. You know how politicians are all about protecting the kids? They should go do the getting shot at. It’d sure make them less interested in wars.

  • dan4

    “There is no such thing as a politically correct war.” Considering his larger thesis, this is a baffling inclusion. Is he really suggesting that all wars America has fought in,post-Geneva Convetions,” have not been “real” wars?

  • lorn

    While I don’t object to rules, active management of issues is always preferable to leaving things to God, I don’t think rules count for much. Generally the rules are written, interpreted and enforced by the powers that be to benefit those powers.

    The assumed beneficial reign of the rules controlling nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, such as it is, has been more a matter of the cost and ineffectiveness of those weapons, not a fear of rules being enforced or organizations being embarrassed. Those weapons are very expensive, and/or ineffective, and/or as likely to hurt the user as the target.

    Chemical weapons are cheap to manufacture but hard to disperse efficiently and are usually no more effective than a similar weight of explosive warheads well delivered.

    Nuclear weapons are frightfully expensive but they are actually less effective than a similar dollar amount of conventional warheads well delivered. The US, and most western nations, have shifted from nuclear weapons to precision conventional warheads. A 500 pound conventional warhead delivered within a few feet of a target is easily as effective as a kiloton level nuclear weapon delivered a few hundred meters away.

    Radiological weapons, dirty bombs, are cheaper but also less effective at causing direct harm than they are as area denial weapons. Wealthy nations are not as tied to particular areas as are poorer and more religiously motivated nations. The functions of Wall Street and The White House can be functionally reproduced electronically. Mecca cannot be done without because the site itself is holy.

    Biological weapons are cheap, sometimes referred to as the poor man’s nuke, but they are essentially impossible to predict or control and likely to be more effective against the same poor nations or groups likely to manufacture and use them than the wealthy nations who can avoid the effects.

    I have a hard time finding a historic example of any nation or group avoiding use of any weapon of tactic that seemed highly likely to benefit their cause. Wanting to use any particular weapon or tactic powerful nations rewrite the rules or carve out an exception. Poorer nations do the same thing but cite existential risk. Either way, the dirty deeds get done and the world spins on.

  • sundoga

    cconti @21 – actually, the Japanese never signed any of the conventions, let alone ratifying them. They still haven’t, though a case could be made they accepted the terms of them when they joined the UN.

  • dingojack

    Pierce R. Butler (#23) – Spandau Ballet (on loop)…

    Bwhahahahaha…

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    So Carson, no rules in war eh? Hijacking a passenger jet and crashing it into a skyscraper is perfectly fine then?

    Good to know which ‘side’ you’re on. @@

    Dingo

  • eric

    lorn @31:

    I have a hard time finding a historic example of any nation or group avoiding use of any weapon of tactic that seemed highly likely to benefit their cause.

    Then you aren’t looking very hard. Basically every first world nation has given up the use of mines, except the US and S. Korea. Mines are a very effective ‘weapon or tactic’ for area denial.

    Moreover I think you discount CW too much. Saddam used it to pacify Kurdish villages. The Russians used a fentanyl compound against Chechens in the 2002 Moscow theater crisis. Tear gas is still issued to police. Without the CWC, IMO modern armies absolutely would keep and use CW. True, it would be a fairly narrow-use weapon that would only deployed in limited circumstances, where they thought it would be effective, but it woud definitely be “an arrow in the quiver” so to speak. Consider, as an analogy, the fact that we haven’t fought a dogfight (jet-on-jet combat) in probably 10-15 years, but we spend a lot of money building and maintaining that capability. The point being that the fact that CW has only narrow and limited effectiveness in specific situations is not the reason we don’t keep it around. The CWC is.

  • anubisprime

    Such forward thinking would finally enable all those nukes festering in silo’s, on rocket launchers and in storage to be put to good use…a short and shrifty 25 kt intercontinental up Ben’s bum might conceivably force a rethink, or maybe not cos brainiac would just be floating atoms after that demonstration…along with a few million by standers of course…but hey can’t make omelets without cracking eggs!

  • dingojack

    lorn – “Wealthy nations are not as tied to particular areas as are poorer and more religiously motivated nations. The functions of Wall Street and The White House can be functionally reproduced electronically.”

    And how, pray tell, does one reproduce electronically the US’s ‘bread basket’? I think you need to think about it some more.

    Dingo

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    Yeah, you can bet that George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt weren’t a bunch of pussies when it came to prisoners of war, especially when the other side was mistreating our people!

    “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.“ — G. Washington

    “The president desires to know in the fullest and most circumstantial manner all the facts, … for the very reason that the president intends to back up the Army in the heartiest fashion in every lawful and legitimate method of doing its work; he also intends to see that the most vigorous care is exercised to detect and prevent any cruelty or brutality and that men who are guilty thereof are punished. Great as the provocation has been in dealing with foes who habitually resort to treachery, murder and torture against our men, nothing can justify or will be held to justify the use of torture or inhuman conduct of any kind on the part of the American Army.” — T. Roosevelt

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @sundoga

    It’s helped some. Something is better than nothing.

    @otrame @ 19

    Bravo!

  • sundoga

    Well, I suppose that’s true enough.

  • lorn

    dingojack @37: No, I really don’t.

    The DoD studied the issue in the 50s. The key aspect was that the area was so great it would take a huge amount of radiological contaminate to have any major effect and dispersion would involve either a long term concerted effort, crop dusting was suggested as a model, or, with explosive dispersion, a few areas of high contamination and the remainder largely untouched.

    To seriously contaminate Wall Street area you are only working with a square mile, at most. Mecca, one square mile would handle the core area and a considerable distance extra. To seriously make a dent in farmland you need to meaningfully contaminate thousands of square miles. We are talking many tons of contaminate delivered by hundreds of planes over months of effort.

    Looking it up the DoA lists farm land as over 900,000,000 acres. Let’s say you want to get at least half that area, so 450,000,000 acres. Assume the minimum dose is 1 gram per acre. Divided by 454 to get pounds = 991189.4 pounds, or 495.6 tons, of contaminate. That is going to mean you need 12 semis carrying 40 tons each of whatever you want to use.

    All very possible if you get Doctor Evil to get his thousands of minions to crop dust the land with hundreds of invisible airplanes over the period of a few months.

    It isn’t as if it hasn’t been thought of in fiction. It is right up there with poisoning the water supply. It sounds possible until you run a few back of the envelope numbers.

    It also pays to remember that none of us live in an entirely pristine environment. Everyone gets a bit of radiation daily. Start spreading contaminates around and you are going to have to exceed the background before anyone can detect it. You will also need to be careful about what you use. You want to be able to get it cheap. It needs a good long half-life and it might help if it was at least partially water soluble, but not too soluble. It is a tough choice.

  • caseloweraz

    Pierce R. Butler: Uh, what do the Geneva and Hague conventions prescribe for HTML failure?

    No worries; if anyone starts going after invalid HTML, it will be decades before they get around to such as you or I.

  • caseloweraz

    Otrame:

    I’ll second the “Bravo!” for your #19. The only thing I’d quibble with is this:

    If an early 19th century Mexican officer is able to understand how stupid and short-sighted it is to mistreat prisoners of war, it is a little sad that a 21st century doctor can’t.

    No; it’s far more than a little sad.

  • caseloweraz

    Eric: Then you aren’t looking very hard. Basically every first world nation has given up the use of mines, except the US and S. Korea. Mines are a very effective ‘weapon or tactic’ for area denial.

    Yes they are. They are very effectively denying large areas to civilians all over the world.

    When mines are invented which can prevent civilian injuries and deaths, I will applaud the U.S. for being exceptional in the way you point out here.