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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The U.S. military on Wednesday arrested a wife and a daughter of a top Saddam Hussein deputy suspected of leading the anti-American insurgency.
MacDonald gave no details on why the wife and daughter were seized, but American forces have frequently arrested relatives of fugitives to interrogate them on their family member's whereabouts and as a way of putting pressure on the wanted men to surrender.

The media director of the Amnesty International USA, Alistair Hodgett, questioned the tactic, saying if the women were arrested to pressure al-Douri to turn himself in, they were being used as "bargaining chips.''
-- AP

Billmon points out:
Would it have killed the AP to maybe just mention -- suitably buried somewhere down near the end of the story -- that taking hostages is, technically speaking, forbidden by the Geneva Convention?

The whole business really bothers me--a lot. If you've ever read some of the history of World War II, you know that millions of people in Europe (and elsewhere) were caught between armies and loyalties. The Ukraine, for instance, had experienced some of the most brutal of Stalin's purges during the 1930's. When the Germans and their axis allies invaded in 1941, many Ukrainians greeted them as liberators, while others remained loyal to the Soviet Union and resisted. Probably the majority of the population had little use for either Nazis or Soviets, just wishing to be left alone. Unfortunately, both sides tended to think like Bush does: you're either for us or against us. Being loyal to whoever controlled your territory for the moment could buy you some little bit of security, although you could still be killed by those who considered you a traitor or collaborator. This all could change daily with the fortunes of war, and it did in some areas. To me, this is one of the cruelest things war does to people: it requires them to choose sides, even to the point of turning on their own friends or relatives, and either when neither side is entitled to their loyalty (as is pretty clearly the case in Iraq; the moral high ground stays unoccupied while the Saddamists and the Bushists are wallowing in the evil mud).

I was rewatching Band of Brothers, the HBO/Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg production about the experiences of the Airborne Easy Company from D-Day through VE day in 1944-45. One segment shows the troops liberating a town in Holland. While most of the townsfolk are celebrating and welcoming the American soldiers, others are dragging out women who had slept with the Germans and shaving their heads in order to humiliate them. I'm sure many families were faced with shortages and potential starvation under German occupation, and many of these women slept with the Germans in order to get additional rations for their families. War forces people into impossible choices, even worse, in my opinion, than does a simple totalitarian system. To me, that is why anyone who starts a war by choice is probably the worst type of criminal there is. Perhaps George W. Bush should have his head shaved and be forced to walk the streets of Iraq, and face the jeers of those whose lives he has ruined.