Unconditional Surrender Leads to Atrocities
U.S. forces try to pacify Bagdad, the chaos and breakdown of civil
order which many predicted has been fulfilled. Looting and murder
have become common place, often right under the eyes of U.S. troops.
One particularly heinous example was the destruction of the National
Museum of Iraq, which the New York Times called "one
of the greatest cultural disasters in recent Middle Eastern history"
Strip Iraqi Museum of Its Treasure," April 12, 2003). Some
50,000 priceless artifacts, all thousands of years old, were either
destroyed or carried off by looters.
course, individuals are responsible for their own actions, but it
was the unconditional surrender demanded by the pentagon which made
these crimes possible. On April 1, for example, Donald Rumsfeld
declared at a Pentagon briefing that, "The only thing that
the coalition will discuss with this regime is their unconditional
moralists have long considered unconditional surrender as inherently
immoral. General Douglas MacArthur, a truly moral man, privately
opposed Roosevelt and Trumanís unconditional surrender policy for
months prior to the end of the Second World War, and eventually
defied Trumanís policy by announcing that he had accepted a surrender
with conditions. MacArthur had repeatedly warned Truman that insisting
on unconditional surrender was causing the needless deaths of tens
of thousands of Japanese and Allies.
unconditional surrender always leads to unnecessary casualties.
It is easy to illustrate this on a personal level. If you know that
you have no protections of things like the Geneva Convention but
are told you must surrender unconditionally, then you will fight
so long as there is a sliver of hope of survival. The same is true
of governments, U.S. rejection of any negotiated settlement with
Hussein and his government ensured that they had no choice but to
fight to the end. It made a surrender and orderly turn-over of the
targeting of the Iraqi leadership was part and parcel of the unconditional
surrender policy. Generally it is not a good idea to try to "decapitate"
the military or civilian leadership of an army, for the simple reason
that once you do that there is no one is left to negotiate a surrender,
which can end the fighting in the quickest and most orderly way.
have no idea what might have happened if the U.S. tried to negotiate
for the surrender of Bagdad instead of simply rushing in with tanks.
Instead of sending a B-1 to try to kill Hussein as U.S. troops approached
the city, what if the U.S. had stopped outside and offered to let
Hussein and his family go to Syria if he would surrender the city?
Maybe he would have surrendered and maybe he would not have, but
the U.S. position of unconditional surrender made the chaos following
U.S. entry into the city certain. How many hundreds of civilian
casualties would have been prevented from such a course? How many
thousands of priceless artifacts could have been saved?
doubt the Pentagon would argue that there is no way that Hussein
would ever surrender, but the Pentagon has consistently been wrong
on what Hussein would do. They thought he would torch all the Iraqi
oil wells, that he would blow up dams to flood the country, destroy
bridges everywhere, use chemical weapons and move most of his Republican
guard into Bagdad. In fact, none of these things were done. So it
is far from certain that a surrender of Bagdad could not have been
negotiated. But the Pentagon has showed no interest in negotiation.
Even when pentagon planners were predicting Hussein would concentrate
troops in Bagdad and force house to house fighting which would cost
thousands of civilian deaths, the pentagon repeatedly indicated
that it was willing to accept those deaths rather than negotiate
with Hussein. A policy which is willing to fight to the last civilian
death to avoid "negotiation" with someone American leadership
does not like, cannot possibly be defended as moral. But in fact,
that was clearly the American policy. The result was not quite that
bad, but it was bad enough, and equally indefensible.
Clark (send him mail) is
a veteran of Desert Storm and holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy. He is
currently Director of Coalition for Local Sovereignty in Washington.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com