December 18, 2015

Trump urges collective punishment - a war crime under Geneva Convention

Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast - In a season full of comments we never thought we’d hear during a modern American presidential campaign, this one, spoken at the debate Tuesday night by of course Donald Trump, is arguably the most shocking: “I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.”

It’s not the first time Trump has said it, but it hasn’t gotten the focus it deserves. This idea of punishing or somehow threatening the family members of criminals has a name. It’s called collective punishment. And it has a history, which as you’d imagine is not pretty—think, oh, Stalin, for starters. And finally it has a status in international law. Under the Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is a war crime.

Collective punishment can take and has taken different forms. It doesn’t have to mean family members. In many cases it has meant the relocation/eradication of entire villages in response to rebellious or perceived treasonous acts by a few. It might also mean a kind of generalized and indiscriminate violence visited upon a population. Scholars debate, but surely Southerners would all agree, that William Tecumseh Sherman engaged in collective punishment during his infamous March to the Sea. You know, the one through that state, Georgia, where in the latest poll Trump holds a 27-point lead.

But in many cases, it does refer to families. Trump’s antecedents here are chilling. The Nazis used collective punishment against Poles and others who harbored Jews. The website of Yad Vashem tells the horrifying story of the Ulma family, who hid a Jewish family on their farm in 1942. They got ratted out, and the entire family, including six living children and one more in utero, was shot.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what to make of Trump.

Sometimes, I think he is doing the whole thing as a joke. And when he gets nominated, in his "acceptance" speech he will say, "look, I am not going to run. I just did this to see if the American people were really that stupid. It turns out that they are. I hereby renounce my citizenship, I am getting the hell out of here."

Anonymous said...

Nah, Trump's a psychopath, shielded from diagnosis by his wealth (as are just about all wealthy psychopaths, which is to say just about all the wealthy individuals who "earned" their money on the backs of other people).

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 18Dec 06:45
One would only hope...