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Don Can't Trump the Laws of War

I've been working on returning to the blogosphere with interesting bankruptcy stuff. Unfortunately, last Sunday's presidential debate irked my military historian. So, here's my damn fact-check and opinion.

On October 9, Donald Trump criticized Hillary Clinton again for disclosing her strategy against ISIS. He said that Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton are turning in their graves for this disclosure. Trump wants to take the enemy by total surprise. Trump's disdain for the rule law is revealed anew.

ISIS is dug into urban areas, hiding behind civilians. Advance notice to civilian populations of their occupying military operations' targets is generally required. See Geneva Convention and Hague Convention, Chapter IV, Art 57, ΒΆ (2)(c), US Field Manual (1956), US Air Force Pamphlet (1976), US Naval Handbook (2007).

On March 3, 2016, Mr. Trump said: "The problem is we have the Geneva Conventions, all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight." Mr. Trump apparently rejects the laws of war and human decency. If the U.S. is to remain great and be involved in international military operations, the laws of war must be honored. Becoming an outlaw is apparently how Mr. Trump intends to "make America great again."

Generals Patton and MacArthur are not turning in their graves. Neither of them were accused of the war crimes against non-combatants endorsed by Mr. Trump. Even Hiroshima and Nagasaki received advance notice of being targets of "the most destructive explosive ever devised by man."

Nor could Patton and MacArthur been as stealthy as Commander-in-Chief candidate Trump suggests. All of their operations took days, if not weeks, to position. Tank columns and fleet movements were easily visible to reconnaissance. Neither of them were foolish enough to think they were catching the enemy entirely off-guard.

Wayne M. Greenwald Wayne M. Greenwald
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