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Guantanamo, and Fighting Fourth Generation Warfare By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The 5 - 4 Supreme Court of the United States decision in Boumediene et al v Bush, President of the United States, et al, announced June 12, 2008, has stirred up a predictable and diverse storm.  Even The Wall Street Journal, usually a model of editorial objectivity and reason, dramatically and sarcastically editorialized against the holding.  Suffice it to say that, upon the basis of reading the lengthy opinions in the case, as distinguished from also reading all the briefs and hearing oral argument, I very favorably evaluate the two Dissenting Opinions.

The problem is not the rationale of any opinion or the one-vote margin.   The problem is the imperative need for Administration leadership and Congressional legislation.

Free Congress Foundation’s William S. Lind, a military-history scholar recognized at home and abroad, some years ago defined the present state of conflict as “Fourth Generation” war.  In other words, warfare, hostilities, armed fighting - however one cares to term it - in relatively recent years has changed definitively since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.   Thereafter, sovereignties, states or nations, however one characterizes them, especially outside Africa, have fought one another (with, of course, some civil wars, rebellions and revolts), as contrasted with warfare principally between religions, ethnicities, clans and the like, all short of sovereign states.  Comes now Islamic extremism, however small as a percentile of the Moslem Faith it may be, although substantial in numbers, and one encounters hostilities from sources other than sovereignties.

Thus, we have the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay and a number of prisoners who are not United States citizens captured for the Fourth Generation warfare equivalent of hostilities against the United States. With that inevitably arise the difficult tasks of figuring how to investigate, interrogate and try these individuals. Because they have been denied the Great Writ, more formally known as the Writ of Habeas Corpus, and some have been imprisoned for years without trial (although apparently, by imprisonment criteria, well treated) objective critics - aye, and subjective agitators - of various motive are in full sway.

This Commentary is the medium to analyze neither the Supreme Court opinions nor (perhaps taking the easy way out) the details of necessary remedial Administration and Congressional action. The need has persisted, and grown, over the last several years.  It may not be too late but late it is.   The George W. Bush Administration and the Democratic Congress must get serious. The present undefined and unworkable impasse if continued inevitably will cause more, if differing, trouble. The security of Americans well may be in jeopardy.


Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.


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