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The Enemy in Our Hands

The Enemy in Our Hands: America's Treatment of Prisoners of War from the Revolution to the War on Terror

Robert C. Doyle
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 488
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    The Enemy in Our Hands
    Book Description:

    Revelations of abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison and the U.S. detention camp at Guantánamo Bay had repercussions extending beyond the worldwide media scandal that ensued. The controversy surrounding photos and descriptions of inhumane treatment of enemy prisoners of war, or EPWs, from the war on terror marked a watershed momentin the study of modern warfare and the treatment of prisoners of war. Amid allegations of human rights violations and war crimes, one question stands out among the rest: Was the treatment of America's most recent prisoners of war an isolated event or part of a troubling and complex issue that is deeply rooted in our nation's military history?Military expert Robert C. Doyle's The Enemy in Our Hands: America's Treatment of Prisoners of War from the Revolution to the War on Terror draws from diverse sources to answer this question. Historical as well as timely in its content, this work examines America's major wars and past conflicts -- among them, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and Vietnam -- to provide understanding of the UnitedStates' treatment of military and civilian prisoners. The Enemy in Our Hands offers a new perspective of U.S. military history on the subject of EPWs and suggests that the tactics employed to manage prisoners of war are unique and disparate from one conflict tothe next. In addition to other vital information, Doyle provides a cultural analysis and exploration of U.S. adherence to international standards of conduct, including the 1929 Geneva Convention in each war. Although wars are not won or lost on the basis of how EPWs are treated, the treatment of prisoners is one of the measures by which history's conquerors are judged.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7383-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Arnold Krammer

    Winston Churchill said it best: “A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.”* That is the precise situation prisoners have faced in every war: how can one survive capture when killing is the goal?

    Since biblical times the fate of prisoners of war has been precarious. Ernst Jünger, a former German officer who was wounded and decorated countless times in front-line action during World War I, describes the dangers involved in the moment of capture: “The defending force, after driving their bullets into the attacking one...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Introduction: The Enemy: Imposing the Condition of Captivity
    (pp. 1-10)

    In war, the opposing side cannot be an individual with a personal history or even a personality. The enemy is a soldier tasked to destroy the force facing him. He wears the uniform of his country, bears his country’s arms legally, and is usually well trained in military arts, including the art of killing. The enemy might be a man or a woman—gender matters very little—but as a soldier, this person represents a clear and present danger and must be vigorously opposed to the death. The enemy is absolutely evil, and few students of military history could or...

  7. One Prisoners of Independence: British and Hessian Enemy Prisoners of War
    (pp. 11-31)

    With the exception of spies such as British Major John André and some others, during the Revolution the Americans treated enemy prisoners of war (EPWs) relatively well. General George Washington made it known in letters to British General Lord William Howe that he considered it his duty to be humane and generous in his treatment of British and Hessian prisoners of war (POWs), and he often complained to Howe that Americans were not being treated with the same care. Writing to Howe on 23 September 1776, he noted that “during this unhappy contest, there be every exercise of humanity, which...

  8. Two Habeas Corpus: War against Loyalists and Quakers
    (pp. 32-48)

    The treatment of Loyalists and some Quakers was much harsher than that accorded to the British and Hessians who became EPWs of the Continental Army or state militias, in part because both groups were Americans. In terms of precedents, the Revolution set the stage for what would take place repeatedly in American military history: the United States treats foreign enemy prisoners of war humanely and in accordance with the rules of war that exist at the time; however, internal prisoners, especially Americans perceived as disloyal to cause and country, face a host of troubles. To understand the level of hatred...

  9. Three The Second American Revolution: Cartel and Enemy Prisoners of the War of 1812
    (pp. 49-68)

    When the Revolution ended in 1783, Americans believed the rest of the world would leave them alone. Issues such as banking and fiscal management of the American government commanded center stage; foreign trade and diplomacy fell a long way down the ladder of priorities. America needed a constitution, an army, a navy, taxation, and banking rules. There were other vital issues left on the table when the Revolution came to an end in 1783. Internally, how was the nation going to expand and grow into the Northwest Territories that several colonies had claimed? How was it going to deal with...

  10. Four Manifest Destiny versus Nativism: Mexico, 1846–1848
    (pp. 69-88)

    When the War of 1812 ended, Americans felt relatively secure from attacks by foreign countries. The militia system had been discredited, and states created their own volunteer regiments—what we know today as the National Guard—that could be federalized very quickly in case of a national emergency. The standing army grew as well and evolved into a frontier army of tough soldiers who were invisible in the sophisticated East, which enjoyed industrial expansion unparalleled in American history up to that point. The issue was expansion of the American nation west, and the disputes rested on how and where that...

  11. Five Prisoners of Politics: A Very Uncivil War
    (pp. 89-112)

    The Civil War (1861–1865) initially continued the tradition of paroles in the field established during the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War, but in time, each side realized that the parole system was a failure. Honor meant very little, especially to troop-hungry armies; they wanted their soldiers returned to their units as quickly as possible. Most certainly, the Union possessed all the advantages: a large population, an established navy, most of the industrial power of the nation, and the political will expressed by President Abraham Lincoln to hold the Union together. The Confederacy had believed strongly,...

  12. Six Indians as POWs in America: From Discovery to 1914
    (pp. 113-135)

    In 1561 a Spanish ship landed in Virginia and took one Indian captive to Spain, where he was baptized Don Luis de Velasco. During his Spanish sojourn, he was educated and granted Spanish citizenship. In 1570 Velasco returned to the New World, along with several Spanish Jesuit missionaries he knew very well. On shore, Velasco quickly returned to his native ways and led a raid that killed all. One wonders why the level of violence was so high, and why the act of getting even, if Velasco’s calculated murders are any indication, must have been so sweet. A look back...

  13. Seven Spaniards and Insurrectos: Spanish-American War (1898) and War in the Philippines (1899–1905)
    (pp. 136-158)

    According to Frederick Jackson Turner, the American continental frontier came to an end in 1893; the mid-nineteenth-century notion of Manifest Destiny was fulfilled; the native tribes all lived on reservations and were wards of the federal government, and the United States had no clear national mission. The “Lower Forty-eight,” as the remote Alaskan territorials called them, were soon to become forty-eight states, and it seemed that a powerful lobby advocated more movement to the west and south, even if it was outside the continental boundaries. To personalities such as Theodore Roosevelt, unless a country, like a physical organism, grew, it...

  14. Eight Over There and Over Here: Enemy Prisoners of War and Prisoners of State in the Great War
    (pp. 159-178)

    By the end of the nineteenth century, Americans began to worry more about populist threats to their democratic institutions and economic opportunities and less about the frontier.¹ By the twentieth century, Americans saw themselves as noble and moral crusaders for liberal democratic traditions that included the rule of law, progress, freedom, and individual rights. With this kind of liberalism firmly in control of the American vision of itself, President Woodrow Wilson took pride in keeping the United States out of the Great War until 1917. To the deep chagrin of the British and former president Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated military...

  15. Nine Pensionierte Wehrmacht: German and Italian POWs and Internees in the United States
    (pp. 179-201)

    Never in the history of warfare were so many human beings held behind barbed wire as during World War II (1939–1945). Categories abound: prisoners of war, internees, political prisoners, Holocaust prisoners from various countries, war criminals, disarmed enemy personnel, and prisoners of state. More than 10 million German soldiers were held as prisoners in twenty countries during and after World War II. Between 1942 and 1946 the U.S. Army held over 425,000 German, 50,000 Italian, and 5,000 Japanese prisoners in some 500 prison camps throughout the United States.¹ Beginning in 1943 with the surrender of the Afrika Korps to...

  16. Ten The Reborn: Japanese Soldiers as Enemy Prisoners of War and American Nisei Internees
    (pp. 202-222)

    The Japanese did not begin the twentieth century as draconian captors or suicidal maniacs. The radical change in Japanese military attitudes and behavior toward prisoners of war in World War II and their collective decision against surrender were formed in part as a result of cultural retribution for European double-dealing in the early part of the twentieth century and the development of militant Bushido. Originally issued asJapanese Army Regulations for Handling Prisoners of Warin February 1904, Army Instruction 22, Article 2 of the General Rules, stated, “Prisoners of war shall be treated with a spirit of goodwill and...

  17. Eleven After the Victory: Optimism, Justice, or Vengeance?
    (pp. 223-246)

    No war in modern history took more military and civilian lives than World War II. The United States lost 293,121 killed in action on all fronts and 115,185 nonhostile deaths. In general terms, about 11 million civilians and 4.5 million soldiers perished on all sides in the Pacific theater of operations. In Europe, approximately 28 million civilians and 14 million soldiers perished. In the Holocaust, approximately 12 million people died, including 5.7 million Jews intentionally murdered by the Nazis from 1939 to 1945.¹ Amid the joy of victory and optimism for the future that certainly existed in 1945, some semblance...

  18. Twelve Prisoners at War: Forced Repatriation and the Prison Revolts in Korea
    (pp. 247-268)

    The American military services recognized that political conscience was more important in the Cold War than it had been during World War II. A middle ground was essential because a political act or statement in a prison camp is radically different from an individual political act at home. Prisoners do not represent themselves; they act as direct representatives of their government and the military services engaged in public war. After the Korean War, the American government decided that something had to be done so that its free-thinking soldiers, accustomed to the rule of law, could better understand what was expected...

  19. Thirteen Vietnam Quagmire: Enemy Prisoners of War, Phoenix, and the Vietcong Infrastructure
    (pp. 269-291)

    During the Vietnam War, especially from 1965 to 1971, when American combat units took prisoners in the field, thousands of Vietcong and North Vietnamese soldiers fell into American hands. If enemy soldiers were captured in uniform, the process was relatively simple and standard. In accordance with the Rules of Engagement and the 1949 Geneva Convention, they were sent to one of the prison camps in South Vietnam to wait out the war in POW quarantine. The 1949 Geneva Convention and the 1964 agreement between the United States and South Vietnam protected North Vietnamese military prisoners and confirmed that North Vietnamese...

  20. Fourteen To Desert Storm and Beyond: Enemy Prisoners of War and the Conflict of Rules
    (pp. 292-309)

    On 23 October 1983 a truck loaded with thousands of pounds of explosives slammed into the headquarters of the American and French contingent of a multinational force in Beirut, Lebanon. The people of the United States, the president, and the Marine Corps were horrified as they began to understand the nature and danger of Islamic fundamentalism.¹ The American military services, with the possible exceptions of the garrison forces in Korea, in Germany during the Cold War, and in Bosnia, had never been exceptional international peacekeepers in the contemporary sense. Neither the U.S. Army nor the Marine Corps was a trained...

  21. Fifteen Iraqi Freedom, Abu Ghraib, and Guantánamo: The Problem of the Moral High Ground
    (pp. 310-333)

    The war against Saddam Hussein began in 2003. It had little to do with the 9/11 attacks or even al-Qaeda’s intention to damage the United States, but more to do with the overthrow of Hussein’s Hitlerian Baath Party dictatorship and a show of force against al-Qaeda. By 2003 fissures began to appear at the highest level in the Pentagon between Donald H. Rumsfeld, the new secretary of defense, and his senior management. In 1999 then-candidate George W. Bush delivered a speech at the Citadel in South Carolina that addressed the heart of the American army’s capability to wage war. Bush...

  22. Sixteen The Evolution of New Paradigms: Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future
    (pp. 334-350)

    One always has to ask, does the end justify the means? Nicoló Machiavelli stated as much inThe Prince,published in 1532, but it is a difficult question to pose, especially in terms of the treatment of EPWs. The temptation is to oppose Machiavelli and assert that the end never justifies the means. But the devil lies in the details. Civilized peoples and nations claim that there are ethics germane to war—the Geneva Convention, for example—as well as other treaties and conventions dealing with the treatment of war prisoners. W. L. La Croix reminds us inWar and...

  23. Appendix One Loyalist Units Organized in the American Revolution
    (pp. 351-351)
  24. Appendix Two Cartel for the Exchange of POWS in the War of 1812
    (pp. 351-359)
  25. Appendix Three Confederate and Union POW Camps
    (pp. 359-361)
  26. Appendix Four General Order 207: Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States
    (pp. 361-362)
  27. Appendix Five Andersonville Deaths, 1864–1865
    (pp. 362-363)
  28. Appendix Six Hague Convention Ratified by the United States, 3 December 1909
    (pp. 363-366)
  29. Appendix Seven German Prisoners Captured by U.S. Divisions, 1917–1918
    (pp. 366-366)
  30. Appendix Eight Executive Order 9066
    (pp. 366-367)
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
  31. Appendix Nine World War II Trials of U.S. Personnel
    (pp. 368-368)
  32. Appendix Ten Nuremberg Principles, 1946
    (pp. 368-369)
  33. Appendix Eleven Geneva Convention, 1949
    (pp. 369-370)
  34. Appendix Twelve U.S. Code of Conduct, 1954
    (pp. 370-370)
  35. Notes
    (pp. 371-414)
  36. Bibliography
    (pp. 415-438)
  37. Index
    (pp. 439-468)
  38. Back Matter
    (pp. 469-469)