In the newest attempt to fight a politically correct war, the US Army has adopted a manual on interrogation techniques more suitable for juvenile offenders. It bans even psychological measures, like leaving prisoners naked or mock executions.

People rarely go to jail for nothing, and the vast majority of inmates in military prisons are literally sworn, active enemies. The American army doesn’t keep them for amusement but to discourage repetition and to extract vital information. The inmates are hardened guerillas, not white-collar criminals. It takes cruelty to break their will to fight. Decent treatment only encourages others and brings volunteers to the guerilla camps: they risk nothing if the surrender when they feel the heat.

Absurd goodness becomes cruelty. Guerillas can target US troops with little fear: the Americans do not use weapons of mass destruction against them, especially if they hide among civilians. Decency in jails will add to the Iraqi civil war impetus: why abstain from committing a crime when jail conditions are relatively good? Unable to punish their enemies in jails, American soldiers and their Iraqi allies will kill more insurgents on the spot to keep them from surrendering.

The path of liberalizing the jails is endless. Next will come the quest to bring living conditions in jails—food, and medical treatment—up to US standards. Iraqi guerillas will see American jails as coveted luxury resorts with conditions and facilities far better than in the guerilla training camps. Guerillas will be awarded lawyers and the due process they refuse to their enemies and even compatriots in the sharia-driven caliphate they long for. Generally nothing can be proved about guerillas, and due process will result in wholesale acquittal. The civil war in Iraq won’t stop anytime soon, and the guerillas, released for lack of evidence after a reasonable period, will rejoin their fighting brethren. Instead of stopping the Iraqi war, the American left undermines the efforts of their troops. The left has created an impractically liberal due process at home which acquits criminals who hire good lawyers and now exports to the war zone a legal system of dubious use even in peacetime.

There is no single standard. People always apply different—double—standards to friends and everybody else, to comrades-in-arms and to enemies. It is perfectly reasonable to call on the Chinese to treat their pro-Western dissidents decently and refuse leniency to captured Islamic insurgents.

The insurgents shoot to kill, go to jails unrepenting, and yet the left wants to treat them like petty criminals. Insurgents, dissidents, and criminals act differently and should be treated differently in jails. All armies always have applied any pressure necessary on POWs to extract significant military information. The POW Geneva conventions are intended for soldiers who have nothing to tell. No army has ever fully practiced the conventions: Americans, Australians, and Russians routinely killed Japanese and German POWs during WWII. The Geneva safeguards apply to regular armies, not to insurgents who are technically criminals, not soldiers. Nothing in military practice or the legal code prohibits psychological pressure on captured guerillas.

If the American army doubts that public opinion is reasonable and can tolerate harsh treatment of military prisoners, it could leave the job to its Iraqi allies. The Iraqi government can treat insurgents in local jails the way they ordinarily do and have to do, and ban Amnesty International and other over-compassionate outfits from interfering.