Over the course of a weekend, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump swung from promising to order U.S. soldiers to commit acts of torture to vowing not to and finally landing on swearing to change the law to make torture of enemy combatants legal.
Torture and civilian killings are considered war crimes by the Geneva Convention, the standard of international law for wars, but Trump has promised to reintroduce waterboarding and even more severe interrogation techniques as well as targeting and killing the families of terrorist operatives.
On March 3, during the Fox News-moderated GOP debate in Michigan, the business mogul did not back down from his proposed military tactics, stating that U.S. soldiers would follow his orders even if they were unconstitutional.
Trump reversed his position the following day, March 4, issuing a campaign statement promising to never put American soldiers in a position to commit war crimes, the New York Post reports.
“I will not order a military officer to disobey the law,” Trump stated. “It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”
This reversal did not last long.
On March 5, during a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, Trump told his supporters he would change U.S. laws to allow U.S. soldiers to commit acts of torture and target civilians, KTLA reports.
“We’re going to stay within the laws,” Trump said. “But you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to have those laws broadened because we’re playing with two sets of rules: their rules and our rules.”
That evening, during an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Trump elaborated on his newfound position to change U.S. law to allow for torture.
“We have an enemy that doesn’t play by the laws,” Trump said, referring to ISIS. “You could say laws, and they’re laughing. They’re laughing at us right now. I would like to strengthen laws so that we can better compete.”
The GOP presidential candidate added that he would like for waterboarding at minimum to be reintroduced. He then dismissed the argument that committing torture would encourage enemies to mistreat American captives.
“They’re doing that anyway,” Trump said.
Trump added that, in his opinion, the U.S. should use the same tactics ISIS uses to defeat the terrorist organization.
“You have to play the game the way they’re playing the game … now, I want to stay within the laws, I want to do all of that, but I think we have to increase the laws,” Trump said.
Trump did not explain how he planned to change the internationally agreed-upon laws of the Geneva Convention.