I get a lot of comments to the effect that the Geneva Conventions (GC) are only for victors, or inapplicable in war, or wishful thinking etc.
I very much disagree.
For the following reasons:
First, there is a difference between a solider and a thug and that difference is not in the guns they carry, but in what they do and why they do it. Yes, there are indeed bad soldiers who act like thugs, but that does not mean that our society has to accept that and confuse aberration with the norm. The norm, the ideal, must be upheld for the sake of being civilized.
Second, one does not observe the laws of civilized behavior because the other guy does it, one does that to be better then the other guy, to uphold the moral superiority over the amoral thug. You don't behave like a maniac not in order to spare anybody, but to retain your own honor and integrity.
Third, and his is always totally overlooked, when military units begin to murder, kill, torture or target civilians their discipline goes does the tubes very fast followed soon by their combat capability. Simply put - once you break the law, there is no law, and the unit's commander then becomes just an accomplice and pretty soon his authority will be challenged.
Fourth, committing atrocities is counter-productive. Not only does it mess with the psyche of those committing the atrocities, it also strengthens the resolve of your opponents.
I think that human right and laws of war ought to be taught to every single person on the planet and especially soldiers and I think that they should be respected and enforced.
This being said, I don't think that supporting that mandates being naive or stupid about the realities of war. This is why the most important task of all is to do everything possible and impossible to prevent wars in the first place.