As long as there has been war, there have been prisoners of war (POWs). If you have served in the U.S. military in the last 50 years you know of the Law of Armed Conflict, the Code of Conduct and the extensive efforts the nation takes to recover U.S. and allied POWs and those listed as Missing in Action (MIA). But it might surprise many people to learn that throughout history often little preparation has been made by any nation to account for, feed, house and transport enemy prisoners. And it is only recently that historians of these conflicts have begun to study the topic of POWs. Professors Daniel Krebs and Lorien Foote are in the virtual studio for this episode to discuss their work in this field and their book Useful Captives: The Role of POWs in American Military Conflicts. They join podcast editor Ron Granieri to examine how the treatment of POWs has changed over time to include some of the most recent actions in the middle east regarding mistreatment and release of prisoners.
So, we see in the 19th and 20th century how these POWs then were written, if you will, out of the history of warfare, precisely because they had not given that full measure of devotion to their nation or their cause.
Lorien Foote is the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor of History at Texas A&M University. Daniel Krebs is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Louisville, KY. He specializes in military history and colonial and revolutionary American history. He is the General Harold K. Johnson Chair for AY21 at the U.S. Army War College. Ron Granieri is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Army War College and the Editor of A BETTER PEACE. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.
Photo Description: Vietnam POW bracelets exhibit at the Palm Springs Air Museum in California, United States.
Photo Credit: Michael VH on Flickr via Wikimedia Commons