I just finished looking through the latest, official DoD propaganda PowerPoint (what? DoD using PowerPoint!?) on insurgent LOAC violations in al-Falluja.
"Law" of Armed Conflict (LOAC) seems like a rather funny animal. In my world view, there are no "true" laws or rights, only the POWER of certain groups to enforce patterns of behavior that they call "laws" or "rights". War, of course, is how opposing groups resolve disagreements when neither side recognizes that the other has enough power to enforce their idea of "law" and "right". So war, then, is predicated on the breakdown or absence of "law". Which makes it rather funny that some nations insist on applying "law" to warfare. Let's take a closer look at this:
The US Military has formed their own "law" of war (which, coincidentally is taught to all military members as "the" law of war, not "our" or "a" law of war). It is based on precedent from international agreements (that is, those that we choose to honor, unlike the Geneva Convention, UN Charter, etc.) formed in a world system in which they dominated the agenda. Now they are using it as a propaganda tool (primarily to enforce the dominant domestic opinion that the US action in Iraq is somehow noble). Imagine: the world's dominant power, using a set of "laws" that they made up, claiming moral superiority because they adhere to there own law (in their view, of course), while the insurgents do not, and are therefore "bad".
This "law" is, of course, carefully structured to "outlaw" those forms of asymetric warfare that are effective against the US military.
There is no "right" or "law", only power. Social contract is possible: if a group of soverign individuals submits to a collective power governed by laws, in order to gain benefit of membership in that group, then they must submit to rule by those laws, or to leave the group (along with its benefits) if they refuse. Any "law" made one group and applied to individuals who did not voluntarily submit to that "law" is just what the quotation marks imply: a cover for the coercive use of power, for the imposition of one set of values involuntarily upon another. That's what LOAC is. If the US military uses LOAC as a guideline for its own action--based on what it thinks is "right" or "ethical", then more power to them. In fact, I would recommend it. However, when they try to impose their set of morality on an outside group, let us recognize this for what it is: a military and public-relations tactic.