Conduct in War

Discussion in 'Military History' started by delft, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. delft
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    delft Senior Member

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    I found this book review in Asia Times on line just before the weekend :
    Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news and business from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam
    I think its fascinating and I think its wrong. It says that the US military misbehaved in Vietnam because they didn't understand the background of the people and the war in the field as well as in Washington and in the levels in between.
    In a book review I read in my Dutch newspaper several months ago reviewing the translation of an American book ( I've forgotten the title ) it said that the attitude to the of the US military to the Japanese was very disrespectful and contrasted to their attitude to the Germans. They used the head of a Kamikaze pilot as a football, sent parts of killed Japanese home, ect. It showed the same attitude to the Koreans, Vietnamese, Afghans and Iraqi during the wars in those countries. I remember reading in the International Herald Tribune in the late '90's that an American division had killed nearly a thousand South Korean refugees from the fighting because its commander was afraid there were North Korean spies among them. This was in 1950 shortly after the division had arrived in the country. We all remember the attitude shown by some of the US military towards Afghan and Iraqi civilians and combatants.
    I'm sure this attitude is not limited to the US military. When The Netherlands decided after WWII that it needed the profits from its former colony, now Indonesia, to have the money to rebuild itself, it sent 150 000 soldiers to suppress the "rebels" and in the process behaved just as badly as described in the book review below and with hardly any prosecution for war crimes. And the Dutch had trading posts there since about 1600 and from 1815 fought to control all of it. The French, who occupied Algeria from 1830, also acted horribly against the Algerian population during the liberation war of 1954-62.
    Such war crimes are of little import if the intent is not to control the population afterwards. Think of the German genocidal policies against the Herero in South West Africa before WWI or against the Slavs in Eastern Europe and the Jews in all their occupied territories during WWII or of Julius Caesar's extermination of some Belgian tribes described in the Bello Gallica. However it is another matter if the occupying power wants to install a state after its own specification. As an extreme example it took the US from 1945 to 1987 before South Korea started on the road from a dependent dictatorship, first under Singh Man Rhee then under military dictators, most of the time General Park ( father of the present president ), to an independent political life and even now the South Korean armed forces are under the supervision of the US.

    Here is the review of "Kill Anything that Moves":
     
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  2. ABC78
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    ABC78 Junior Member

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    Here's an article from Time Magazine on who can or should be held responsible for war crimes.

    Lawbreakers at War: How Responsible Are They? | TIME.com
     
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  3. delft
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    delft Senior Member

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    From the Time article :
    Apparently not. The US seldom tries to prosecute its war criminals and only when they cause an international scandal. And they promise to invade The Netherlands if one or more of their war criminals were to be presented to the International Court of Criminal Justice in The Hague.
    But when a former Dutch military officer wrote in the 1990's in the Dutch newspaper I subscribe to that he, in command of a patrol sent out to retrieve the administration of a Dutch company in Indonesia during the Dutch war against that country in the 1940's, took prisoner a number of Indonesian soldiers which he had then killed because he could not take them with him, there was no action from the Dutch authorities with respect to what was clearly a war crime. Another well know case was the murder of some 600 Egyptian PoW's by the Israeli army in the Sinai during the six day war. I think not prosecuting war crimes is common practice.
     
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  4. ahadicow
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    ahadicow New Member

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    The word "war crime" to me is a oxymoron.

    A war is a crime. Wars are not compatible with the moral views held by the majority of humanity. You achieve political goals by killing people who otherwise led ordnary lives and just happen to be the subject of the regime you oppose and lived in an unlucky region of the world, how could that not be a crime?

    Ofc, we the sheeple have to be sold a better story of wars that is simpler to understand and compatible to our moral view and real life interest. This story is the oxymoron war fantacies of crusade, good war, just war and humane war. The so called "war crimes" are happenstance common place in real wars but exposed to the view of general public which found them repulsive. "war crimes" are damaging to the war fantacies of people and that is the real reason they want those prosecuted.

    I'm in no way suggesting war criminals are innocent. Only that they are small flies in "crime against humanity" than those who normally wear ties and signed the lives of thousands of people away in a clean and bright office.
     
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  5. delft
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    delft Senior Member

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    An understandable attitude. But around 1900 many were concerned that war couldn't be abolished but that the conduct of wars was more terrible than necessary and that something should be done. But the history of what was done is very enlightening. To give a single example: at a conference in Geneva around 1930 the parties agreed that the bombing of civilians should be outlawed. But Great Britain wanted an exemption for the bombing of wild tribes as those in Iraq and especially in the Frontier Provinces of India with Afghanistan where nothing else worked. I read about it in Flight magazine of that time.
     
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  6. ahadicow
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    ahadicow New Member

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    It is amazing, Human moral intuition is a force to be recon with. I still wonder how we get rid of slavery when it was so ingrained in culture and the enslaved so disenfrenchised as to not put up much of a fight.

    I don't know if war are abolishible, only that we are not even close. As to the conduct of the war, I think there is somewhat a gradiant if you want to put the most inhuman and vile action on one end and more decent and sporty behavior on the other even though the most decent act in war are sill barbaric by the standard of civilized people. In war, it's either you want to be apathic and cruel or you want to be a corpse. In short, war dehumanizes you.

    The problem with getting wars under control wasn't much of a problem of determining war is morally wrong, that is very easy. the big problem is to be honest. we are so good at transforming facts with words, rhetorics and entertainment, that our image of wars are destorted more than ever. People don't watch realitic war movies, so hollywood stop shooting them. We are left with a notion of war that's riddled with heroism, technology, achievement, ideology and prospect of sex. There are so few people who has memory of real wars and how terrible they are, what we get are Amercian/Canadian soldiers come back from Iraq and Afghanistan telling people stories of success, of achievement, of honor, of recognation and of duty. Just imagine what these stories would do to young people who are so pressured to succeed and in the middle of masculinity crisis...../facepalm
     
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  7. ABC78
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    ABC78 Junior Member

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    U.S. Army Captain Paul Chappell(Ret.) talks to students at American University about war and human nature. He hits on a lot of factors that effect conduct in war and combat.

    [video]http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/WillWa[/video]

    [video]http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Peacefu[/video]
     
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  8. solarz
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    solarz Senior Member

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    If history has taught us anything, it is that wars are inevitable.

    Civilizations that have experienced long periods of peace invariably falls into one of two traps:

    1- It becomes powerful and thus arrogant. Eventually, the temptation to use force to solve its problems become too strong to resist, and it goes to war.

    2- Without any external threats, the society turns on itself. It becomes ever more corrupted, and this corruption becomes the fatal weakness that eventually leads to it being attacked by other civilizations.

    The only exceptions are states that are surrounded by more powerful nations, who are forced into a constant vigilance.

    So if war is inevitable, then the real crime is to let it drag on unnecessarily.

    Take the Sri Lanka civil war, for example. Which is the greater evil: the 3 decades of failed negotiations and constant violence, or the 1 year of brutal warfare that ended the stalemate once and for all?

    Collateral damage is inevitable in airstrikes. Atrocities are inevitable in prolonged infantry deployments. Human nature will trump any kind of moralizing, especially in high-stress situations like the front lines. Failing to take that into account is as foolish as failing to take into account the physics of dropping explosive ordinance from high altitudes.

    Atrocity is not to be condoned, but the idea that a war can somehow separate the combatants from the non-combatants is just laughable, on multiple levels.

    Decisions in war need to be made with the objective of ending the war as quickly as possible, because that is often synonym with minimizing casualties for soldiers and civilians alike.
     
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  9. Kurt
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    Kurt Junior Member

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    A good summary of the Chinese experience. Will it be possible to invent a conflict resolution that works better?
    I read several scientific studies about tribal wars. It seems that mankind does make progress in having these violent clashes become an increasingly lesser toll on human life within a timeframe - short intense bursts of violence with long peace, but even here less and less humans are on the frontlines.
     
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  10. ABC78
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    ABC78 Junior Member

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    A documentary on the Wikileaks film that showed US forces killing Iraqi civilians in 2007 counter-insurgency operations.

    Witness on Al Jazeera

    Permission to Engage

    Victims' families and an ex-US soldier unpick the Wikileaks film that showed US forces killing Iraqi civilians in 2007.

    Permission to Engage - Witness - Al Jazeera English

    [video=youtube;YnF5X7xF8zc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnF5X7xF8zc[/video]
     
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