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Old January 1st, 2018, 01:33 AM   #11

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In March 1968, a unit of American soldiers named "Charlie Company" began a search and destroy mission in South Vietnam's Quang Ngai region. They had been told that there was a Viet Cong headquarters and with it two hundred VC guerrillas. The soldiers had been ordered to destroy all houses and livestock. Most of them believed that they had been ordered to kill everyone they found in the village.

Early in the morning of March 16, Charlie Company arrived in My Lai. In the space of four hours, 567 civilians were killed. Many off whom were killed after being herded into an irrigation ditch. Only three weapons were recovered and no Viet Cong were found. The event was called a success by the army. The commanding officer, Captain Ernest Medina reported that twenty non-combatants had been killed. The rest had been Viet Cong.

A year later, a letter written Ronald Ridenhour arrived in the offices of politicians and government officials in Washington. He had evidence of something "dark and bloody" that occurred in "Pinkville", as My Lai was called. He asked for congress to investigate. A New York Times journalist, Seymour Hirsch broke the news of the event which the army had managed to hush up. Life magazine published photographs of the massacre.

A number of those involved with Charlie Company were court-martialled at Fort Benning, Georgia in November 1970. The accused were Capt. Ernest Medina, Lt. William Calley and a number of junior rank soldiers. Calley was accused of murdering 109 civilians. the court reduced the number of people Calley was found to have massacred in the first two charges, while an additional charge had been reduced to assault with intent to kill.

Capt. Medina and 19 others were acquitted on March 29, 1971. Lt. Calley was convicted and received a life sentence which was substantially reduced after a series of appeals. He was released in 1974 and went on to work in insurance. In his account of the slaughter at May Lai, entitled "The body count", he wrote -

"We were not in My Lai to kill human beings. We were there to kill an ideology that is carried by-I don't know, pawns. Blobs. Pieces of flesh. And I wasn't in My Lai to destroy intelligent men. I was there to destroy an intangible idea. To destroy Communism".

Ronald Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on Charlie Company's genocidal act, wrote -

"It didn't mean slaughtering whole villages of women and children. One of my friends, when he told me about it said: 'You know, it was a Nazi kind of thing'. We didn't go there to be Nazis. At least none of the people I knew went there to be Nazis".
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Old January 1st, 2018, 02:04 AM   #12

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Res Ipsa Loquitur View Post
In March 1968, a unit of American soldiers named "Charlie Company" began a search and destroy mission in South Vietnam's Quang Ngai region. They had been told that there was a Viet Cong headquarters and with it two hundred VC guerrillas. The soldiers had been ordered to destroy all houses and livestock. Most of them believed that they had been ordered to kill everyone they found in the village.

Early in the morning of March 16, Charlie Company arrived in My Lai. In the space of four hours, 567 civilians were killed. Many off whom were killed after being herded into an irrigation ditch. Only three weapons were recovered and no Viet Cong were found. The event was called a success by the army. The commanding officer, Captain Ernest Medina reported that twenty non-combatants had been killed. The rest had been Viet Cong.

A year later, a letter written Ronald Ridenhour arrived in the offices of politicians and government officials in Washington. He had evidence of something "dark and bloody" that occurred in "Pinkville", as My Lai was called. He asked for congress to investigate. A New York Times journalist, Seymour Hirsch broke the news of the event which the army had managed to hush up. Life magazine published photographs of the massacre.

A number of those involved with Charlie Company were court-martialled at Fort Benning, Georgia in November 1970. The accused were Capt. Ernest Medina, Lt. William Calley and a number of junior rank soldiers. Calley was accused of murdering 109 civilians. the court reduced the number of people Calley was found to have massacred in the first two charges, while an additional charge had been reduced to assault with intent to kill.

Capt. Medina and 19 others were acquitted on March 29, 1971. Lt. Calley was convicted and received a life sentence which was substantially reduced after a series of appeals. He was released in 1974 and went on to work in insurance. In his account of the slaughter at May Lai, entitled "The body count", he wrote -

"We were not in My Lai to kill human beings. We were there to kill an ideology that is carried by-I don't know, pawns. Blobs. Pieces of flesh. And I wasn't in My Lai to destroy intelligent men. I was there to destroy an intangible idea. To destroy Communism".

Ronald Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on Charlie Company's genocidal act, wrote -

"It didn't mean slaughtering whole villages of women and children. One of my friends, when he told me about it said: 'You know, it was a Nazi kind of thing'. We didn't go there to be Nazis. At least none of the people I knew went there to be Nazis".
This is important to be reminded: even if [obviously] a country facing a war tends to be protective with its soldiers, anyway they had to face a trial before of a martial court. The sentence [because of mere opportunity] was minimal at the end [the life sentence hadn't applied in reality], because US cannot make soldiers feel guilty about military actions ... [it's common to all countries].

The difference with dictatorial regimes is that there was a trial and there was a sentence. Right won [a very little, but it won].
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Old January 1st, 2018, 02:36 AM   #13
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Imagine you are behind enemy lines on a raid. An enemy soldier surrenders to you. You cannot take him with you, but if you leave him behind alive then he will raise the alarm. Is killing that unarmed, surrendered soldier a war crime?
Yes. You shot a soldier who surrendered to you, who have no weapons, and poses no threat.

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Then imagine that there is a small, insignificant, military installation in a city were millions of civilians live; so you nuke the city. Is this a war crime?
Yes. Because that act was no longer about the military installation as you describe it to be insignificant.

Your goal was far more likely to punish the civilian. That would be a war crime.


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There are lots of arguments for and against what is a viable target. In WW2 there were lots of German civilians living in largely non militarised cities. But those factories in those cities could easily be changed to a military purpose, and anyway anything that aids the enemy ( production of food, clothes, heating etc) could be arguably a viable target. And those citizens could soon be turned into makshift soldiers to defend the city to the death agsinst YOUR men. Does that then make it a war crime to bomb the enemy into a state of weakened such that he is more likely to surrender?
Morale bombing was a **** deal, whether before or after WWII. I don't think anyone sane would justify defending the actions of morale bombing. Are you?



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Going back further in the Napoleonic period, (and before) a beseiged city , castle etc was usually given the choice to surrender and remain relatively unscathed. If they decided to resist and hope they could repel the siege, then they were in for a pretty hard time of it the the city/castle fell to the enemy. The devastation wrought on the citizens that refused to surrender often meant that subsequent sieges would end more peacably saving lives on both sides.
Sorry but that's not applicable here. IF these actions were to take place today, then it would be a war crime, as we pretty much agreed to what war crimes are, see multiple laws and conventions. You cannot retrospectively judge one prior to the making of such conventions.

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What I am try to say is that the definition between what is and what isn't a war crime can often be blurred, and it is far easier for a court to sit in judgement on a soldier than it is for that combatant to make a split second decision as to what is the right and what is the wrong thing to do in the heat of the moment. It is also more dificult for a country to do the right thing when faced with potential defeat against a country that will rip your people apart if they win. Earlier in the war , when defeat was more than possible, Churchill seemed ready to do anything in order to defeat Germany. It was only far later in the war, when victory was assured, that he seemed to have more of a reluctance to continuosly carpet bomb German cities.
Our perspective may be blurred, but the act it self is not blurred. Your actions are what they are, how we interpret them changes depending on our circumstances, their circumstances, and our perspectives.

But never confuse the acts and the interpretation of the act.

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It's a fine line, and as has been said, it is the victors who decide where it lies.
Which is false. Think of it this way, the reason why so many writers write about the horror of the Mongol horde despite them been the victor is very simple, victors DO NOT write history.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 03:04 AM   #14
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Yes. You shot a soldier who surrendered to you, who have no weapons, and poses no threat.



Yes. Because that act was no longer about the military installation as you describe it to be insignificant.

Your goal was far more likely to punish the civilian. That would be a war crime.




Morale bombing was a **** deal, whether before or after WWII. I don't think anyone sane would justify defending the actions of morale bombing. Are you?





Sorry but that's not applicable here. IF these actions were to take place today, then it would be a war crime, as we pretty much agreed to what war crimes are, see multiple laws and conventions. You cannot retrospectively judge one prior to the making of such conventions.



Our perspective may be blurred, but the act it self is not blurred. Your actions are what they are, how we interpret them changes depending on our circumstances, their circumstances, and our perspectives.

But never confuse the acts and the interpretation of the act.



Which is false. Think of it this way, the reason why so many writers write about the horror of the Mongol horde despite them been the victor is very simple, victors DO NOT write history.

I agree about nuking a city to destroy an insignificant military installation potentially being a war crime; but allowing a surrendered enemy soldier to live, ensuring the failure of your mission and the possible death of you and your comrades is another thing entirely.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 03:15 AM   #15

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"how many nations who won conflicts condamned acts they did to win such conflicts?". How many nations that lost conflicts condamned acts they did? How many were forced to do so? here's your war crime, pure p.r. propaganda, nobody comes out with clean hands from a war and in the end defining what war crimes were committed becomes a matter of cherry picking.
For example after germany has collapsed in ww2, many people were given a free pass for all sorts of reasons: doctors who committed atrocities on prisoners were not condamned but instead were high praised for the results of their studies, many end up getting a job in the u.s. or russia. many soldiers who were involved in atrocities were given a free pass cause everyone was already thinking about the eventuality that russian invaded western europe and you couldn't afford to have a too weak germany with no military. and so on. So we basically overlooked many known war criminals because of convenience.

The best chance you have is that many decades if not centuries after the facts, when emotions run down and generations have passed people can look back with a more honest look, but for example lots of americans are still denying to be a nation born over the genocide of the natives.

Japan still officially isn't aknowledging things like the Nanjin rape or Unit731 and nobody bothered to shove it down their throath like they did with the germans. Nobody as far as i know has even been put under trial or condamned for such crimes. why? because ultimately nobody cares apart from the victims.
i actually feel it's some sort of a miracle what has been accomplished with germany after ww2, with a losing nation fully aknowledging their responsabilities with no resentment that is actually something pretty rare to happens if you think about it.

Last edited by gustavolapizza; January 1st, 2018 at 03:33 AM.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 04:16 AM   #16

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Originally Posted by mariusj View Post
Sorry, that's not how things work.

Plenty of people have done rape pillage and destruction to force the enemy to surrender. By your idea, so long as the actions were done towards the victory then that seems to be OK?

Because we have seen cities and provinces surrender due to these actions.
Give one example of war rape NOT being classed as a war crime? Post 4th Geneva Convention 1949.

Give another example post 1949 of armies deliberately shooting civilians to force an enemy to surrender and it being considered NOT a war crime.

Last edited by Edric Streona; January 1st, 2018 at 04:19 AM.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 08:35 AM   #17

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Originally Posted by gustavolapizza View Post
"how many nations who won conflicts condamned acts they did to win such conflicts?". How many nations that lost conflicts condamned acts they did? How many were forced to do so? here's your war crime, pure p.r. propaganda, nobody comes out with clean hands from a war and in the end defining what war crimes were committed becomes a matter of cherry picking.
For example after germany has collapsed in ww2, many people were given a free pass for all sorts of reasons: doctors who committed atrocities on prisoners were not condamned but instead were high praised for the results of their studies, many end up getting a job in the u.s. or russia. many soldiers who were involved in atrocities were given a free pass cause everyone was already thinking about the eventuality that russian invaded western europe and you couldn't afford to have a too weak germany with no military. and so on. So we basically overlooked many known war criminals because of convenience.

The best chance you have is that many decades if not centuries after the facts, when emotions run down and generations have passed people can look back with a more honest look, but for example lots of americans are still denying to be a nation born over the genocide of the natives.

Japan still officially isn't aknowledging things like the Nanjin rape or Unit731 and nobody bothered to shove it down their throath like they did with the germans. Nobody as far as i know has even been put under trial or condamned for such crimes. why? because ultimately nobody cares apart from the victims.
i actually feel it's some sort of a miracle what has been accomplished with germany after ww2, with a losing nation fully aknowledging their responsabilities with no resentment that is actually something pretty rare to happens if you think about it.
As usual about crimes, we would need a third superior part to judge, but ... at international level this superior third part isn't. So the winning powers ...

It's useless to be idealist about this.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 11:21 AM   #18

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Originally Posted by AlpinLuke View Post
It's useless to be idealist about this.
Agreed.

However, what I find interesting is that scale seems to matter when judging things like war crimes/targetting of civilians.

When a whole nation, like the US in Japan, willfully targets thousands of civilians, it's merited. But what of a hypothetical soldier in Vietnam who executes a number of civilians in order to get a VC to speak, potentially saving his buddies? Clearly our intuition tells us that that is wrong. So why isn't targetting civilians on a larger scale considered wrong?

It's this logical inconistency that I want to adress. I'm more on the realist side when talking about these issues, but the way these matters are often approached bothers me and I was wondering whether there was anyone who could provide a good explanation as to why this inconsistency occurs.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 11:55 AM   #19

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Agreed.

However, what I find interesting is that scale seems to matter when judging things like war crimes/targetting of civilians.

When a whole nation, like the US in Japan, willfully targets thousands of civilians, it's merited. But what of a hypothetical soldier in Vietnam who executes a number of civilians in order to get a VC to speak, potentially saving his buddies? Clearly our intuition tells us that that is wrong. So why isn't targetting civilians on a larger scale considered wrong?

It's this logical inconistency that I want to adress. I'm more on the realist side when talking about these issues, but the way these matters are often approached bothers me and I was wondering whether there was anyone who could provide a good explanation as to why this inconsistency occurs.
Ok, we have to ask help to psychology.

It's more easy to drop a bomb over a city than to use a sword to disembowel an enemy. It's mundane human psychology: more far you are from the humans you're killing and less heavy will be to do that.

It's not about scale, but about distance. In other words, you don't see the persons you are going to kill. For the unconscious part of our mind ... you're not killing ... you're dropping a bomb.

When Crusaders took over Jerusalem and they massacred the population of the city, they did it directly, disemboweling men, raping women, killing children ...

Technically they demonstrated to be "better warriors" than modern ones.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 11:57 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Edric Streona View Post
Give one example of war rape NOT being classed as a war crime? Post 4th Geneva Convention 1949.

Give another example post 1949 of armies deliberately shooting civilians to force an enemy to surrender and it being considered NOT a war crime.
Eh, you are taking opposite positions here.

And I was asking that question, you don't get to turn around and ask me essentially what I ask of you after you said

"If you drop a bomb on military target, say the military depot in Hiroshima, and kill civilians. And the enemy surrenders so the war ends. You’ve saved lots of lives yours and theirs. It’s not a war crime. "

YOU CAN'T USE THE JUSTIFICATION OF 'IF IT ENDS THE WAR' THEN IT'S NOT A CRIME, and then ask me war crime to end wars is that justified.

Like wtf?
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