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Old January 2nd, 2018, 06:48 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Wallach View Post
You're basically proving my point here. You view huge casualties amongst civilians as acceptable, so long as there is a military advantage to be gained. However, would you say the same if an individual commander decided to slaughter an entire village because he knows there are insurgents amongst he civilians, much like My Lai? Probably not, so I am asking what your logic is for supporting the first, but condemning the second.
The system of laws - while it strifes to be clear - often cannot be so. If you put out a binary system of in/out, it will always lead to bizarre situations at that line.

In a strict sense, eg, not taking prisoners if you CAN do so is a warcrime, even when that puts you in danger. Once your opponents makes clear he is willing to surrender by putting down his arms, "not accepting" that is a warcrime. Whenever a history reads: "they went out to battle and took no prisoners that day", you know that you just read about a bunch of war criminals - and not something to be proudly declared.

Practice is different, and sometimes doing it right makes things go wrong.

The attempt of Commandos on Sark to adhere to these rules led to the Germans being shot/knifed after being bound (for taken POWs), which made Hitler believe they were just bound to be shot, and thus issued his infamous "Commando order".
Question: Is obeying to that order a crime or not?

In regards to civilians they were only included after WW2. For the era before, the difference between crime and military necessity is probably wether its "reasonable" or not - a subjective category that naturally differs from the viewpoint. The general consense is that "if you could know it is a crime, it probably is one" - where you can replace "could" through "should have" when you are on the losing side.

So "reasonable" as a category means you need a payoff.
Was the shelling of Copenhagen by Nelson a warcrime?
Was the shelling of Paris by the German army in 1871 a war crime?

When do become bomber raids a war crime? When they target factories, even when these are near civilian quarters? Or when you target civilian quarters to kill off the workforce (with just the kids and family as collateral damage)?
If there is a military gain in relation to the civilian casualties, you usually get away with "act of war". The ratio is, however, not fixed. An absolute protection of civilians will lead to "human shield" policy, used by autocrats and islamists in the previous years - so will in effect endanger the very persons it intends to protect. There is no easy clear answer that will work for "general" cases. You can discuss a specific case, like Hiroshima, My Lai, Dresden or Rotterdam. The taking of hostages or the expulsion of a whole people. Often those perpetrating the act will see it as necessary, those on the receiving end will see it as crime.

Sorry for bubbling...
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:13 AM   #32

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Absolutely, the nature of the act is the same, it changes the way we perceive it.

In battle it's licit to use a knife to slit your enemy's throat.

It's not kind, it's brutal, but licit.

There are behaviors which are not criminal in their nature, when embedded in a war context: to kill, generally is a crime, but not on a battlefield.

It can become a crime, also on a battlefield, depending on how you kill [according to existing international treaties and agreements].

It happens that some kinds of weapons have declared illegal.

So, at the end, it's all about the interpretation that the powers give to war behaviors. It's all about existing conventions.
The Geneva Convention expressly forbids the use of serrated bayonets. Also forbidden is the use of dum-dum bullets. Any soldier caught using them can be summarily executed by "the opposing side". FACT!
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:26 AM   #33

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Tokyo was subject to conventional attacks that cost more lives then the nuclear attacks. These also targeted civilian areas for their ability to burn better. When the nuclear weapons became available, there was not much point in using them on Tokyo.
A fire bombing doesn't affect the command chain [commanders are in their bunkers while common people are burning!]. A nuclear attack is something totally different.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:28 AM   #34

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The Geneva Convention expressly forbids the use of serrated bayonets. Also forbidden is the use of dum-dum bullets. Any soldier caught using them can be summarily executed by "the opposing side". FACT!
Well ... right VS pragmatic reality ...

in a hand to hand combat, it's probable that both the sides, using bayonets will kill here and there ...

May be I'm ignorant about this, but are you aware of trials about soldiers killing using bayonets? I mean, not sporadic cases, but a lot of cases ...
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:38 AM   #35

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June 10, 1942 - Lidice. 252 civilians murdered by the Nazis in a reprisal for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by two Czech patriots.

Same day, same month two years later - Oradour sur Glane, France. 642 civilians murdered by a Waffen SS Panzer Division. No adequate explanation for that war crime has ever been given.

Same day, month and year - Distomo, Greece. 218 civilians murdered by the 4th SS Panzer Grenadiers.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 09:57 AM   #36

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Mixing English literature with history Henry V Act 4 Scene VII by William Shakespeare.

Enter FLUELLEN and GOWER

FLUELLEN Kill the poys and the luggage! 'tis expressly against the law of arms: 'tis as arrant a piece of knavery, mark you now, as can be offer't; in your conscience, now, is it not?

GOWER 'Tis certain there's not a boy left alive; and the cowardly rascals that ran from the battle ha' done this slaughter: besides, they have burned and carried away all that was in the king's tent; wherefore the king, most worthily, hath caused every soldier to cut his prisoner's throat. O, 'tis a gallant king!

KING HENRY V I was not angry since I came to France Until this instant. Take a trumpet, herald; Ride thou unto the horsemen on yon hill: If they will fight with us, bid them come down, Or void the field; they do offend our sight: If they'll do neither, we will come to them, And make them skirr away, as swift as stones. Enforced from the old Assyrian slings: Besides, we'll cut the throats of those we have, And not a man of them that we shall take Shall taste our mercy. Go and tell them so.

Last edited by Res Ipsa Loquitur; January 2nd, 2018 at 10:03 AM.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 10:28 AM   #37

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After the Battle of Culloden Moor - the last major battle fought on British soil. William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland was hated by many.

Cumberland was seen by Jacobites and his English Tory opponents as a cruel and vindictive man, and awarded the nickname ‘Butcher Cumberland’. His terrible reputation sprang, however, not so much from the events at Culloden as from his violent reprisals in the Highlands following Culloden.

Cumberland stayed in Scotland for several months, establishing himself at Fort Augustus (which was in fact named after him and is situated on the shores of Loch Ness). He sent out troops all over the Highlands, with standing orders to kill anyone suspected of having been in the Jacobite army. In practice, many Scots who had taken no active part in the Rising were targeted; even women and children were driven out of their homes and murdered. The Highland economy was ravaged, as farms were razed to the ground and livestock rounded up and stolen. Even after Cumberland left for London in triumph, Highlanders were left to suffer the ongoing depredations of British soldiers.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 10:46 AM   #38

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Originally Posted by SirOrmondeWinter View Post
Nagasaki was a major port and Hiroshima was home to 3 army divisions.
cities were deliberately chosen by their geographical position, their size, the fact that were mostly wooden building, everything in order to maximize the damage and the fact that hadn't previously being bombed. ( bombs were still underpowered and obtaining the psichological effect of obliterating a city was important and much more impressive than just saying you obliterated part of Osaka for example ) the fact that they were military targets is just the finger where people hide. During a war You can probably randomly point a finger on a map and come up with an excuse why that point is a military target.
We also can still talk about Hamburg or Cologne, those were explicit terror bombings with no military interest whatsoever, the idea was plain and simple to obliterate cities and obtain maximum damage and maximum casualties, i don't know if you're familiar with the very concept of firestorm. The practice of terror bombing was adopted accepted and pursued during ww2, saying "oh but hiroshima was a military target" just makes the discussion dull.

Last edited by gustavolapizza; January 2nd, 2018 at 10:55 AM.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 10:53 AM   #39

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To this we could add a related consideration: why not Tokyo?

To leave someone who was in condition to surrender and to have a working administrative structure to manage the country after the military occupation. The death of the Emperor and of the commanders of the Japanese Army, with the total destruction of the central administration, would have meant a giant question mark about what was going to happen ... and a tremendous confusion.
because posssibly there was nothing more to bomb in tokyo. Tokyo bombing prior to the two nukes caused more deaths than the 2 nukes put togheter, people tend to overlook this fact when they talk about the nukes. that would have been overkill on an unnecessary scale. Also you wouldnt be able to study the aftermath and the effects of the new bomb if you were not using it on a pristine city.

Last edited by gustavolapizza; January 2nd, 2018 at 10:56 AM.
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Old January 2nd, 2018, 11:05 AM   #40

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by the way the nukes are a perfect example on how morality and good and evil are shady concepts that take different shapes accordingly to how you consider them.

is killing a person considered an evil thing to do? generally yes.
is killing a person who is trying to push a guy on the rails still an evil thing to do? one would love more details about the situation but it's easier to say in this case it is not.
is killing a person who is trying to push a guy on the rails in order to stop a train who is going to crash into a city station the right thing to do or should you let him kill that person in order to save all those people? here becomes shady.
what if among those people you're going to save there's the next adolf hitler? and from here you completely lose any ability to morally judge the situation.
what if in the train station that you're going to save there are both the next adolf hitler and the guy that will find the cure to cancer?
and so on.
these are things that in philosophy are debated since forever.

i think calling events evil or good is simply pointless. You can judge the people commicting those events. You can ask if the guy that decided to drop the bomb on hiroshima was hoping to save more people than he was going to kill or was simply frustrated by the war and just wanted revenge killing as many japanese people as he could. You can judge if he know that Japan wanted to surrender and didn't care, if he had possible alternatives and he decided to go for the nuke cause it was easier and faster and so on. You can judge his motivation and decide if he was evil, incompetent or took a corageous decision that few people would have taken resonsability of.

Going back to the nukes. were they necessary to end the war? some say yes, some say no it's still debated. In the end japan as a whole has even probably benefited from it, russians were steamrolling them in asia, post war japan could have risked to find itmself in the same situation of germany or korea or vietnam, with one foot in communism and the other in capitalism, not the best for a nation.
We can judge what happend but we can't never know for sure what could or would have happened.

Did they save lives, not during the war itself but after, during the cold war, when people were aware that a war between two nuclear powers would have ment Mutual assured destruction and therefore they avoided it cause they had in the eyes the images of the suffering of hiroshima and nagasaki?
I say yes, Without those two nukes the cold war would have been much different, probably much worse, i don't think humans would have been so wise to not try in war the nukes even once. So we were they a necessary evil at least in that sense? most probably yes.
But again it depends who you ask, don't think that a vietnamese, an afghan, a cuban or a chilean guy are much happy about what the cold war ment for them cause since urss and usa couldnt fight each others directly they just engaged in all these proxy wars and toppling government ****in all other different countries instead of their own. And i don't think than an hibakusha is much happy to know his 50 years of suffering had prevented a nuclear holocaust, it's like saying that a guy on the titanic should be happy cause safety on ships improved after that incident.

Last edited by gustavolapizza; January 2nd, 2018 at 11:27 AM.
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