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Old December 31st, 2017, 05:26 PM   #1

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War crimes vs. necessary evil


What is the difference between killing a civilian to save ten of your buddies, and killing 200,000 civilians to save a 1,000,000?
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Old December 31st, 2017, 05:27 PM   #2

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Whether you're on the winning side.
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Old December 31st, 2017, 06:06 PM   #3

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What is the difference between killing a civilian to save ten of your buddies, and killing 200,000 civilians to save a 1,000,000?
A war crime is an act which breaks the internationally agreed rules of war, nothing more.
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Old December 31st, 2017, 06:18 PM   #4

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A war crime is an act which breaks the internationally agreed rules of war, nothing more.
You're clearly avoiding the point, but I'll put it plainly:
Why do we see the murder of thousands of civilians during the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (for example) as acceptable, but when faced with the same kind of odds elsewhere, or at a smaller scale, we find it unacceptable?
The atomic bombings are often justified with numbers such as "an estimated million soldiers would've died if Japan would've been taken by conventional means'. So the magic ratio is 1:5? If I can save 5 of my countrymen, everything is merited? Or are we all horribly hypocritical? Or don't the same rules apply when we're talking small vs. big scale?
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Old December 31st, 2017, 08:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Wallach View Post
You're clearly avoiding the point, but I'll put it plainly:
Why do we see the murder of thousands of civilians during the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (for example) as acceptable, but when faced with the same kind of odds elsewhere, or at a smaller scale, we find it unacceptable?
The atomic bombings are often justified with numbers such as "an estimated million soldiers would've died if Japan would've been taken by conventional means'. So the magic ratio is 1:5? If I can save 5 of my countrymen, everything is merited? Or are we all horribly hypocritical? Or don't the same rules apply when we're talking small vs. big scale?
If the Axis forces had won WWII then events such as Dresden, Nagasaki and the Dambusters raid would have been seen as warcrimes. Certainly the Nazis referred to the RAF bombing as terror attacks.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 01:26 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallach View Post
You're clearly avoiding the point, but I'll put it plainly:
Why do we see the murder of thousands of civilians during the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima (for example) as acceptable, but when faced with the same kind of odds elsewhere, or at a smaller scale, we find it unacceptable?
The atomic bombings are often justified with numbers such as "an estimated million soldiers would've died if Japan would've been taken by conventional means'. So the magic ratio is 1:5? If I can save 5 of my countrymen, everything is merited? Or are we all horribly hypocritical? Or don't the same rules apply when we're talking small vs. big scale?
I don't grasp the context: during the Partisan war in Northern Italy, Italian Partisans didn't hesitate to kill a German soldier to avoid raids or to avoid he raped or killed a family in a mountain village. A German soldier was a dead man walking for the Partisans.

You are mixing different things, I'm a afraid. The detection of a war crime doesn't depend on how many civilians or soldiers you kill [or rape ... or torture ... or other], it depends on how you do it.

Some behaviors are criminal in its own nature [like to rape 1,000 young women to give sons to your race or to avoid that they generate Muslim children ...], some other behaviors are criminal depending on the context.

A typical example is the interrogation of a war prisoner. Modern techs [think to Gimto, Guantanamo] are substantially tortures [and also without that "substantially"], but they are justified by the context. Or not ... there is still a political debate in progress about this.

After WWII there was a consensus, among the winning powers, about which behaviors during a war were crimes and how to apply the Geneva Conventions [which became four in 1949 when the powers adopted them in their final form].
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Old January 1st, 2018, 01:44 AM   #7

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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.

If you shoot lots of civilians in village of old men and females, and maybe rape a few women and kids first its a war crime. You didn’t Save your buddies lives. Arguably you’ve endangered it.... as now you’ve turned people against you. Killing civilians for fun/pleasure/deliberately is a war crime. Killing them by accident/incidentally is not.

If a sniper shoots at you kills your mate then tries to surrender and you shoot him before accepting his surrender. Not a war crime. He was still a combatant.

If you take some prisoners and then round them up and shoot them it’s a war crime. Once you accept their surrender they are no longer combatants.

If the enemy is a potential threat, suicide bomb/holding a weapon shooting them is not a crime. If they are not a threat ... lying in a hospital bed then it’s a war crime.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 01:55 AM   #8

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There will be times killing civilians might be necessary.
If your manning a checkpoint and a car speeds towards you do you open fire after they refuse to stop or hold fire.

Most will shoot. It could be gunmen or a suicide bomb. Not shooting might get you killed, your mates killed and other civilians killed. If its not an attack but a joy rider/criminal/drunk /someone asleep at the wheel... then that’s unfortunate but not a war crime.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 02:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edric Streona View Post
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. Youíve saved lots of lives yours and theirs. Itís not a war crime.

If you shoot lots of civilians in village of old men and females, and maybe rape a few women and kids first its a war crime. You didnít Save your buddies lives. Arguably youíve endangered it.... as now youíve turned people against you. Killing civilians for fun/pleasure/deliberately is a war crime. Killing them by accident/incidentally is not.

If a sniper shoots at you kills your mate then tries to surrender and you shoot him before accepting his surrender. Not a war crime. He was still a combatant.

If you take some prisoners and then round them up and shoot them itís a war crime. Once you accept their surrender they are no longer combatants.

If the enemy is a potential threat, suicide bomb/holding a weapon shooting them is not a crime. If they are not a threat ... lying in a hospital bed then itís a war crime.
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.
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Old January 1st, 2018, 02:19 AM   #10
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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?

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?

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?

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.

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.

It's a fine line, and as has been said, it is the victors who decide where it lies.
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