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Old November 18th, 2012, 05:44 AM   #21
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What of the air campaigns of World War Two by the United States and Britain? Cities were bombed with incendiary devices for maximum effect.

Those words do not state the obvious: Civilians are going to be killed in the hundreds of thousands by fire. There is no other way of defining it, that is what happened. Yes, it helped the war effort for both the US and Britain. People were hung in Germany and Japan after the war for war crimes. Soldiers from the US and Britain were safe from prosecution. I don't believe they should have been prosecuted, I believe that at that very time in history, firebombing was a valid weapon of war that had to be used. I am not really sure what I am trying to say with this.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 06:33 AM   #22
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Curtis LeMay had this to say on the subject.

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Killing Japanese didn't bother me very much at the time....I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal....every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you're not a good soldier.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 07:55 AM   #23
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I take it your point is that atrocities are far more common in war than we would like to believe. To the victors go the spoils, to the vanquished go prosecution for war crimes.
Nice summary.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 08:25 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by redcoat View Post
Before this thread gets under way I would like to point out something.
An atrocity is an act which is considered to be shocking
If something is described as an atrocity it does not mean it is a war crime, because a war crime is only an act which breaks the internationally accepted rules of war.
For example; In WW2 shooting at a pilot baling out of his aircraft may be described as an atrocity, but as it was not against the rules of war at this time it cannot be described as a war crime.
I disagree with this.

An atrocity by definition is a war crime but not every war crime is an atrocity.

Shooting one prisoner is a war crime, herding 50 or so into a barn and setting it on fire is an atrocity.
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Old November 18th, 2012, 08:58 AM   #25

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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
I disagree with this.

An atrocity by definition is a war crime but not every war crime is an atrocity.

Shooting one prisoner is a war crime, herding 50 or so into a barn and setting it on fire is an atrocity.
I agree with this. I would also agree with the position of, what ever the internationally agreed to conventions of war are, history bears out the tendency of selective applications on the part of victors in determining what a war crime, atrocity, or crimes against humanity are. Admiral Doernitz at Nuremburg has always been a puzzler to me. Unilateral definitions of soldier vs. enemy combatants during the conduct of a war may serve to mitigate actions by the offending nation to it's own people, but does nothing to further the spirit and intent of convention agreements.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 01:42 PM   #26

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Nope.

Again; the Hague coventions are ignored whenever so is required.

And they are enforced just by the winner just on the other side .
Very true, but they are still recognised by all the major nations as the internationally agreed rules of war.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 01:53 PM   #27

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An atrocity by definition is a war crime ..
No, it isn't.
An atrocity according to the dictonary is a extremely cruel act; a horrid act of injustice, while a war crime is only an act which breaks the internationally agreed rules of war.
For example the bombing of Coventry or Dresden in WW2 can be classed as atrocities, but neither are war crimes.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 04:34 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by redcoat View Post
No, it isn't.
An atrocity according to the dictonary is a extremely cruel act; a horrid act of injustice, while a war crime is only an act which breaks the internationally agreed rules of war.
For example the bombing of Coventry or Dresden in WW2 can be classed as atrocities, but neither are war crimes.
An act of injustice is by definition, against the law

The bombing of Coventry was no more an atrocity than the bombing of any urban area such as Rotterdam, Berlin, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Hamburg, Cologne, Tokyo or Hiroshima

Why was Coventry special? It was by no means an atrocity.
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Old November 19th, 2012, 05:05 PM   #29
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Very true, but they are still recognised by all the major nations as the internationally agreed rules of war.
From an strict juridical standpoint your point couldn't be any more irrelevant, and you couldn't ignore that obvious fact.

For all the aforementioned reasons and more, those principles are simply no laws, period.

Again, Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior.
(Crimes Against Humanity, by Geoffrey Robertson, Penguin (2006) page 90)

At the risk of overstating the obvious again, no law could exist where there is simply no superior authority to enforce it.

And no, the parties involved simply couldn't be any "authority".

That would be simply the Jungle's Law, gangster justice at best.

They are just general recommendations of behavior at best, analogous to let say the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

That's exactly why neither the Hague conventions nor the Kyoto protocol include any provision on any punishment for the breach of any "law", i.e. recommendation.

Strictly speaking, as you can't ignore, by definition no crime could be committed if no law (true law) may exist to be broken in the first place.

That's exactly why the term "Crime of War" is empirically just an euphemism for victor's justice.

And that's exactly why the application of such rules at war is entirely at the discretion of any contender, especially of the winners.

Last edited by sylla1; November 19th, 2012 at 05:12 PM.
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