Sometimes war crimes are okay, right?

Homepage Forums Small Talk Sometimes war crimes are okay, right?

This topic contains 20 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  TheEncogitationer 3 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #44056

    Unseen
    Participant

    Amnesty International: Ukraine: Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians

    To be clear, AI isn’t alleging that Ukraine is in any way worse than Russia when it comes war crimes, but using civilians as human shields is a war crime under international law.

    However, the practice may be even worse than it looks at first glance because anyone who knows Russia’s relationship to international laws and rules of warfare knows that civilians make useless shields when fighting Russia. The presence of civilians—even including children and patients in hospitals—is no deterrent to a Russian attack. In fact, Russia often seems to carry out such attacks as psychological warfare to demoralize the target population.

    Why then would Ukraine put military emplacements in vulnerable civilian areas? Presumably, to generate bad publicity surrounding Russia and engender international sympathy and generosity for Ukraine.

    So, if it helps Ukraine defeat or stymie Russia, is the practice justified as a kind of kamikase defense? dooming innocent civilians to make gains on the battlefield and win support from abroad.

    So, to be clear, this question isn’t being raised to claim that Ukraine deserves to be invaded or defeated. Nor does it excuse Russia for its constant practice both in Ukraine and elsewhere of flouting international laws of war.

    Rather, the situation is being used to get us thinking about international rules governing conflicts.

    Do such rules make any sense?

    Would any country willingly lose a war if flouting such rules gave them a shot at winning?

     

    #44057

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Hmm, Ukraine’s military is supposed to just walk away and give up their cities to Russian war criminals (and now North Koreans too)? Nope. How stupid. Russia opened this war by rocketing and bombing their capital city full of civilians. Civilians are in the fight. I watched a video of an old man hunting down hapless Russian armored vehicles with an RPG. And then we have video of Russians castrating a POW. Would anybody want to surrender to them now?

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/07/ukraine-russian-soldiers-filmed-viciously-attacking-ukrainian-pow-must-face-justice/

     

    #44058

    Unseen
    Participant

    Hmm, Ukraine’s military is supposed to just walk away and give up their cities to Russian war criminals (and now North Koreans too)? Nope. How stupid. Russia opened this war by rocketing and bombing their capital city full of civilians. Civilians are in the fight. I watched a video of an old man hunting down hapless Russian armored vehicles with an RPG. And then we have video of Russians castrating a POW. Would anybody want to surrender to them now? https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/07/ukraine-russian-soldiers-filmed-viciously-attacking-ukrainian-pow-must-face-justice/

    In the yes/no context, I’m putting you in the “War crimes are sometimes OK” column.

    #44101

    Unseen
    Participant

    “My people, I’m sorry to inform you that we have surrendered to our enemy. We had no choice. We could have won but it would have involved committing war crimes and as you know, keeping our hands clean and cleaving to the moral high ground is more important than evading the plunder and enslavement of losing.”

    Would we want a leader who would let us lose to an oppressor rather than engage in actions forbidden by international law?

    #44102

    Autumn
    Participant

    International law is not necessarily my threshold, but I’d rather my nation lose a war than engage in tactics which put involuntary participants in the cross hairs, especially children who cannot consent to the risk. I mean, given the option to flee and seek refuge, I might accept able bodied people of a certain age can decide for themselves if they want to risk remaining in such an area. No person should be asked to make such a decision, but the situation is already inherently unfair.

    My life isn’t worth protecting at the cost of someone else’s life who posed no threat. And our nation is an artificial construct not worth preserving at the cost of becoming slaughterers again.

    I’m not an absolutist. In a war of defence, it’s not necessarily possible to draw perfect neat and tidy lines around every moral conviction and every tactical decision. It’s a situation with inherent risk, and there will be a certain calculus determining who lives and who dies. But that shouldn’t equate to using non-combatants as sacrificial pawns or a total callous indifference to collateral civilian casualties. Were I in command and I either orchestrated or authorized such tactics, then I should be tried after the dust had settled (or possibly before), or maybe just kill myself. Why the fuck do I get to live on? No, that’s not right.

    #44107

    Davis
    Moderator

    But that shouldn’t equate to using non-combatants as sacrificial pawns or a total callous indifference to collateral civilian casualties.

    Having any rules of war is meaningless if non-combatants are disposable. If you can pick off civilians as part of some other strategic aim, then why not just bomb a school for some aim or mustard gas people for some aim or drop a second nuclear bomb on a city for some other aim (or suicide blow up a bus for some aim). No strategic interests of the nation I live in are worth justifying slaughtering civilians in another country. That’s just sociopathy.

    #44108

    Unseen
    Participant

    But that shouldn’t equate to using non-combatants as sacrificial pawns or a total callous indifference to collateral civilian casualties.

    Having any rules of war is meaningless if non-combatants are disposable. If you can pick off civilians as part of some other strategic aim, then why not just bomb a school for some aim or mustard gas people for some aim or drop a second nuclear bomb on a city for some other aim (or suicide blow up a bus for some aim). No strategic interests of the nation I live in are worth justifying slaughtering civilians in another country. That’s just sociopathy.

    It needn’t involve noncombatants. For example, in the Soviet-Afghan War, the Taliban would behead captured Russian soldiers. News of this circumstance reaching the Russian public helped Russia decide to cut and run.

    Lately, Ukraine mistreats Russian prisoners, shooting captured and bound soldiers in the leg and more recently castrating a captured Russian. Perhaps they’re taking a page from the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan.

    I know Russians mistreat prisoners as well.

    #44137

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Unseen,

    While military forces should not locate among civilians, they may have to locate on the periphery of cities, towns, or other bodies of civilians to keep enemy attacks at bay.

    In the course of doing so, enemy fire may hit civilians when it misses the defending military, but in that case, the fault is with the attacking enemy, not the friendly military.

    A best practice of a nation’s defense would be to encourage Civil Defense or Emergency Preparedness among civilians, both sheltering-in-place and bugging-out when conditions are too dangerous to stay. This way, civilians can keep themselves out of harm’s way as best as possible when wàr is ongoing.

    #44140

    Unseen
    Participant
    @Enco
    You didn’t answer the question, you dodged it. It’s not about when a  country is backed into a corner tactically with no good choices left. It’s more about using a war crime strategically or opportunistically to win or gain advantage rather than done regretfully in order to survive.
    Let’s discuss a real world example:
    The U.S. dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki not out of desperation—after all, Japan was thoroughly whipped and virtually helpless with both its air force and navy thoroughly defeated—but rather to secure their surrender expeditiously. The U.S. and the Allies were not  in need of protection from Japan, which is why the holocaust visited on the two cities is widely regarded as a war crime.
    Apologists for the Allies will say that the two cities were sacrificed to save lives and there’s little doubt that’s absolutely what it did. Subsequent events have proven that Japan is far better off than had they engaged in a protracted war of resistance,  certainly costing far more Japanese civilian lives than the lives of American soldiers.
    Had Japan not been forced to surrender due to the nuclear attacks, would it today have the world’s third largest economy? It’s doubtful.
    #44141

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, dya think Japan would have surrendered if Allies had simply dumped one in the ocean and maybe caused a tidal wave or tsunami? Then give the message that failure to surrender immediately will result in same weapon delivered to Tokyo and all major cities.

    In general savagery is the rule in warfare. The rules don’t mean much unless it is a prosecution in the aftermath and then lots of war criminals go their merry way.

    #44142

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Unseen, dya think Japan would have surrendered if Allies had simply dumped one in the ocean and maybe caused a tidal wave or tsunami? Then give the message that failure to surrender immediately will result in same weapon delivered to Tokyo and all major cities. In general savagery is the rule in warfare. The rules don’t mean much unless it is a prosecution in the aftermath and then lots of war criminals go their merry way.

    They would not have given up. Truman announced that we had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Japanese scientists validated that yes, it was an atomic bomb. Despite that and the Russian invasion/war declaration, Japanese leadership still could not agree to surrender. They may have also thought a warning shot was a bluff. Why not just destroy our enemy if we had more weapons?

    #44143

    Unseen
    Participant

    @Enco @jake @robert

    So, I guess the consensus is that, yeah, sometimes war crimes are okay.

    #44144

    _Robert_
    Participant

    @Enco @jake @robert So, I guess the consensus is that, yeah, sometimes war crimes are okay.

    It would have been a much worse war crime not to drop the bomb, IMO.

    I feel that a defending nation that has been violently attacked by an invader nation naturally has a softer moral standard because starting a war to gain territory, money, power, or to just to push their ideology is just about the worst crime possible.

    And this includes the US invasions of Mexico, Viet Nam and Iraq.

    It is a shame that we need to have countries and borders at all but homo sapiens are known to be great killers.

    #44145

    jakelafort
    Participant

    I am not giving war crimes a pass. Hell no!

    Just saying it is reality. The brutality, cruelty, barbarism of humans is unleashed on the micro and macro level in war. And we humans just keep repeating tired defeatist patterns of behavior. I had to reflect for a few days before i came to a decision as to the right path in Ukraine. Just like everyone else i reacted viscerally to Russia’s aggression.

    After consideration and admitting my limited knowledge it seemed to me a diplomatic solution was possible. It is kind of disingenuous to point at Putin now as a tyrant and a psychopath when we knew that in advance. The potential consequences of supporting Ukraine and keeping a war alive seems/seemed to me far worse than ceding some land and agreeing to certain terms. The net suffering shot up immesurabley.

    Some of the condequences are/were forseeable and others were not. Perhaps algorithms or experts in certain areas might have suspected more of the consequences. To me it is unconscionable that we subject the world to potential of nuclear war. It is unconscionable that the poorest nations with the poorest people have suffered in the bargain. Those are the same people we never seem to help. I never buy that we do anything for humanitarian reasons. I think we have set up a much more dangerous future in terms of a bloc including at least China, Russia and North Korea. It is a dangerous precedent to intervene in the territorial disputes of super powers and it heightens the risk of nuclear war and the accumulation of unspeakable consequences.

    How do we change the dynamic? Do we just allow history and its march of folly to lead us off the cliff?

    #44147

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I am not giving war crimes a pass. Hell no! Just saying it is reality. The brutality, cruelty, barbarism of humans is unleashed on the micro and macro level in war. And we humans just keep repeating tired defeatist patterns of behavior. I had to reflect for a few days before i came to a decision as to the right path in Ukraine. Just like everyone else i reacted viscerally to Russia’s aggression. After consideration and admitting my limited knowledge it seemed to me a diplomatic solution was possible. It is kind of disingenuous to point at Putin now as a tyrant and a psychopath when we knew that in advance. The potential consequences of supporting Ukraine and keeping a war alive seems/seemed to me far worse than ceding some land and agreeing to certain terms. The net suffering shot up immesurabley. Some of the condequences are/were forseeable and others were not. Perhaps algorithms or experts in certain areas might have suspected more of the consequences. To me it is unconscionable that we subject the world to potential of nuclear war. It is unconscionable that the poorest nations with the poorest people have suffered in the bargain. Those are the same people we never seem to help. I never buy that we do anything for humanitarian reasons. I think we have set up a much more dangerous future in terms of a bloc including at least China, Russia and North Korea. It is a dangerous precedent to intervene in the territorial disputes of super powers and it heightens the risk of nuclear war and the accumulation of unspeakable consequences. How do we change the dynamic? Do we just allow history and its march of folly to lead us off the cliff?

    I consider that allowing Putin to do as he pleases and to just let him get strong would eventually endanger the planet with nuclear war to a much greater degree than now.

    Hitler played the Allies through fear. He annexed and invaded his neighbors freely for years and his balls got bigger and that ultimately lead to the worse state of war ever and use of atomic weapons.

    Putin is worried. He has not installed conscription yet and he has not even killed opposition leader Alexei Navalny in jail yet. Moscow is barely affected. The hundreds of dying Russian soldiers each day are from the outskirts and backwaters. Why, I wonder? Because he knows what happened to Khaddaffi and Mussolini. Ukraine is winning the war of logistics and attrition and eventually Putin will backdown and declare a victory.

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