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Laws of War?!?

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Laws of War?!?

Postby Amnorix » Tue Mar 25, 2003 8:52 am

This is a snippet from CNN.com:

Marines told Harris that they were seeing an apparent pattern developing, in which unarmed Iraqis wearing traditional robes see the U.S. forces go by, then disappear into their homes and emerge with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles, which they then fire at the Marines.

The Pentagon lashed out against such unconventional tactics Monday, calling the attacks "deadly deception" that mark "serious violations of the laws of war."



While obviously I regret the loss of life the Iraqi tactics are causing, this is one of the most moronic comments I have ever seen. I could go on and on about this, but let's just skip all that and refer to a quote by some bozo that someone in the Pentagon has hopefully heard of:

All war is deception.
---Sun Tzu
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Postby metsfan1969 » Tue Mar 25, 2003 12:08 pm

Amnorix,

Even in war there are unwritten codes to follow. It's like when you are in a fight and the other guy tries to kick you (you know where). All of a sudden the encounter escalates. You can tell I am kinda old school, but that's the way I look at it. I do think, however, that in a war each side should be ready for any eventuality. We are much bigger, stronger, and technologically advanced. We should expect stealth and cunning from our adversary.

In Vietnam we couldn't tell the bad guys from the good guys (?) why should it be any different now?

Rules of engagement go back way way beyond all of this. There is a certain honor in war that maybe we, as civilians, cannot understand or comprehend. To the general public, this quote in and of itself may seem ridiculous, but some things are to be expected I suppose. I would expect Iraq to do whatever it could to win, or at least garner some sense of accomplishment coming out of this engagement.
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Postby Amnorix » Tue Mar 25, 2003 12:40 pm

Although I have never had the honor of serving in our armed forces (and I do believe it to be an honor) I am hardly unfamiliar with military history.

Nonetheless, War is Deception. That becomes all the more true when, out of utter and sheer desperation, one side must resort to every stinking dirty trick in the book in order to avoid annihilation. If I knew that the person I was fighting literally wanted to kill me, then damn straight I'm going to kick him (you know where).

I can understand being quite annoyed at these kinds of tactics, because they're not "fair" in many respects. Its certainly not part of an honorable warrior's code to do these things. Nonetheless, under these circumstances, I'm hardly surprised to see these tactics, and neither should the Pentagon.

I greatly fear that this situation will turn into another Vietnam. Not in the sense of a war we can't win -- we definitely can because the tactical considerations of fighting in a desert greatly favor us, but rather that we are not going to be able to pacify the country, and we will get dragged into a bottomless swamp from which we find it nearly impossible to extricate ourselves. I hope this doesn't turn out to be the case, but I fear it, especially since Muslim "freedom fighters" will be converging from all over the Middle East.
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Postby EugeneStyles » Tue Mar 25, 2003 6:17 pm

There was a war, about 230 years ago when British forces were apalled at the disregard for rules of warfare shown by their opponents. Unconventional tactics were probably the main reason that the US won that war.

I'm not saying that the tricks being played by the Iraqis aren't underhanded and dirty. But I know I wouldn't want to play fair if my country was being invaded. Our leaders have, to some degree, called this upon themselves by turning this into a propaganda war, dropping leaflets urging the enemy to surrender and explaining how best to show that they are unarmed. Remember, the Nazis dropped leaflets on countries they invaded. Now we somehow expect the enemy to surrender, which makes their fake surrenders all the more believable and deadly.

I have a great deal of fear for our countrymen that are now deep into hostile territory... They can't possibly (and shouldn't) attack every civilian they see, but they must be afraid for their lives at every moment... Any little poverty-stricken town could be a cover for Iraqi troops, every overgrown field could hide tanks and missle-launchers. And those sandstorms can't be much fun to fight through either. I can't help but think that we could have planned for all this though, if we hadn't been so hasty to jump in. Here's hoping this isn't another Vietnam.
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Postby Oat Soda » Wed Mar 26, 2003 1:58 am

Deception in war is making a frontal demonstration to keep the enemy's attention away from the fact you've sent a stronger force in a big left hook to smash his flank.

Deception is NOT pretending to be civilian, then opening fire and thus endangering innocent people in the future. It's not that it's "unfair," it's evil, plain and simple. Any commander who employs such a scheme should be hanged.

The Americans' "dirty" tactics 230 years ago were such awful things as shooting from behind trees rather than lining up in an open field. There is no comparison.
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Postby EugeneStyles » Wed Mar 26, 2003 3:42 am

Oat Soda wrote:The Americans' "dirty" tactics 230 years ago were such awful things as shooting from behind trees rather than lining up in an open field. There is no comparison.


At the time, it was considered to be against the rules of warfare. We used dirty tactics because we were fighting for our freedom and we felt it was justified (and I'm rather glad we did... British rule wasn't terribly oppressive by today's standards, but being ruled from across the ocean would've been a real drag). The Iraqis are fighting for their own freedom, and even though they are pretty much guaranteed to lose this war, I'm sure they feel justified as well. As evil as our propaganda makes Saddam and his troops out to be, you have to understand that they see us as being just as evil (edit: for the record, I'm not saying that Saddam Hussein isn't evil - he's definitely a crazed lunatic... but like a badger, I think he's more dangerous when he's cornered). There are two sides to every story. The Bush administration is trying very hard to make everyone else believe their propaganda, but it's dangerous to believe it themselves. If they think that Iraqi citizens are happy to be invaded, they're just fooling themselves.
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Postby Oat Soda » Wed Mar 26, 2003 5:05 am

Styles, I'm not talking about politics or propaganda or military objectives or freedom or who's fighting for what cause or anything like that.

I'm saying posing as civilians and then opening fire on your enemy is evil, no matter what your reason. As soon as an invading force considers civilians a possible threat, ALL civilians, innocent or not, are in danger. That is why it's evil and, as such, has ALWAYS been a war crime (i.e., against the "rules" of war).

And thanks for not flaming. I generally avoid these kinds of threads because of brain-dead losers who do that crap.
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Postby Amnorix » Wed Mar 26, 2003 10:45 am

Oat Soda: What is your position on the firebombing of cities? Is that "fair"? Is using an atomic bomb fair when one side has 'em and the other doesn't? If the justification for dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the saving of US lives in an expensive and bloody assault on the Japanese homeland, then what is the exact number of US lives that would need to be saved to make such an attack justified? Kindly pick any number between one and the entire population of the US in August, 1945.

Such discussions are a waste of time, for ivory tower types with nothing better to do than try to ask a question that might be slightly more interesting than "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin".

The bottom line is that desperate opponents will resort to desperate tactics. We can cry foul play all we want, but the reality is that when an overwhelming force invades another country, they should expect nothing less than the use of every dirty trick in the book, because it's a preferable tactical option to getting annihilated. We saw it in Vietnam, and we're seeing it again now. Whether Iraq "turns into" another Vietnam in some ways remains to be seen, of course.
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Postby metsfan1969 » Wed Mar 26, 2003 5:31 pm

Oat Soda wrote:I'm saying posing as civilians and then opening fire on your enemy is evil, no matter what your reason. As soon as an invading force considers civilians a possible threat, ALL civilians, innocent or not, are in danger. That is why it's evil and, as such, has ALWAYS been a war crime (i.e., against the "rules" of war).


Yes, and this kind of tactic begs the question:"who is more dangerous to the people of Iraq, the US for trying to liberate them or Saddam and his generals instructing their soldiers to dress in their civilian camouflage and thus put all civilians at risk".

I will however, go back to my original point having said the above. "We are much bigger, stronger, and technologically advanced. We should expect stealth and cunning from our adversary.
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Postby Guest » Thu Mar 27, 2003 8:39 pm

Amnorix: No, the better option to annihilation is to surrender rather than endanger civilians and then be annihilated.

Metsfan: By definition, what the Iraqis are doing cannot be considered "cunning." Look up the word. And I'm not arguing that we shouldn't have expected it.
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