3 Responses

  1. Warfighting always leads to atrocities and warcrimes: too bloody right.

  2. With all due respect I find this is too cavalier an attitude. While I all for not fighting wars it nevertheless helps to mitigate some of the atrocities if certain humanitarian rules are followed. This was even true for WWII when Germany and the allies restrained from using chemical warfare and observed the Geneva convention for prisoners of war.

    There is no doubt that the first ever mass air raid that destroyed Guernica during the Spanish civil war constituted a war crime. Unfortunately instead if codifying the use of air force against civilians as war crime the US and UK pushed back on it when the the fourth Geneva convention of 1949 was negotiated since they feared an admission of guilt for their systematic “area bombing” of German and Japanese civilians.

    War has been a terrible constant throughout human history. There is little expectation that this is going to change. Any effort to dull its teeth through implementation of rules of conduct, field manuals, disarmament agreements and international treaties etc. are worthwhile exercises that deserve the fullest political support.

    I understand that this is a blog and don’t expect the rigorousness of an academic paper. Nevertheless for a historian of your standing this statement is just too glib and simplistic:

    The only way not to commit atrocities and war crimes is not to fight wars.

    Wars will be fought. If you accept that premise then we should be motivated to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

  3. Alas, it isn’t American, it is just industrialized warfare.

    The trend towards greater distance in warfare has been on-going since the 16th and 17th centuries, which is why I always found it bizarre when people complain about it.

    Moreover, even “precision weaponry” isn’t 100% precise. It’s much, much more precise than what came before though – just look at the number of sorties and bombs it took in Vietnam to destroy targets, compared to those in the First Gulf War.

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