From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 00:00:20 MDT

On Wednesday, May 24, 2000 7:50 PM Michael S. Lorrey
> >
> Yes, I've included my comments, mainly pointing out where the writer is
> either forgetting something, or is completely wrong.

Of course. Was the writer ever right?

Before going on let me state, I don't agree with all that Mr. Thomas says in
his article. A lot of it is hyperbole -- of which I'm often guilty of
too!:/ -- and some of it appears to a piling on more and more arguments in
hopes that enough of them will be right to sway the reader to agree with all
of them. But I don't agree with Michael S. Lorrey's _seeming_ whitewash of
the US's role in every war mentioned in the article. (Note: I wrote
"seeming" there. I don't think Lorrey really believes that. I point this
out for the people on this list who like to put words in my posts that
weren't there or take them out when it will make their arguments appear
"better, stronger, faster.")

> >
> > by Raju G. C. Thomas
> >
> > Historical Justice
> >
> > The victors of wars habitually claim that God and morality
were on their side, and that they were incapable of committing crimes. Only
the anquished are> war criminals deserving of all the punishment. In the
Versailles Peace treaty of 1919, at end of the First World War, Germany was
punished severely through the> imposition of exorbitant economic
reparations. More significantly it was compelled, on French insistence, to
accept a "guilt clause." Some 19,000 soldiers were> identified by the
Entente powers as war criminals at the end of the First World War, none of
them British, French, Russian, or American.
> My comments:
> The American Army regularly punished its own who were found by courts
> martial to have committed war crimes, though I cannot speak for the
> British, French, or Russian armies (note that the Russian Army had
> pulled out of the war in 1917 after the Bolshevik Revolution and signed
> their own armistice with Germany separate from that of the western
> allies, one that included no guilt clause, and which made no demands for
> war crimes to be punished, indeed, the Bolsheviks punished the Czarist
> army officers themselves far more harshly than any other army officers
> were in the other armies, including the Germans.)

I think he is overgeneralizing here, though, usually, the losers in any war
are always the ones on trial. Currently, it looks like the Hague will not
hear the Yugoslav charge of war crimes against NATO. Shouldn't they, at
least, have their day in court? (And is bombing a commuter train with
people on it a war crime? Is bombing a TV station a war crime? What about
a sweage treatment plant or water pumping station? Last I heard, this were
not military targets.)

The specific example Raju G. C. Thomas uses is WW1. All nations do have
military courts to deal with bad conduct, though I think his point was that
in this particular war, no British, French, Russian, or Americans were
punished for particular war crimes. The Soviets don't really count because
they had a different ax to grind and, no doubt, their purpose in punishing
Czarist officers had more to do with their ideology and making sure there
were no strong threats to their regime than with war crimes per se.

> > The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firebombing of
Tokyo and Yokohama, the demolition of Dresden along with its civilians, were
> > subject to war crimes trials. The destruction of the people and land of
Vietnam over a period of ten years in the name of freedom are all but
forgotten. There were no> apologies made or compensations paid, but instead
the Vietnamese were subjected to American economic sanctions for the next
> My comments:
> Strategic carpet bombing of cities that contained defense facilities was
> considered by the US to be barbaric, at least in europe, which is why
> the US Army Air Forces all used the secret Norden bombing sight for far
> more precise bombing attacks on true military targets, while the
> british, who bombed at night, continued to use carpet bombing due to
> their bombers innacuracy, and the navigational limitations of flying at
> night.

I'll have to read up on this more. I've heard otherwise, but want to be
sure about this first. Certainly Dresden was not a military target and was
bombed specifically as a nonmilitary target. Only later did the Allies find
out they bombed a lot of POWs there.

> Carpet bombing of Japanese targets by the US was considered
> unfortunate, but considering the psychotic fanatical loyalty to the
> emperor of most Japanese people at the time, it was considered
> necessary, and considering the lack of respect for the Laws of War that
> the Japanese showed toward the Chinese people for eight years of prior
> warmaking, it was obvious they did not care to operate by the laws of
> war. Considering the lack of respect for human rights shown by the
> Germans for Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, Ukrainians, and others, it seems
> obvious in retrospect that the Germans had no reasonable expectation to
> see the allies respect the human rights that the Germans dismissed so
> willfully.

This sort of logic would justify anything. That kind of collectivistic
thinking is the basis for racism and bigotry of all sorts. I suppose the
Germans and Japanese who did not support their rulers or whose support was
immaterial or who were too young to even make such choices are somehow as
evil as the regime and its soldiers?

I'm not trying to whitewash the Axis nations here. Their governments were
dispacable, but does that justify any action taken against anyone living
within their borders?

> Likewise, in Vietnam, the US was assisting an internationally recognised
> government fight an insurgency backed by a foreign power (North Vietnam,
> Russia, and China). That the North Vietnamese Communists and the
> southern geurrilla communists refused to operate by the Laws of War when
> it was inconvenient for them to do so, but willingly hid behind them
> when it was to their advantage shows that they were not to be trusted to
> obey any international convention, and the fact they treated captured
> soldiers and pilots not as prisoners of war should be treated under the
> Geneva Conventions, but instead labeled them as 'pirates' and 'air
> pirates' so that they could legally torture, maim, brutalize, and kill
> with impunity, as well as the fact that the southern viet cong
> guerrillas frequently attacked completely peaceful civilian targets,
> non-combatants, and hospital facilities with terrorist bombs illustrates
> that they had and have no right to claim any sort of victimhood under
> the Laws of War.

I agree that North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were pretty much evil, but I
think the point is that the US government committed many acts of evil too.
In such cases, it is best to stay out of the conflict. The US also, recall,
helped to overthrow the elected government of South Vietnam.

> > As the Gulf War drew to its close and Iraq accepted an initial
cease-fire that the US rejected, American and British bombers continued to
kill thousands of
> > Iraqi soldiers fleeing across the open desert with no defense. This does
not qualify as a "Srebrenica." And nobody will know how many wounded Iraqi
soldiers were> buried alive in the sand by American military bulldozers
after the cease-fire because it was too much hassle to check every body
lying in the sand.
> My Comments:
> The Iraqis did not accept a cease fire until a full day AFTER the US
> declared unilateral cease fire had gone into effect. The US declared
> that it would cease operations at a given time and date, and the Iraqis
> did not respond until after US combat operations ceased. To counter the
> claims of the author, we will never know how many Kuwaiti women were
> saved from short lives as pleasure prisoners of Iraqi military units due
> to the air power induced panic imposed on the Iraqi forces. The raping
> and pillaging that the Iraqis committed on the Kuwaiti people, IMHO,
> obviated any moral requirement that the Iraqi soldiers be treated with
> any respect that normal soldiers deserve. Those soldiers were not
> unarmed, they were not non-combatants. Any who surrendered were given
> sanctuary, safety, shelter and food (which is far more than they
> received when they were released back to the Iraqi high command, who had
> most shot). Under the Laws of War, any armed soldier is a legitimate
> target, irrespective if he is charging or retreating. A wild dog who
> flees is just as likely to come back for another nip if you don't break
> him of the habit.

I generally agree here the Iraqi military, though I was and am against that
war and the continued bombings. I'm not for Saddam or his style of tyranny
(or any for that matter), but I don't see why civilian targets have to be
targetted and why the US should support the Kuwaiti regime, which is merely
another form of tyranny. Again, the Iraqi infrastructure and civilians who
were targetted were not military targets -- unless one broadens the
definition so much as to make the distinction arbitrary and useless.

And why does the bombing continue?

> > Some 1.7 million> innocent Iraqis, mainly children, have died slow
deaths because of economic sanctions. But there are no CNN cameras to record
this tragedy, and besides they died> because of well-intentioned US policy.
Such pain, suffering and tragedy do not count in the American concept of
morality. Meanwhile, Iraq is bombed routinely,
> > killing untold numbers of soldiers manning military installations or
merely sleeping in their barracks, together with other "unintended" Iraqi
civilians. These do not
> > count as war crimes. They are legitimate targets or collateral damage.
> yes they are. The children who die cannot be blamed on us. Saddam is
> quite free to import however much food and medicine as he desires.
> Unfortunately, he turns around and sells that food and medecine on the
> black market to generate money to pay for more weapons, weapons systems,
> and for building his weapons of mass destruction. This silly argument is
> much like the terrorist who shoots a hostage and says to the
> negotiator,"Look at what you made me do."

I don't think so. First, what is the goal of the sanctions? Do you think
they will achieve that goal? If it's to keep Saddam from doing whatever
bad he's doing, they are not working. Second, if a limitation of war is to
limit the pain and killing of innocents, then one must ask who do the
sanctions hurt more? To borrow Lorrey's analogy, imagine terrorists do take
a house in a neighborhood, would the police be justified in bombing the
whole city, killing thousands of innocents in the process? I don't think
so. I don't think Lorrey would think so either. Thus, the sanctions are an
inappropriate "weapon" here. The reasoning should never be "because X is
evil, any thing we do to stop X is okay, and we can blame X for all the
unintended consequences of our actions."

Notably, Saddam has not been stopped. He continues to rule and seek ways to
expand his power, the coalition against fell apart mainly because of the
US's and Britain's highhanded policy in the region, and the general lesson
every other nation and people is being taught is that might makes right.
Kosovo is much the same. Milosevic is still in power, now the KLA is
killing Kosovar Serbs, the genocide that never was is generally ignored
because it's not news, Serbia might be bombed out but it's army is intact,
and Russia used the American strategy to its advantage in Chechnya. (How
the two -- Chechnya and Yugoslavia -- are different is one that will have to
be explained to me.)

It's a shame that the American people will have to pay for these mistakes --
and not the politicians who make them. But that's the nature of the beast.


Daniel Ust

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:11:40 MDT