From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 04:32:42 MDT

Technotranscendence wrote:
> On Wednesday, May 24, 2000 7:50 PM Michael S. Lorrey
> wrote:
> > >
> >
> > 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.)

Any infrastructure facilities are strategic targets. TV station =
propaganda and military coordination capability that was in fact seized
by the milosevik government. The commuter train happened to be crossing
a bridge that was targeted, the train was not the target.

> 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.

I doubt very much that Mr Thomas knows or even cared to research any of
the court martial records of the US Army. As far as the Soviets are
concerned, the Bolsheviks charged them all with war crimes, mostly
against their own people. Whether they had an axe to grond or not is
irrelevant. They still punished more than any Germans got punished,
which contradicts Thomas' claims.

> > > The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firebombing of
> Tokyo and Yokohama, the demolition of Dresden along with its civilians, were
> not
> > > 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
> quarter-century.
> >
> > 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.

There was a very good documentary done on Dresden not too long ago. The
British were the ones who specifically ran a two wave HE and incindiary
mission against Dresden, while the Americans came along later with a
targeted mission against a neighboring military facility.

Now, are you saying the Germans were housing POWs in the city, as human
shields? That, in itself, is a war crime.

> > 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?

Not ANY action, however, people get the government they deserve. No its
not racist, it merely is true, although you might recall the level of
anti-japanese racism here during the war, even kids comic books were
using terms like 'nip', 'jap', 'slope', that sort of thing, so I suppose
you could lay some blame on racism, though, in fairness, you'd have to
look at what sort of racist propaganda the Japanese government was
spewing as well, which was significant, as they have always put
themselves up as a superior race. Ask any American who was in a Japanese
POW camp what THAT was like, if you want to know about war crimes, being
used as a subject in chemical and biological warfare experiments. And
consider the tens of thousands of 'comfort girls', the korean women
enslaved by the Imperial Army. Things like the Bataan Death March were
burned in the minds of many Americans by the time we got around to
bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Laws of War were created for a
reason, and they only work if all sides obey them. When one side stops
recognising them, then all gloves are off, and it is only the self
respect each side has for itself that restrains it. The Japanese and
Germans took the gloves off VERY early, and thus any action on our part
in response was justifiable.

> > 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.

They supported a Vietnamese General who overthrew the government that
was rife with corruption and penetrated by the insurgents. As stated
above, when you don't act in compliance with the Laws of War, when you
hide within the civilian population, when you dress as a civilian rather
than as a soldier, when you hide your military forces under and withing
civilian communities, when you forego conventional military
confrontation in favor of terrorist bombs, you give up your right to be
protected under the Laws of War, as you become criminals. The NVA had no
concern about the Law of War, and never obeyed them except when
conducting propaganda pieces for western media or hosting a tour for
Jane Fonda.

> > > 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?

The Kuwaiti government is not a regime, it is a democratically elected,
multi-party system. The parliament frequently votes against the Emir (as
it recently did when the Emir wrote a law giving women the right to
vote, the parliament voted it down).

What civilian targets are we talking about? The Iraqis have taken to
hiding their military sites now in civilian neighborhoods, to use the
communities as human shields. If those communities allow those units to
remain, and if they don't leave the area to avoid becoming statistics,
they are at least partly culpable in their own demise.

Using civilians as shields are war crimes.

> > > 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."

We don't kill the kids. Saddam has been importing ALL of the medicine he
needs to treat the kids. He simply is not letting it get to the kids,
get it? And your analogy has NOTHING to do with mine.

> 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.)

Well, there is little difference, with the sole exception being that
Serbs started killing ethnic albanians first, while in Chechnya, the
Chechens started killing Russians first. While Serbia is small enough
that we can do something about it, there is little we can do about
Russia except diplomatic protests.

> 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.

How are we going to pay for them?

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