From: Billy Brown (
Date: Fri May 26 2000 - 10:46:15 MDT

Technotranscendence wrote:
> No time to comment on everything this morning, but the above point of view
> clearly means Lorrey means anything and everything can be redefined as a
> military target. In other words, any war is always total war and any
> engaging in war that thinks it has right on its side -- and what nation
> going to war claims it doesn't -- can bomb and kill indiscriminately.

One of the unpleasant realities of real wars (as opposed to minor border
skirmishes and whitewashed histories) is that the supposed rules of war are
simply a propaganda tool. They are respected when nothing important is at
stake, or when it looks like there is a good opportunity for positive press.
However, when in major wars where millions of lives are at stake they are
quite properly jettisoned at need.

It seems reasonable to judge American conduct in the Balkans, or even the
Gulf War, by the standards of 'civilized warfare', since in both cases
America was not actually at risk and was simply enforcing foreign policy
decisions using military power. However, WWI and WWII are another kettle of
fish - in a real war there is no such thing as a non-military target, and
preserving millions of your own civilians takes precedence over trying not
to kill conscientious objectors on the other side.

> The Soviets actually asked the British and Americans to target the city.
> Tens of thousands were killed. The military targets in Dresden were road
> and rail centers. In order to minimize civilian and refugee deaths, all
> that would have been necessary was targeting these outside the city. The
> bombing took place in February of 1945. The war ended a few months later.
> This was not material to ending the war -- any more than turning over
> to the Soviets after the war was material to keeping the peace.

In WWII it was not possible for strategic bombers to target roads,
railroads, or anything else much smaller than a football stadium - and
really, if your target was smaller than a city you had to plan on lots and
lots of misses. The only practical way to attack the transport net with
strategic bombers was to carpet bomb the entire region around a railroad

> Yugoslavia is interesting in another way. The US had no vital interest
> there. It did not affect any US allies in a big way. (If it did, why has
> the trouble in the Balkans for the last ten years not bothered them?)
> US policy in the region has been markedly pro-Islamic and pro-German. I'm
> not trying to bring a conspiracy angle in here, but it's strange to see
> US standing by while Croatia cleansed itself of Serbs by the tens of
> thousands, while not being able stand Serbia hold on to Kosovo and the
> toll being orders of magnitude smaller. (Croatia is a nation which
> celebrates its alliance to Nazi Germany and exterminated approximately a
> third of its population during WW2. This does NOT mean I'm prepared to
> support a bombing campaign against Croatia TV and rail lines, civilians or
> no.)

Here, I have to agree with you. It is hard to tell exactly what was really
happening in Yugoslavia before American intervention, but it seems clear
that most of what the American public has been told was exaggerated at best
(and at worst an outright lie). We had nothing to gain by getting involved,
and all our bombing campaign accomplished was to kill more people, create
more confusion, and give another group of people a good reason to hate

This is a good example of what America should NOT be doing. You can't solve
a longstanding ethnic or religious feud by waving the flag and bombing a few
buildings, and you generally can't overthrow a dictator without sending in
ground troops.

America (or at least its government) needs to realize that if you want an
intervention to work you have to actually bit the bullet and do it right -
send in ground troops, overthrow the dictator, set up a representative
government, and keep troops in place for a couple of years until everyone
gets used to the idea of peace. In some places (like the Balkans) even that
isn't enough - we would have to resettle everyone at gunpoint, or send all
the children to re-education camps, or something equally unpalatable. In
such cases we need to learn to accept the fact that there simply isn't
anything we can do to make the situation better, and be content with not
making it worse.

Billy Brown
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