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Attacking Civilians

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Genghis View Drop Down
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  Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Attacking Civilians
    Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 20:23

What do you think about deliberately attacking civilians?  Do you think it's always wrong?  Are there instances it would be acceptable?

I would do it in certain cases if I thought it would be useful and save my men's lives.  I also wouldn't do it if the population of the country I was attacking was lukewarm toward their government, bombing them could make them more supportive and that would be terrible.  I'd only do it if the enemy population supported the war.  I'll list some specific examples I would do it in:

1)I'm the leader of an army that is advancing deep into a densely populated country and is closing in on a city.  I receive word that an enemy division is moving fast toward the city.  I might bomb the city in the hopes of creating confusion and refugees to clog the roadways of the division to slow them down.

2)I'm the general of an army that is besieging an enemy city and I know that taknig it by force would be very costly.  To pull at my opponent's heart strings I might order my artillery to fire indiscriminately into the city to kill civilians.

3)If I'm the leader of a country at war, I'd have no problem blockading the country, bombing grain stores and irrigation systems, or in some other way attacking food production in hopes of causing mass starvation to reduce the effectiveness of the country I'm trying to prosecute the war against.

4)I'm the leader of a country at war that is trying to rapidly bring an enemy country to its knees to shorten the war.  If I think it'd be useful, I might use chemical weapons on enemy cities to use the resulting carnage to make the enemy realize that resistance is futile.  I'd only do this though if I'm sure I wouldn't suffer retaliation.



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  Quote guarddiva87 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 20:29
Hmmm....well.....let's see. In most cases, I would say no to killing civilians. Most of them are innocent and that's not exactly fair. They can't always help that their country has gone to war. There are a couple of exceptions I suppose. I guess if they were taking their own guns and shooting at your troops its ok. Also, if you are fighting a war that has been going on for a riduculous amount of time, and killing civilians would, for some reason or other, end the war quickly.
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  Quote Roughneck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 21:10

Well, for starters, this goes against everything that America stands for.  In fact, isn't this one of the (belated) justifications for going to war in Iraq; because Saddam was doing just this to his own people?

That being said, every war in which America has done this, we have either lost or come off pretty badly.  Vietnam is the obvious example.  My Lei is only the most famous of several massacres, and the saying "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" didn't exactly endear us to the people.  To use another example, there is the Filipino insurrection of 1903.  We deliberately attacked civilians in order to stop the insurrection but this tactic was ineffective.  We eventually won, but it is one of the saddest chapters in American history.  By the end, we were actually worse than the Spanish we had liberated them from.  Not that the Filipinos didn't commit atrocities, but we were supposed to hold the moral high ground.  This still poisons Filipino-American relations to this day.

In other cases where civilians were attacked, it did nothing to dampen their morale.  If one looks at the London blitz of 1940, which was specifically designed to cow the London populace into submission, it actually galvanized the British people, as attested to by every source I've ever read on the topic, and the relief given to the RAF was crucial to the British victory.  In this case, it actually backfired.

The Allied efforts over Germany were equally ineffective.  Here, at least on paper, the purpose of the bombing was not to kill civilians per se, but to destroy production-and the civilians just happened to be working in those factories and the bombs were highly inaccurate.  Even here, the results are controversial at best.  It was found after the war the the Germans had plenty of Me-262s ready and had in fact increased production through the war despite the bombing.  While a case could be made on production, as the Germans suffered a major setback with the loss of the Ploesti oil fields in Romania, and infrastructure, as the bridge hits on D-Day hampered German reinforcements, attacking civilians themselves will not work.  Even Japan, which had 90% of some of it's cities completely burned to the ground, did not cave due to aerial bombardment-I think we can all agree that the atom bomb was an exception to the rule, and even THAT took two of them.  What did work against Japan, and nearly did against Britain, was a naval blockade.  Not aerial bombardment

Attacking civilians who rise up, the Geneva Conventions cover this.  If a civilian takes up arms against you, they are fair game, and do not get POW status.  Even here, there are limitations.

Long story short, bad idea.

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  Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 21:15
But it was very effective in the Civil War with instances such as Sherman's March to the Sea when anything built by human hands was destroyed.
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  Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 22:37
When fighting people like the Nazis and Imperial Japan, killing civilians is not only usefull but necessaryas the fanatical hordes of the enemy should reap the whirlwind of the government installed without their effective resistance.  However in most cases I would not kill innocent people in the squabbles of nations.
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  Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 22:47

 

  Attacking civilians only will unite to the population towards the enemy.

  Every citizen will be looking to throw rocks into the enemy, every meal or gallon of water could be poisoned, shoot you from a window or blow roads and bridges while you are crossing.

  Instead of attacking civilians, I should try to show myself as a libertarian instead of an enemy. That will weak the moral on the enemy side.

   See what happens at Irak. The USA defeated to the militar forces, but now they are affraid to turn a corner. Conquest is not only to defeat militarly to an opponent, but being able to stay and consolidate the conquest.

   Regards

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  Quote Roughneck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Sep-2004 at 23:26

Originally posted by Genghis

But it was very effective in the Civil War with instances such as Sherman's March to the Sea when anything built by human hands was destroyed.

They attacked the infrastructure, yes, but they did not directly attack civilians, butchering them.

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  Quote Beylerbeyi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 04:38

Attacking (unarmed) civilians is barbarism. It is a war crime. It is against the Genave convention. Serb generals are facing the International Court of Justice for acts which Genghis claims that he would also commit if he were a commander.

It is not true that the allies targeted the infrastructure only in the aerial bombardments of the WWII. They also targeted the civilians. Dresden is the best known example. Dresden had no significant industries, military or otherwise. People from all over Germany have sent their children there because they thought it would not be bombed. But the allies have deliberatly targeted them, to create terror, using napalm to burn tens of thousands alive overnight. That should have been a war crime also, but it wasn't because the main principle of Nuremberg trials was that only the acts committed by the losers are considered crimes. I won't even mention the nukes.

As Roughneck half heartedly points out, it is impossible to target civilans and claim the moral high ground. Such lack of moral responsibility is a direct threat to human survival in the age of nuclear weapons. If there will be a nuclear armageddon some day, it will be caused by people who condone this...

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 06:45
Originally posted by Genghis

What do you think about deliberately attacking civilians?  Do you think it's always wrong?  Are there instances it would be acceptable?


 The situations you give are inspred by pratical usage and not by moral arguments. They do not give any moral grounds to justify killing civilians.

I completely agree with Jalisco and Beylerbeyi, killing civilans is barbaric and it gives no strategic benefits.
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  Quote Bryan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 07:04
Originally posted by Roughneck

They attacked the infrastructure, yes, but they did not directly attack civilians, butchering them.
I truly didn't think that you were that naive, Roughneck. With such tactics as Sherman was using, combined with the marauders, murderers, and thieves that followed on his heels like dogs looking for scraps (most of whom were from the South), it's almost impossible for one to say that. Total war was just that: total war.
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  Quote TJK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 07:46

Dresden had no significant industries, military or otherwise

Not to justify the Dresden bombing but such statement is just untrue - city contained the Zeiss-Ikon optical factory and the Siemens glass factory (devoted to manufacturing military gunsights). The immediate suburbs contained factories building components of radars and electronics, and fuses for anti-aircraft shells. Other factories produced gas masks, engines for Junkers aircraft and cockpit parts for Messersmchitt fighters.

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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 09:18

1)I'm the leader of an army that is advancing deep into a densely populated country and is closing in on a city.  I receive word that an enemy division is moving fast toward the city.  I might bomb the city in the hopes of creating confusion and refugees to clog the roadways of the division to slow them down.

2)I'm the general of an army that is besieging an enemy city and I know that taknig it by force would be very costly.  To pull at my opponent's heart strings I might order my artillery to fire indiscriminately into the city to kill civilians.

3)If I'm the leader of a country at war, I'd have no problem blockading the country, bombing grain stores and irrigation systems, or in some other way attacking food production in hopes of causing mass starvation to reduce the effectiveness of the country I'm trying to prosecute the war against.

4)I'm the leader of a country at war that is trying to rapidly bring an enemy country to its knees to shorten the war.  If I think it'd be useful, I might use chemical weapons on enemy cities to use the resulting carnage to make the enemy realize that resistance is futile.  I'd only do this though if I'm sure I wouldn't suffer retaliation.

Here is my way of viewing the situations.  Enjoy.

1) I would bomb all bridges to the side of the enemy so that these confused civilians run into my camp.  If not, I would bombard any significant places that the enemy wants from the city, to make it "less valuable" for the enemy.  Killing innocent civilians is what everyone should avoid I think.

2) Problem is that there are innocnets that cannot run away becasue the few rebels that control teh place don't allow that to happen.  Bombarding would only result in more hiding places for enemy snipers, IMO.  Also, only the innocent would die out.  I would suggest sending some specialist squads inside the city and attack in small skirmishes, to see how bad the situation is.  If it is really bad, I would then start bombing....

3) I can unload my men from the trucks and use them instead to supply those supplies back into HQ, because I am given a leader of the country which implies that I have enough supply to such.  IT can be used to bribe people into joining my side, or use it for ambush purpose.  Trashing or burining=pollution

4)That is a hard question.  Again, there are cities in which its people want to surrender which cannot because the few rebel leaders dont want that.  Again, I would suggest skrimishes of small squads.

---

And about effectiveness in Sherman, I believe that was back then where people just standed in lines and reloaded their bayonet fixed rifles. 

Warfare in these days are quick and swift and deadlier.  One Ak-47 can kill tens or even hundreds in a matter of seconds, not like with rifles back then. 

Bombing buildings can be deadly back then, because products were heavily relied upon factories and/or personal work, but these days we have instant ramen and so forth to deal those situations. 

The only ones that suffer woudl be the civilians as a consequence of bombing.  Enemy forces would have alternatives that civilians would not be able to coop with, thus the civilians would be the ones caught in between.

Grrr..
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  Quote Bryan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 09:25
Originally posted by demon

And about effectiveness in Sherman, I believe that was back then where people just standed in lines and reloaded their bayonet fixed rifles.
Actually, it was more than standing in ranks and firing, although that was indeed a good part of it. When it came down to it, though, charges and "hand-to-hand" saw more than their fair share of usage. Indeed, that may be an understatement. Bayonet fixed rifles? They did have to fix the bayonets onto the rifles, but the bayonets themselves were not permanently fixed to the rifles... at least for the majority of the rifles...
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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 11:12
oops....-_-; I mixed the two up
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  Quote Genghis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 19:05

"Attacking (unarmed) civilians is barbarism. It is a war crime. It is against the Genave convention. Serb generals are facing the International Court of Justice for acts which Genghis claims that he would also commit if he were a commander."

It's only a war crime if I lose, my friend.

"The situations you give are inspred by pratical usage and not by moral arguments. They do not give any moral grounds to justify killing civilians."

Yeah, I'm more of a pragmatist and not an idealist, like Bismarck.

 



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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 19:24
my view is if your nation is at war everyone in those nations is in the war and should really be considered a civilian. But if theres no warring nations those people would be considered cillivians and shouldn't be harmed for in my view that would morally be worng.
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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 20:08
I didn't get that, Ralo
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 20:17
basicly if 2 countries are at war i belive there are no citizens everyone is a soldier when they are called to service.But when a countries not at war and they are attacked then and only then (i blevie)are there such things as civilians
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  Quote ArmenianSurvival Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 20:39

Ralo.....but what about citizens that arent called into service.... should they be attacked? thats the question in this thread.

And i agree, attacking citizens of a country you are at war with is barbarism. The only justifiable explanation is killing the citizens that bear arms and fight against your army. Just because a country declares war doesnt mean all its citizens agree that war is necessary (most recent example is the war in Iraq). Just because the leaders are stupid/arrogant/faulty doesnt mean its citizens agree with it.

Mass Murderers Agree: Gun Control Works!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Resistance

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 20:48
true but if look at it like this back when the empires existed they always had problems with the people they conqured but they would have less trouble just by converting many of those people to there way of life and getting rid of the rest than have generation after generation hate the others so terribly because of something there ancestors did 100 years ago but i do understand your point and respect that cause its a good point im just saying is all
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