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Court orders Germany to question US drone strikes (dw.com)
74 points by Tomte 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

This concept of targeting civilians in a “continuous combat function” is pretty complex.

I started reading about it [1] and 20 minutes later feel like I’ve barely skimmed the surface of how hard it must be in modern combat modalities to actually enforce this.

My brother is a JAG and worked on authorization of force issues in Afghanistan. Part of his job was ensuring that rules of engagement were being followed, but I’m looking forward to a more in-depth conversation — if he’s willing to have it — next time we see each other.

People that are not in a regular armed force, do not wear a uniform, hold rank, or report to a superior, may still be taking an active role in combat. Can someone be a farmer by day, and a combatant by night? (a questioned posed by the footnoted article) How long can they be directly targeted as a combatant after a hostile act? What is a hostile act?

Continuous combat function requires lasting integration into an organized armed group acting as the armed forces of a non-State party to an armed conflict. Thus, individuals whose continuous function involves the preparation, execution, or command of acts or operations amounting to direct participation in hostilities are assuming a continuous combat function.

Turns out there are fairly complex guidelines for all of this, and with the amount of intelligence that is collected in the modern battlefield, there’s even a chance to track this down to the individual level.

The continuous combat function designation seems quite narrowly tailored, for example it does not include military, political, or administrative personnel who do not directly participate in hostilities (how convenient for the politicians it is defined this way!). It does not include reservists who are not actively serving.

A civilian who is not serving a continuous combat function in theory can only be subject to direct attack while they are directly participating in hostilities, which seems to include the planning, lead-up, execution, and return from a hostile operation.

Apparently very little of this is explicitly defined under international law, but there is a history and case law which can be used to draw guidelines from.

[1] - https://casebook.icrc.org/case-study/icrc-interpretive-guida...

Complexity is the fig leaf for the majority of modern evil- in the USA at least.

It's too complex to understand! too complex to make a judgement.

Let's think about your farmer that tries to fight against the soldiers of a government from the other hemisphere that are killing people within his country- when he isn't trying to get food to survive and feed his family.

Is that actually a complex situation? No. There is a force from a world away killing farmers in Afganistan for reasons that can not be explained except to say 'it's complex'

> can not be explained

Aren't they being killed for violent insurrection and terrorist activities?

Invading another country in a war of aggression is against international law. I don't buy the argument that the US has any moral high ground here.

If another country started launching drone strikes on your country, overthrew your government, and stationed troops in your cities to quell insurgence -- how would you react? Would you accept the status quo or would you fight? Do you think they would also classify you as a terrorist for protecting your home?

> for reasons that can not be explained except to say 'it's complex'

I explained it.

Are you saying it's more complex that?

The point made was almost certainly sarcastic -- that the government and media want to obfuscate the reasons why people are being killed. The point was that the reasons why people are fighting against US occupation are much less complicated than the media would have you believe.

I was pointing out that referring to retaliation against an illegal war of aggression as "violent insurrection" and "terrorist activities" is not an accurate portrayal (unless you'd also refer to US foreign policy as a terrorist activity).

I've often wondered where the voice of civilians in warzones is.

Surely at least some of them can get a Twitter/Facebook campaign going viral saying "Who bombed my grandma?" with photos of shrapnel etc which would implicate a US drone strike.

There seems to be some kind of information firewall - only official journalists embedded with allied forces ever seem to be able to put anything on the bit of the web I see.


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News? Especially flamebait. Double especially political flamebait.



This is simply not true. There has been controversy about this topic for many years now, and if you follow German news you would know that Ramstein has been one of the most controversial topic in US-German relationships for decades.

Even the quite popular German band of the same name is known for their outspoken opinions on US foreign politics.

Why would you rush to make this comment on HN? It isn’t even clear what point you were trying to make.

This account seems to have a history of trolling.

Unfortunately, I can’t help but to raise the old adage... username checks out.

The point is presumably that partisan externalities have influenced this development, since there have already been two presidents' worth of drone strikes. And you're right that it's precisely the wrong way to make such a point on HN.

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