I know that even the most justified war is ugly : there are accidents and mistakes and innocent people die at times, despite the best precautions.
Im aware that the freedoms I have every day, are a result of a coalition of democratic countries winning WWII and other conflicts. Many of my freedoms were won by American strength : military, economic and technological. I'm not an American, but I hold up the Constitution, the rule of Law and Democracy as high ideals - the best way humans have come up with so far of coexisting on this planet.
But a Democracy cannot exist where there is no free speech nor the right to question the government and the law. Citizens need information on whats happening : we need freedom to speak and anonymity to discuss in private, if we are to have a functioning Democracy.
I think Bradley Manning had a moral obligation as a soldier and as a citizen, to release the information he did. From what I read it seems that he was careful not to share information that would get other soldiers and spies killed, nor give the enemy any material advantage in the war.
What I think should happen is that this should be a civil trial by jury to decide whether he acted legally and morally. He leaked news of military 'mistakes', so he should not be tried by that same organization. A civil jury should decide whether the obligation to uphold the Constitution, by leaking, outweighed his obligation as a soldier to keep the information secret.
Even more worrying here is that the Obama administration is pushing for this to be tried as 'giving information directly to the enemy' ie. treason, when clearly the motivation was not that.
If there were no Wikileaks, no Press, no privacy.. how would we keep our secret organisations in check, and have any confidence they are following their mandate ?
> Assange blamed former spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg for taking the video, who said he had deleted it along with 35,000 other files when he left Wikileaks in September 2010. To date, the video has never been publicly released.
| In March 2013, Julian Assange said Wikileaks had
| successfully decrypted the video and described it
| as documenting "a massacre, a war crime".
If it was deleted in September 2010, how was it decrypted and still in their possession in March 2013? Why are the possibly outdated and conflicting events listed after future events?
In this case, its a newspaper article that are citing Assange, which is why the sentence beginning with "Julian Assange said". Changing it to "Julian Assange allegedly claim" would make the article worse, as the implied disbelief of using the word "allegedly" is not supported by the source.
Having to base edits around sources is hard, but I think a crucial aspect of any encyclopedia. The alternative is just so much worse, don't you agree?
For example, I recently wrote an article about an ancient Roman politician. A number of sentences are in the form "[Scholar A] argues that the person did X [cite]" rather than "The person did X [cite]". I'll use the second form for uncontroversial facts, but the first form when it's more like a proposal from a particular scholar which isn't necessarily an accepted consensus viewpoint.
The trouble is, Americans believe they have the best system, society, country in the world, and that it is up to them to make every one have that same sort of system, regardless of whether or not they asked for it.
If you see America as a religion, its constitution as a holy book, its foreign policy as a crusade, its politicians as religious leaders, its people as believers, then you begin to understand the problem.
The problem is, America has a fundamentally different history than most other countries, and is that way it is because of its history. Essentially diverse people came from abroad for many different reasons to create it. The rest of the planet is not like that. Nothing wrong in that at all for America, it makes total reasonable sense, and works fairly well inits context. But for most other countries it does not. All America needs to do is accept that its unique and that other systems have equal validity to their own people. It is not up to America to judge other and seek to tell them they are wrong. If other countries and culture are wrong for their people, its is up to them to change it, not have it forced on them. If such people want American "democracy", which lets face it, Americans seem to have plenty of issues with, then such people will fight for it, loose blood for it, and really value it. Just like Americans did for themselves. No one forced democracy on Americans.
My point here being that "our freedoms" plainly is not why they hate us. The real reason is because of our involvement and interaction with them. When such involvement and interaction is kept classified for decades, then the American public has no hope of correctly evaluating statements such as Bush's.
We can't get everyone to travel, but we should be able to do better with modern internet technology and ubiquitous cell phones. For example, perhaps a website facilitating the creation of email / text message friendships between people in America and people in Afghanistan (or Gaza or Yemen etc). That would have the advantage of potentially severely reducing the signal-to-noise ratio in the government's mass surveillance of its own citizens. Initially of course it would be the more enlightened westerners that would participate, but it would be a start. Incentives for both sides could include language skills / other educational objectives.
Let's just say that Al Qaida had an easy time recruiting men with a grudge against the U.S. The western worlds 'decadent' lifestyles are just a way for Al Qaida to dehumanize them.
That said, I bet Mohammed Atta and Osama Bin Laden also have their reasons besides idealistic ones to despise the western world.
- Osama never took responsibility for 911. His multiple speeches he gave recorded in caves after 911 were incorrectly translated and heavily redacted for political purposes. E was just perfect to be framed. Anyone speaking Laden's language can hear him speaking that his family were doing business with Bush family (proven fact) for decades and he would never be competent to carry such an attack. Unfortunately, most videos of him speaking without overlapping loud audio vanished and any translation you find you can barely hear his native language. But you can find interview with people that were asked to translate his words ad they were pretty angry that everything got twisted.
- ibn Laden was on FBI top list but never for 911. As far as I remember he was most wanted for some huge oil fraud he performed while his family did work with Bushes.
Do you really think it is a coincidence that the more people we bomb, the more there seem to be?
By the way, Clinton did attack Sudanese AQ training camps (watch "Wag the Dog"); still waiting for the Sudanese terrorists...
All of these are policies reached through a free, democratic process, which has not been a hallmark of those societies which have welcomed Al Qaeda into their midst.
Also, have you heard of Sayyid Qutb? Just curious.
Islamist culture is not entirely compatible with Western democracy, just as far-right fundamentalist Christian extremism is not entirely compatible with Western democracy (e.g. the 1996 Olympic Park bombing).
Christian on the other hand is already overloaded with many meanings and I don't feel like inventing new words when I can simply add adjectives as appropriate.
Pray tell, is my explanation sufficient?
Though I hear 'Crusader' is a close equivalent among many Muslims, for obvious reasons. I don't think Americans or most West. Europeans would understand that as a negative connotation though.
So you are telling me that the "decadence" of modern Western society simply FORCED the USA to support the Shah, Mubarak, Ben Ali, the dictators of Bahrain etc etc etc down through history?
Like the Western world couldn't possibly have beer and miniskirts without installing dictators in or invading other countries?
Also, have you heard of crude oil? Just curious.
Obviously the U.S. record in the Middle East is not spotless. But it's not as if we haven't been a force for good there on more than one occasion. The Suez Crisis comes to mind immediately, as does Desert Shield/Storm. Our record there isn't better or worse than our record in, say, Central and South America, yet for some reason, Nicaraguans and Chileans aren't blowing themselves up in Times Square.
If I remember correctly, the translation is "even a rat will fight if cornered", though today we might mutter something about "asymmetric warfare" in response to "full spectrum dominance".
Sun Zi wrote in about 500BC. So it's not like you were warned yesterday. You've had 2500 years of warning.
Expect kamikaze attacks. They happen. Especially from people who feel they have nothing to lose, and feel under attack from very, very strong opponents.
But they don't. Not from the Vietnamese, nor the Indians nor are the Gabonese. Nor the Chileans and Nicaraguans, as was pointed out in the comment I originally responded to.
And try googling for "suicide attack India" or "suicide attack Kashmir" or "suicide attack Sri Lanka", you'll find plenty of hits.
Just because South Americans haven't done it (yet) (that we know of), it doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. Like I told you, you've had at least 2500 years warning.
Hell, there's even the American saying "Give me Liberty or give me Death!"
I have referenced academic study on this topic elsewhere, go read it.
Occupation is one reason the kamikaze may feel like a cornered rat. Indirect occupation is another.
This can be because the perpetrator (USA) is giving weapons to the actual occupier (Israel), because the perpetrator is implementing a sanctions/embargo regime amounting to a mediaeval siege that killed half a million, mostly children (Iraq) or because the perpetrator has installed a "government" in your country to do the occupation for it (Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Ethiopia etc etc etc Saudi Arabia).
If you google for the jihadis' motives, you'll find that they mention all three.
Given that the actual 911 attackers were Saudis, I would have thought that US sponsored tyranny in Saudi Arabia would have been their main motive, but it appears that they were significantly motivated by fellow-feeling for Palestinians.
The fact that you do not find their motives "reasonable" intrigues me. Is it their methods you disagree with, or their grievances?
If you think their grievances are not legitimate, does it change when you substitute "gold rush" for "oil rush" and "red skin" for "rag head"?
(By the way I'm not thrilled about getting bombed. I almost lost a friend in Boston.)
The human unconscious is a mysterious place.
> The fact that you do not find their motives "reasonable" intrigues me. Is it their methods you disagree with, or their grievances?
I disagree with deliberately targeting civilians. I also think the worldview of these perpetrators is rather distant from reality.
> If you think their grievances are not legitimate, does it change when you substitute "gold rush" for "oil rush" and "red skin" for "rag head"?
Look, this is the list of things you could find "unreasonable":
(a) the jihadi position on God
(b) the jihadi position on US policy
(c) the jihadi method to affect change - violence
Lets deal with them one by one.
(a) is loony but pretty much irrelevant. You wouldn't feel any better if they converted to Shintoism and continued the jihad, would you?
(b) US policy is well studied so you can't really deny its lousiness. Example references:
(c) you can only condemn the violence if you would not do the same thing in their place.
To me, that means you should be able to sell them a peaceful method as being more effective than jihad. Well, we have a historical record.
The peaceful, liberal, pro-democratic reformers in the middle east seem to have gotten defeated and tortured by the CIA and their local satraps. Like what happened to my family.
On the other hand Jihad seems to be winning in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia and so on.
So you don't have a very strong case.
TL;DR People do not run kamikaze attacks against other people for being less religiously conservative than they are, they run kamikaze attacks against occupiers.
And if they wanted to make a symbolic attack, they would have hit the Statue of Liberty, not financial and military targets like the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Furthermore it is you who are taking things off-topic.
The topic was jlgreco commenting about the Granai massacre, and how resistance in Afghanistan is because (sarcastically) "they hate us for our freedoms"
You tried to make it out that "Western Decadence" in fact was the reason, which is plain WRONG and contradicted by authorities which I have cited and provided references for.
You have repeatedly attempted to derail the point by going off on a tangent about Osama Ben Laden's psychology, or why Nicaraguans haven't reacted the same way, despite all of my efforts to stick to the topic. The 911 example is a similar red herring, because NO Afghans, Taleban or otherwise, were involved in that attack.
Just admit that you are wrong, will you?
It doesn't matter what they say. It matters what's true, and it matters what's right.
It's as though you defend a child's tantrum because the child explained "my mummy didn't buy me any sweeties".
You think jihadis are in truth really pleased about how Palestinians were ethnically cleansed, how they can't get their homes back and how they're treated like dirt everyday?
That's retarded, they're mad as hell about it, and as it happens many non-terrorist Middle Easterners are mad as hell about it too. If you doubt that, read the 2004 Pentagon Defense Science Board Report.
Furthermore, many non-Middle Easterners are mad as hell about it too. Many jews are mad as hell about it as well, as you can see from looking up eg mondoweiss.net
Finally, many Americans - including veterans and ex-intelligence personnel - are mad as hell about the American money and lives being expended to harm the Middle East on Israel's behalf, which you can see by looking up eg The Council for the National Interest.
However, it does not mean that anger is justified, and it does not justify attacks on civilians.
Don't try to justify Israel to me because you will look stupid when I list for you Israeli sources admitting Israel's aggression.
Starting with the Israeli national archives which have detailed the ethnic cleansing in 1948.
Stay on topic. Don't justify Israel. Just don't go there. Please.
Particularly drone "signature strikes" against first responders, which have killed MANY more people than 911.
Decide which standard you want to have, and then realize that it applies to your favoured side too.
Which by the way started most of the problems in the first place.
But while it is true that part of their beef with the US was things that we would consider freedom a much bigger issue would be America's support of Israel or the stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. And then 9/11 happened and the West invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and this became very much beside the point. So Bush's famous mention of Al Qaeda hating us for our freedoms, while true in some sense, was very much a red herring.
Answer: Because they hate our freedoms honey...
/They reason it is presented in that way is because the explanation is infantile and geared for an infantile mind but it is funny how well it has worked for so long
I dont know if there was a video, what it showed, how many people died, how many were combatants, what their ages were.
If I was a soldier.. Id want to know that these things are investigated well.. because I really don't want to kill innocent people by mistake. Where did the mistake happen along the chain of intel and of command, who didn't double check, was someone gung-ho or negligent ?
Let's start here:
If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?
"I'm in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger-happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors... and the only safe place I seem to have is this satellite internet connection. I already got myself into minor trouble, revealing my uncertainty over my gender identity. Which is causing me to lose this job. And putting me in an awkward limbo...
At the very least, I managed to keep my security clearance (so far), and little does anyone know. But, among this "visible" mess, there's the mess I created that no one knows about yet.
Hypothetical question: if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time, say, 8-9 months ... and you saw incredible things, awful things ... things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C. ... what would you do?
Say ... a database of half a million events during the Iraq war. From 2004 to 2009, with reports, date time groups, lat-lon locations, casualty figures...? Or 260,000 state department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world, explaining how the first world exploits the third, in detail, from an internal perspective?
Let's just say someone I know intimately well, has been penetrating U.S. classified networks, mining data like the ones described, and [has] been transferring that data from the classified networks over the "air gap" onto a commercial network computer ... sorting the data, compressing it, encrypting it, and uploading it to a crazy white-haired Aussie who can't seem to stay in one country very long.
Crazy white Aussie = Julian Assange..
In other words, I've made a huge mess.
"And, it's important that it gets out, I feel, for some bizarre reason. It might actually change something. I just ... don't wish to be a part of it. At least not now. I'm not ready ... I wouldn't mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much, if it wasn't for the possibility of having pictures of me plastered all over the world press, as a [poster] boy.
I've totally lost my mind. I make no sense. The CPU is not made for this motherboard. I cannot believe what I'm confessing to you.
"So, it was a massive data spillage, facilitated by numerous factors. Both physically, technically, and culturally. [It's a] perfect example of how not to do INFOSEC. [I] listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga's Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.
Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis ... a perfect storm.
I mean, what if I were someone more malicious? I could've sold to Russia or China, and made bank."
Adrian shot back, "Why didn't you?"
"Because it's public data. It belongs in the public domain.
Information should be free." - Bradley Manning
This is true bravery. This is courage. This is heroism. Capitol Hill does not have the intelligence quotient to understand this.
Either that, or they're just corrupt. It's probably the latter.
I am praying to a God I know doesn't exist, if only because I feel helpless in this matter. Bradley Manning, please be free. Just like the information you set out to liberate, be yourself liberated from tyranny.
Bradley Manning struck me as likely suffering from a level of mental disorder which renders him unable to discern whether or not something belonged in the 'public domain.'
"I'm in the desert, with a bunch of hyper-masculine trigger-happy ignorant rednecks as neighbors."
These are not the words of a hero. More importantly, these are not the words of someone acting rationally. These are the words of someone who leaked massive amounts of information without knowing what the information was. In some cases -- like the Baghdad airstrike video -- the information was important to bring to light; in other cases, like Cablegate, the information caused hundreds of diplomats and journalists to fear for their lives.
Bradley Manning, in my opinion, is a terrible example of a whistleblower, and if anything undermined the effort for transparency.
You have to remember that this is an IM transcript after all. The "trigger-happy hyper-masculine" comment was likely just a joke or either angst at his predicament.
Funny how averse most HNers are when it comes to perpetuating stereotypes and making negative generalizations based on race or gender, but when it comes to the military or people from "flyover states", it suddenly becomes acceptable.
c wat I did there? ;)
and for the record, I'm from a fly-over state and a bit of a redneck, and a bit not...
"Hypothetical question...and you saw incredible things, awful things ... things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington, D.C. ... what would you do?"
The question isn't interesting...in fact, it isn't a question, it's an opinion veiled as a discussion. If you drop your own opinion from it, then it becomes interesting. Then people can talk about it.
This is like saying:
"Hypothetical question...Let's say you're Truman, and you know that dropping the bomb will definitely kill more civilians and soldiers on both side while extending the war and turning all your allies against you, what would you do?"
That line have never made much sense to me, can anyone elaborate on what he might have been seeing?
it could be interpreted as a feeling that there is an incompatibility/conflict between the physical gender of the "motherboard" body and the gender identity of the mind.
He will probably rot in jail for the rest of his life for what he did. And I salute him for taking the hit!
This is where we, the people, must step in to make sure it doesn't happen.
For what it's worth, I agree with you. I think Manning did something truly worthwhile, and he DID break laws in doing so. Unfortunately, he will pay the price for that. I feel conflicted by it.
I wish we had a hero to champion our fight for privacy, but I don't think Manning is that person. An anti-war hero, maybe.
A lot of the information he dumped violated the privacy of individuals who worked for the government, interacted with the government, or were in government in other countries. We can't know for sure some poor Afghans did not suffer reprisals.
We need someone in government who is willing spill everything about these domestic programs, then fight against the charges leveled against him/her in court (knowing that most likely the court will come down upon them like a pile of bricks).
"It became necessary to destroy the town to save it', a United States major said today. He was talking about the decision by allied commanders to bomb and shell the town regardless of civilian casualties, to rout the Vietcong."
Do we really care which? Mens rea isn't required for drunk drivers, why should we demand it for dropping bombs on villages?
By the way, it's a really crappy air force that can't do an air strike with sleeping-gas bombs.
I daresay that would be a lot less effective than you might expect. See the Moscow theater hostage situation for what happens when trying to use it on a fixed target with ground level access. Imagine how much harder that would be from an air-drop, and the concentration gradient you'd end up with. Individual dispensers, cluster-bomb style might help a bit, but I still think you'd end up killing anyone close-by if you wanted it strong enough to permeate buildings.
Calling in a heavy smoke/CS drop and then retreating might be a sensible option, although I don't think there's nearly enough (public) information for anyone to judge definitively on the correct course of action in this instance.
If "effective" includes "not killing innocent civilians" then sleeping gas would work much better than what they are dropping now.
If smoke or CS would work better, well it's the military's responsibility, not mine, to the the R&D to pick the right tool to protect civilians as required by law.
It doesn't look like they give a fuck.
Precisely. If anything, it's a much more easily controlled environment for gas diffusion, and allowed almost immediate entry by the special forces to clear the area. Even then, there were significant hostage fatalities (although in a large part due to medical staff not being timely informed of the nature of the gas, or provided with the antidote)
Achieving that level of consistency of dose (enough to work, not enough to kill) in a rural village environment, via air-dropped containers, is, IMO, utterly impossible.
I'm arguing against your suggestion of 'sleeping gas bombs' only, not that the indiscriminate bombing is/was the correct choice.
In addition, R&D only determines what you will have available maybe some time in the future. If you're in combat right now, you don't have the luxury of waiting 3-5 years for promising test-bench stuff to make it to your rucksack/support units.
If all you have is high-explosives, eventually everything looks like rubble.
Are you kidding me? Vietnam ended forty years ago!
They've had decades to come up with something better.
They just don't give a fuck about civilians.
Hell, they don't even care that much about US grunts, if the "hillbilly armour" and servicewoman-rape scandals are anything to go by.
There are chemicals, of course, that can cause loss of consciousness, but any that causes loss long enough to be effective against the force of 400 people hiding in urban setting, would kill most of the civilians. It's not random that when the human is anesthetized it is done in controlled setting by an experienced doctor with very precise mixture of chemicals - it is very dangerous to do it and exceeding dosage could be lethal or cause permanent harm. Military weapon can not adhere to such dose requirements so it will be either ineffective or extremely dangerous.
This was the easiest setting - everybody in one enclosed building and civilians can be treated within minutes after the attack is done. Imagine doing this in a complex urban setting, with multiple buildings, with 10 times as much enemies, where both enemy and civilians can be anywhere. It's just impossible to do without killing everybody and leaving the place a chemical wasteland.
And, of course, on top of that, if US military does it once, Talibans get gas masks. But civilians would not, so the only effect would be killing civilians.
What was the weasel word google and facebook were, well, are relying on?
Oh yes "direct".
It's terrible, of course, but I don't think anybody in the military intends things like this to happen (aside from a few legitimate psychopaths who use the chaos for their own ends). It's 'just' a horrifying side effect of using war and military power as a blunt instrument for statecraft.
Fuck that, the U.S. has a huge dominant army with superior technology and well trained personnel. They bombard a village because it's easy and effective.
Someone made a decision that the lives of American soldiers were worth more than an entire Afghan village. That's a war crime, and someone should pay for that. And that person should not be Bradley Manning..
Nobody made this decision. American soldiers were already engaged in the fight with large Taliban force and suffering casualties when the strike was called in. They most probably had no idea where civilians are, since it wasn't exactly home terrain for them (they were called in from Farah when Afghans came under attack) and finding out where civilians are in the conditions of active urban warfare is next to impossible. They only target that makes sense to call air strike on is where the shooting at you originates. Turned out, it was also where the civilians were hiding (read: Taliban was probably firing either from the same or from the nearby places). Common tactics, Hamas is Gaza places rocket launchers near mosques, on the roofs of hospitals and in the school yards for exactly the same reason. If the army new that, they could probably do something else - retreat, regroup and try to resolve it in some other way, but I don't see where could they know it from.
Military operations are not law enforcement. They aren't required to prevent all deaths other than combatants. I don't know where you draw the line on collateral damage, but to say that you can't kill any "innocents" is not practical.
Yes, by all means, let us not burden our efficiency at slaughtering our fellow man with morality!
Certainly that's an easy choice for you to make; you're not the one bearing the brunt of that decision.
Second, it was not 5 soldier lives versus 1 civilian, more likely it was 5 soldier lives versus 140 civilian lives.
Third, yes I myself would probably also make the same decision, favouring the lives of my friends over a bunch of foreigners who are probably on the enemies side.
That doesn't make it less wrong, if I was in that position, and I made that decision, I would still have to be tried for committing a war crime, because that's what it is.
More importantly, the issue at hand is that we don't know whether that decision was as clean-cut as you suggest, precisely because of the lack of transparency of our .gov and .mil.
Now, there are very sound opsec reasons for not making that information public, but when we are the foreign aggressor I believe that it is not an unreasonable burden to place on ourselves; indeed, it may help encourage caution when considering military adventures abroad.
A side that operates like this doesn't get to call itself the "Good Guys" or call its opponents "Terrorists".
Is that true? I mean, it could be, but I'm wondering if anyone determined this to be the case, or is this just speculation based on descriptions of the video of the attack.
I don't think that would happen without someone leaking.
It does, if enabling the public to realize the reality of war (and more importantly, the fallibility of their beloved military) results a society that is less bloodthirsty and eager to start wars.
I may not be able to sit in and vote for a commander but every appointment has the backing of an elected official that can be replaced.
As a civilian everything the military does is of interest to me and should be made open - your argument of "you may not understand it" is irrelevant. I want to know everything from how much they spend on toothpaste to how many civilians have died.
Seriously, how can justify these kind of mistakes when you have military satellites, surveillance drones, intelligence and all the stuff that goes with it. I don't buy in it being just "collateral damage".
Satellites and even drones don't have that kind of resolution.
And what kind of intelligence do you think they have? Even the NSA, even with PRISM, requires a warrant on specific foreign persons to be signed by judge to milk data on them, unless they're dumb enough to communicate over a net NSA is able to monitor. (They're not that dumb).
Do you think it's like FourSquare where KSM says he's checking into a wedding? It's not, and it's also not like they can send the white/black/Hispanic guy in on the ground to check it out.
"I am a macho cowboy who shoots first and questions later." is not an acceptable excuse.
GeoEye is one example of a commercial company with the capability of producing high res close up "real time" satellite information.
These are low resolution (50cm res) sample photos that the public can gain access to, consider how close they can actually get for military application.
Papers on GeoEye's latest capabilities:
The 50cm res is (afaik) a commercial limitation; "Because of federal regulations, the publicly-available images are slightly lower resolution -- approximately 50 cm)"
"And what kind of intelligence do you think they have?" With the massive amount of data gathering combined with information from satellites (that we know about) like these, who knows...
"We see, therefore, that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means. What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means." -- Carl von Clausewitz
Now, the past decade of war has been against enemies which do not have the authority, power, or will to be dealt with politically. The obvious question, then, is how we can be fighting a war--we are going after the criminals that hit us, no?
Even a defense wherein we say "Aha! But the Taliban and Saddam regime were opposed to us, politically!" is flawed, for we had successfully conducted combat operations against their regular forces and won by any reasonable definition of the phrase. We now find ourselves in a long and bloody occupation---for that is what this is, and an occupation is not a war.
To be even more blunt about this, we cannot simply ascribe the bombing of an Afghan village as an unfortunate side-effect of total war.
We are not engaged in total war, we are not engaging an enemy which has hills and manufacturing capacity worth our bombs and weapons--this is no Dresden or Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Hiding behind "War is hell" at the very least requires us to be engaged in an honest war, and this we are not.
And maybe that was the case in 2001-2002, but this has morphed into a sort of hazy nation-building / police-action kind of thing. But the tools and methods more suited to total war are still being employed, with the same brutal side-effects.
That said, I submit that we were never engaged with an opponent capable of conducting meaningful total war against our nation, and as such any loss of civilian life is unjustifiable.
How would I say the truth?
The world is a beautiful and amazing place full of divinely creative and wonderful humans. We all need to work together toward a singular goal: evolving our civilization and exploring the truths of existence and the universe. We should see that we are a singular species on this planet that has evolved to a level of intelligence that allows us to explore the wider universe around us and gaining understanding and ultimately wisdom of this universe, existence and ourselves should be our cohesive, singular goal.
Tell that to the Taliban.
It doesn't go unnoticed across the world how Americans refer to Americans as "Americans" instead of just "people". It is always said as though there is difference and that Americans have more intrinsic value.
Sometimes incompetence is as bad as malice.
Pretty sure there's something in there about destroying entire village(s) filled with people.
Destroying a civilian building being used as a military facility, on the other hand, is not a war crime, except if there was no valid military purpose to the strike or the strike was not proportional to the military value that might be gained (e.g. it would never be acceptable post-Geneva to kill 1000 civilians just to destroy an enemy soldier). That was one of the justifications the Germans used to sink Lusitania (which despite American and British protestations, it appears the Germans had actually been right in retrospect).
"Oops" we thought we were killing the enemies of the people.
"Oops" we thought all them were Viet Cong and could have killed us
"Oops" we were over-stressed, tired and and upset about our soldiers being tortured so we went all hog wild on them
That's really about it, believe it or not.
If you go into a field and there's a bunch of armed VC villagers who start shooting back at your then an air strike is militarily justified, until the defense ceases.
If you go into a field and there's a bunch of women and children (unarmed!, and I hate that I have to mention that...) then there is no valid military purpose to an air strike.
Now, from just the air if you have good intelligence that there is a grouping of enemy soldiers at a concentration point then even under Geneva that might be all the valid military purpose you need to approve dropping bombs at that location, even at risk of collateral damage.
A war crime would be a military action taken out of proportion to the valid military purpose that might justify it. E.g. if it was known that there were lots of civilians and just a few fighters at that location. Or if you shot a soldier in the act of surrendering (note how rarely U.S. soldiers are afforded even the opportunity to surrender in the few times Taliban managed to encircle a U.S. squad).
I, too, wish that we lived in that wonderful world where civilians are not used as human shields and that all intel is perfect (God knows NSA is trying!) but that's not the world we live in. The world we live in has both Geneva Conventions and the precedent of Nuremburg and does not simply define "war crime" as "things that happen which we don't like".
If you try to redefine "war crime" we'd simply have to come up with yet another definition to mean what it's supposed to mean for things like war crimes tribunals.
You were asked, if you accept "oops" as a valid excuse, is it possible to successfully prosecute any war crime? Can you think of any examples of war crimes where "oops" could not be used as a defense?
"If you go into a field and there's a bunch of women and children (unarmed!, and I hate that I have to mention that...) then there is no valid military purpose to an air strike."
If you accept "oops" as an excuse, then guess what? That air strike was an "oops".
The order to give the air strike was a war crime.
Another very obvious example was the My Lai massacre itself. It's really hard to find a valid military purpose for either carrying out the order to bayonet a child, or giving the order to kill a child.
But the fog of war is not as hazy on the ground. During WWII (which was admittedly a total war) you could drop all the bombs you wanted at a tank factory and still manage to hit the school a kilometer away. That wouldn't have made dropping the bombs a war crime by any stretch of the imagination though; the raid itself had a valid military purpose.
Hint: Fuck all.
All deplorable, and a very deep stain to have associated with the U.S. for all time.
But what does that have to do with the definition of a war crime?
This is about what we consider valid defenses, and our ability to prosecute war crimes. Do you not understand how our absolute failure to prosecute the My Lai Massacre might be relevant to how we prosecute war crimes?
Christ, it is almost as though you have absolutely no interest in understanding what people are saying to you.
Of course it would have been much less horrific if it was mostly civillian men instead of mostly civillian women?
Or would it be more okay because civillian men are more likely to be guerilla soldiers? So then it wouldn't be so terrible to kill them "just in case"?