View the H-War Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-War's March 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-War's March 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-War home page.
1st Reply From: Mac McIntosh <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Most "Law Abiding Adversary" Date: March 5, 2010 4:04:51 PM EST To: email@example.com, H-NET Military History Discussion List <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> A book that I would recommend on this subject is Caleb Carr's : The Lessons of Terror. We all have the image of Germany's military machine as one of ruthless warriors but Mr. Carr asserts that it was German rulers and military thinkers that basically founded the very concept of limited war. He specifically speaks of Frederick the Great and his ideas about war being limiteed in scope to very specific political goals and attempting to spare civilian lives. He was able to use these principles in expanding the borders of his kingdom and won nearly every one of the battles he engaged in . But Carr's narrative certainly puts the U.S. Military machine at the top of the list of those that engage in total war and generally has the aim of the enemy's total attrition and has a policy of killing civilians to forcibly end their support of the enemy government. He cites the savagery of the attacks on civilians who held opposing views in the revolutionary war as conducted both by regular troops but also by bands of irregular fighters. Sherman is quoted : " You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you can not refine it, and those who brought war into our country deserve all the cruelty and malediction a people can pour out. -- (and in the end--Sherman said : ) " I shall make little effort to restrain my army. " Think of James Doolittle's fire bombing of Tokyo. Or the choice of Hiroshima as a target, a city with several hundred thousand civilian inhabitants but with as few as 10,000 soldiers in residence . The "shock and awe" bombing of Bagdad is an even more recent example of American savagery. Any who read Carr's book , I am sure will find his narrative disturbing and hopefully will take Ike's final speech and warning to Americans to heart about the dangers of the military being a threat to America. Walter James McIntosh Bluff, New Zealand 2nd Reply Brian Ross had a few comments to my list. First, chemical weapons was not outlawed by the time of WWI, hench Imperial Germany on top of the list. Second, while the Germans and Italians certainly mistreated other nationalities, their records towards the anglo-american forces were far better. The masacre during the Ardenne offensive was an anomality, but similar treatment would be normal towards russian prisoners. Otherwise, their use of weapons or treatment of POWs were not much worse than what they them selves might expect from the allies. Chinese/North Korea vs Taliban/Iraqi insurgents: I do not have statistics to support this, but it is my impression that the communists of the Korean War frequently masacred their prisoners, while for mondern insurgents, a western soldier are far more valuable as a hostage - but perhaps the number of US soldiers falling into their hands are too small to make up an opinion. The absence of the Japanese were simply a laps of mind, perhaps they belong some where around 6 or 7. It's depends on whether you prefere forced labour and common mistreatment to beheading. My main point is that the regime that we most assosiate with terror and torture (Nazi Germany) actually treated western soldiers much better that other foes that they have faced over the last century. That is, that they had a reasonable chance of surviving captivity. This is also, in my mind, a wake up call with regards to what forces we are up against these days. Frode Lindgjerdet, Archivist, Norwegian Home Guard, Freelance Historian Original Message: > From: Scott Hendrix [firstname.lastname@example.org] > Sent: 2010-03-04 21:04:59 CET > To: H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU > Subject: REPLY: Most "Law Abiding Adversary" > > From: email@example.com > Subject: REPLY: Most "Law Abiding Adversary" > Date: March 3, 2010 7:39:17 PM EST > To: H-NET Military History Discussion List <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> > Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org > > > All "adversaries" in the list have tended at various times act > outside what many would considered "civilised behavior" and/or "the > laws of war". Imperial Germany introduced chemical warfare and for > America, its entry into WWI was prompted by the sinking of the > Lusitania with the loss of a large number of civilian lives. The > Italians, usually considered ineffectual by many after the war for > some reason, didn't hesitate before it to utilise chemical warfare in > Ethopia. The Nazis massacred American soldiers during the Ardennes > offensive. Individuals and groups (units) act abominably in all > conflicts while at the same time other individuals and groups (units) > act honourably. I suspect determining who was the "most honourable" is > very much a subjective thing. > > Of the order of the list though, I am somewhat surprised to see the > Chinese or Koreans listed below the Iraqi insurgents and Taliban. As > far as I am aware, the Communist Chinese and/or Koreans did not > routinely cut their prisoners' heads off. I'm also surprised not to > see the Japanese listed, even at the lower end of the scale. Does this > mean that the Pacific war didn't happen and the mistreatment of all > Allied forces at the hands of the Imperial forces didn't occur? > > cheers > > Brian Ross > Independent Scholar of Life. > > ________________________________________ > > Original Message: > > From: Frode Lindgjerdet > Date: March 1, 2010 6:45:29 PM EST > To: > Subject: Most "Law Abiding Adversary" > > Dear Collegues: > The Weapons--Napalm/Flamethrowers reminded me of a question that has > puzzled me for some time. In recent conflicts, it has struck me that > Western forces face adversaries that systematically breech every > written and unwritten code of war. At the same time the media and > international opinion demand an almost devine ability on behalf of the > individual Western soldier to heed every convention to the letter, to > hit every target without any collateral damage - with no room for > error. And any testemony from the most ruthless dictatorship, > insurgent or terrorist are taken at face value without any critical > appraisal of their credibility from journalists. From the horror > stories of Gitmo to the infamous babymilk factory of Bagdad. > > Then I must ask my self, what adversary of the United States in a > major war over the last century have been the most law abiding > adversary? That is, towards towards US forces. > > I would guess the following : > > 1. Imperial Germany 1917-1918 > 2. Italy 1941-1943 > 3. Nazi Germany 1941-1945 > 4. North Vietnam 1964-1973 > 5. Iraq 1991; 2003 > 6. Iraqi Insurgents/Taliban 2001- > 7. North Korea/Communist China 1950-1953 > > Frode Lindgjerdet, Archivist, Norwegian Home Guard, Freelance > Historian ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----