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Editor's Note: As it seems to me that the various discussion of the use of Flame Weapons in Warfare, the "Most Law-Abiding Adversary," and the Bombing of Baghdad threads have all converged, I have decided to formalize this by creating a new Laws of War thread and merge the various comments into this discussion. Also, and not at all to my surprise, the discussion of the bombings of Baghdad and Hiroshima have already begun to generate more heat than light: as a result I find that I need to remind everyone that first, civility is required on this list, and second, the focus on this list must be kept on questions of military history, not those of present day politics and policy. Scott N. Hendrix Ph.D. H-WAR List Editor 1st Reply From: Terino, John Civ USAF AETC ACSC/DEW <John.Terino@MAXWELL.AF.MIL> Subject: RE: Most "Law Abiding Adversary" Date: March 10, 2010 10:28:53 AM EST To: H-NET Military History Discussion List <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> If we are going to have a reasonable discussion about the laws of war in relation to limited war and total war aims, let us at least make sure we get our facts and actors straight. The Doolittle Raid was not about firebombing civilians. If one wants to discuss Jimmy Doolittle and what his raid was trying to accomplish and the actual results, one would be hard pressed to describe it as anything more than a pin prick to boost morale. To describe any of the bombing in OIF as "savagery" is a complete misuse of the term and demonstrates a total lack of understanding or knowledge of modern air operations as conducted by the United States. One can certainly debate the values of Hiroshima as a military target, but in the context of World War II, it could certainly be justified as such and in terms of casualties and expectations at the time, it certainly could be understood as less destructive than firebomb raids of other cities. Moreover, the damage wrought by the single bomb was certainly not completely understood by all the decision makers. In the context of the repeated atrocities committed by Japanese forces since the invasion of Manchuria in the 1930s and the near fanatical resistance put up by their troops, it is hard to really level the moral playing field objectively. Strategic bombing by the United States was not value free or morally neutral in practice, but care should be taken when one wants to point to American warmaking as particularly savage in comparison to other nations conduct in the same era. Eisenhower's warnings about the destructive potential of the military industrial complex upon American society itself are an interesting issue to bring into a discussion about actual conduct during war. Certainly American war making has not been pristine, completely moral in all cases and situations, and not above judgment. However, the values of a nation and its perceptions of the values of its opponents go a long way toward influencing the conduct of individual soldiers and airmen, the actions of leaders, and the enforcement of judicial and societal norms. The current issues in the United States surrounding the status of combatants in an irregular war and the measures employed regarding incarceration and interrogation speak volumes about the influence of values and legal norms upon conduct in war. Eisenhower was more concerned about the corrosive effects and negative influences of creating a garrison state and associated bureaucracy upon his vision of American life in terms of limited federal government and minimal spending on military structures. The result of undue militarism in political and social spheres were certainly evident to him after witnessing the results of the major wars of the 20th century. Carr's book probably makes a good philosophical argument, but it must be judged in concert with actual facts. If a discussion on law, morality, and savagery is going to take place on this list, let us at least make sure we attribute the right actions to the right actors in the right context. Doolittle's raid against Japan is far different from Doolittle's direction of operations with the Eighth Air Force in Europe in scope, results, and issues regarding targeting and morality. If we want to discuss firebombing in the Pacific, then we can discuss General Curtis LeMay and his operational direction of aircraft and targeting. John Terino Air Command and Staff College Maxwell AFB, AL 2nd Reply I must second Mark Stouts critique of Walter James McIntosh. 6000 civilian casualties is infact remarably low. To prove this point, I wish to cite wikipedia on the 1943 bombing of Hamburg: "Operation Gomorrah caused at least 50,000 deaths, and left over a million German civilians homeless. Approximately 3,000 aircraft were deployed, 9,000 tons of bombs were dropped, and over 250,000 homes and houses were destroyed." This suggest 5,5 deaths to the ton of ordinance dropped. In the London Blitz, the ratio was app. 1 death to the ton. And these were well organized societies, possesing warning systems and some kind of shellter for civilians. This would give some idea of how casualties would be if one reallly put ones mind to it, even with primitive WWII technology. I would not even bother to calculate the same ratios with regards to the 1991 and 2003 campaigns against Iraq. The shere configuration of US forces more than suggest that McIntosh is wrong. Why use millions of dollars on sophisticated equipment if you only want to inflict casualties? If he was right, the US just had to masss produce thousands upon thosands of primitive Honest John-like missiles, point them in the general direction of Bagdad and kill of large propotions of the populations in Hamburg-like conditions - let say 5-6 millions even by using only conventional war heads. It would be much cheeper, there would be no US casualties and fewer PST disorders. The Iraqis, much like the Germans and the Japanese in 1945, would be too dazed and confused to even think about resisting for at least 20 years. In a way, that the media and intelectuals lack the historical knowledge and imagination to even concieve of such reasoning is a testemony of their sound moral fibre, but rather unfair to the US Military. Frode Lindgjerdet, Archivist, Norwegian Home Guard, Freelance Historian Original Message 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 limited 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 .=20 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 cannot 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. "=20 Think of James Doolittle's firebombing 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.=20 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.=20 Walter James McIntosh=20 Bluff, New Zealand=20 ----- 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 -----