- Oct 17, 2007
- Reaction score
- New York
- Political Leaning
Perhaps the phrase "weasel words" was too harsh. "Euphemism" is a better word. Deterence is a euphemism for terror.
The late George Kennan and also Henry Kissinger, et al., would be surprised to learn that deterrence is a euphemism for terror. It isn't.
The achilles heel of this post and of many others you have written is your insistence that there is a difference between civilians and soldiers. That is true in the U.S., but it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how clan-based societies operate. The entire clan/tribe/village operates as a single unit. Of course, there is a division of labor and physically demanding jobs are performed by the young men, but neither they nor anybody else in the clan conceptually divides them from their elders or from frail members who perform crucial but less glamorous tasks.
The Laws of War strictly define who is/is not a civilian. You appear to misunderstand that definition, making it much broader than it is e.g., as seen in your hypothetical scenario with the AH-6 helicopter. An unarmed person who is playing a command-control function is a military objective, not a civilian. A police officer who is part of a militia is also a legitimate military objective. On that latter point, the Goldstone report's creative bid to carve out a new civilian exception is wrong.
Suppose that an AH-6 Little Bird helicopter is chopping your position to pieces with its M230 chain gun. You'll have to think quick! Your options are:
1) Using your "tribal elders are not pirates" logic you conclude that the pilot is not a combatant. Thus, the Laws of War demand that you use a precision sniper rifle to shoot the co-pilot, who is the one at the chain gun's trigger.2) You launch an SA-7, blowing the helicopter out of the air and killing both the pilot and the co-pilot.
Obviously, option #2 is the only one that actually works.
That hypothetical analogy has no merit. The helicopter is carrying out a combat role. That makes the helicopter and its entire crew a military objective. Option 2 is consistent with the Laws of War and it's the one I would recommend.
Going back to your suggested approach for addressing the Somali pirate issue, you wrote (quoted from message #119 in this thread):
Give me command of just one destroyer for a single day and I will put an abrupt end to the entire piracy problem. There are too many Somalis anyway. Nobody will miss the ones who live along the coast. The inland Somalis can make an honest living at farming - I'll even offer to pay top dollar for any agricultural products they have to sell. But the ones on the coast have to die.
The reason your suggested approach for dealing with the pirate problem runs afoul of the Laws of War is the indiscriminate and sweeping nature of what you propose: wiping out the entire coastal population. You also rationalized that suggestion by stating that "there are too many Somalis anyway." That judgment has absolutely nothing to do with military considerations.