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The Fallacy of human Rights in Warfare

John2.0

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Basically, ever since the last hundred years or so, the World has been concerned with Human rights on the battle field, but I'm going to take the road less traveled, an say that this is a fallacy. I will prove that this new trend is a fallacy by presenting two points. One, "human rights" do not exist, and two a belief in human rights has lea to more suffering than without them.

The first point I think is key, Human rights do not exist. There is no proof that any supposed "human rights" exist. Remember, for something to be a "right", it needs to be something that you are born with, and that can't be rightfully taken away from you. Also, a "right" needs to be universally recognized by all men in some way. Since a "right", by definition, comes from nature. So, if we are following nature, every group of people on the planet needs to recognize these rights. however, this is the exact opposite of what we see in real life. Every society has different interpretations of rights, and no two societies can seem to agree on exactly what constitutes a "right". Second, a right needs to be "unalienable", meaning that it can't be taken away. But we see in every society that believes in rights, these rights are rarely followed. Take world war 2 for example. The US and Brittain believed in rights, but had no problem abusing them in order to further their goals. Nor did they care about siding with one of the most human rights abusing nations in the world: the soviet union.

The next point is that following human rights in war leads to more suffering. The USA and UK in WW2 ignored human rights, and deafeted nazism. However, in many recent wars we have followed human rights, leading to quagmires. If the US would ignore these imaginary rights, we would see wars become much easier to win, and we would see less oppressive regimes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should indescriminately kill people, but I believe we should follow the wise word of Thucydides who said: "Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.". So, in other word, we should follow what is best for our own civilization, no matter the cost.

So, for responses. Please write some messages that either prove that "human rights" actualy exist. Or show me that my analysis is somehow wrong.
 
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Wiseone

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The analysis is wrong because the path to victory in Afghanistan and Iraq has revolved around extreme attention to the people. Ignoring for a second anything what you might consider a "human right" can cause huge problems for the entire war effort. The long term progress we've made in Iraq and Afghanistan hasn't come from killing people, its come from getting the locals on our side.
Counter insurgency is the name of the game in this war and that means the battlefield is the hearts, minds, and support of the people.

But could you define what you mean by Human rights better? Your example about WW2 confuses me because the allies and even the Nazis followed rules of war for the most part. Both sides had reasonable records when it came to POWs, although the Soviets treated their POWs terribly and the Nazis treated Russian POWs just as bad. So clearly there was some respect for what I would consider human rights.
 
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spud_meister

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the concept of rights is a human construct, but that doesn't make them any less important, on the battlefield or off, they stem from another of those pesky human delusions, honour, which has been around since humanity formed civilisations (as far as i know anyway). i am sure if we completely removed the notions of 'honour' and 'rights' from warfare, it would make it simpler and easier, why risk troops when you can use gas, or tactical nukes?
the whole idea of rights in warfare stems from the maxim "treat others as you wish to be treated" take America for example, if it had decided to use nerve gas, or irradiate areas of insurrection in Iraq or Afghanistan, it would make the war progress a lot quicker, but America won't be top dog forever, and if it ever falls, and gets invaded by a stronger country, i'm sure the citizens would be hoping they were not on the receiving end of these quicker, more effective weapons.
as long as honour and rights remain in war, the human race has a chance of surviving itself.
 

cpwill

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First, your approach to Human Rights is the materialist one. As a Theist, I have to take exception; our basic dignities (what we call our rights) are inherent in our creation, gifts from our Creator. That others do not recognize these gifts no less makes them ours than me stealing your TV means you no longer have a legitimate claim to it.

Second, Wiseone is correct; in a counterinsurgency we have spent alot of time and alot of lives learning the (apparently difficult to internalize) lesson that minimum force is preferred and the will of the local populace is the high ground. It is worth going beyond this, however, to point out that this is a factor in conventional warfare as well. We had to fight WWII not least because of the bad way in which we waged peace after WWI.
 
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VoodooChild

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I agree with wiseone also. But I think john2.0’s point was not that we should start nuking countries or killing off an entire race. He was making the point that everyone today has some sort of obsession with treating our nations enemies “humanely”. Winning “hearts and minds” as we call it is one thing. But someone whining about our soldiers not treating an enemy humanly and how they should be punished for violating human rights is different than an overall strategy of winning “hearts and minds” to win the war.
 

Goshin

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Humane behavior towards the enemy is a luxury, that you can only afford when the survival of all that you hold dear is not at stake.
 

VoodooChild

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the concept of rights is a human construct, but that doesn't make them any less important, on the battlefield or off, they stem from another of those pesky human delusions, honour, which has been around since humanity formed civilisations (as far as i know anyway). i am sure if we completely removed the notions of 'honour' and 'rights' from warfare, it would make it simpler and easier, why risk troops when you can use gas, or tactical nukes?
the whole idea of rights in warfare stems from the maxim "treat others as you wish to be treated" take America for example, if it had decided to use nerve gas, or irradiate areas of insurrection in Iraq or Afghanistan, it would make the war progress a lot quicker, but America won't be top dog forever, and if it ever falls, and gets invaded by a stronger country, i'm sure the citizens would be hoping they were not on the receiving end of these quicker, more effective weapons.
as long as honour and rights remain in war, the human race has a chance of surviving itself.

Squd_neuster….. Do you think the reason why New York hasn’t had a VX warhead dropped on it. Or why Washington hasn’t been nuked. Has ANYTHING to do with us not using nerve gas or nukes on our enemies today. Come on, the only reason those haven’t happened is because the enemies or our nation don’t have the ability. We are talking about people who have used bombs, airplanes, anthrax, small arms, etc to kill unarmed civilians men women and children for jihad.

"Treat others as you wish to be treated"... that is some kindergartener crap.

I go with “treat someone how they deserve to be treated”
 

Wiseone

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I agree with wiseone also. But I think john2.0’s point was not that we should start nuking countries or killing off an entire race. He was making the point that everyone today has some sort of obsession with treating our nations enemies “humanely”. Winning “hearts and minds” as we call it is one thing. But someone whining about our soldiers not treating an enemy humanly and how they should be punished for violating human rights is different than an overall strategy of winning “hearts and minds” to win the war.
Treating our enemies humanely and to an extent greater than the rules require is neccesary to win these conflicts in Afghanistan. Its not a question of rght or wrong or what they deserve or dont deserve, its about understanding the conflict and how to achieve victory.
 

VoodooChild

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Treating our enemies humanely and to an extent greater than the rules require is neccesary to win these conflicts in Afghanistan. Its not a question of rght or wrong or what they deserve or dont deserve, its about understanding the conflict and how to achieve victory.

And I agree with you. What I’m saying is a General treating a nation we have invaded a certain way to aid him in getting the job done is different than a Politian treating a invaded nation a certain way to make the American people feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I’m not disagreeing with you.
 

Wiseone

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And I agree with you. What I’m saying is a General treating a nation we have invaded a certain way to aid him in getting the job done is different than a Politian treating a invaded nation a certain way to make the American people feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I’m not disagreeing with you.
My mistake.
 

ecofarm

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Humane behavior towards the enemy is a luxury, that you can only afford when the survival of all that you hold dear is not at stake.

A unit that mortgages its humanity will soon find itself bankrupt on the battlefield and in history.
 
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Goshin

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A unit that mortgages its humanity will soon find itself bankrupt on the battlefield and in history.

Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki.
 

ecofarm

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The a-bombs were merciful for everyone involved. Dresden likely appeared necessary at the time. Neither represents a loss of humanity, but a strength of conviction. Even if Dresden was a mistake, I do not hold that it was an intentional massacre of (targeted) civilians. And, we got Slaughterhouse Five, so we gotta weigh and balance things.
 
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Goshin

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The a-bombs were merciful for everyone involved. Dresden likely appeared necessary at the time. Neither represents a loss of humanity, but a strength of conviction. Even if Dresden was a mistake, I do not hold that it was an intentional massacre of (targeted) civilians. And, we got Slaughterhouse Five, so we gotta weigh and balance things.
There are many today who would vow that Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reprehensible acts lacking in humanity. Imagine if we nuked Tehran, or if we had firebombed Tikrit into charred carbon, along with tens of thousands of women and children.

In a sense they were (relatively inhumane). We knew tens of thousands of civilian men, women and children were going to perish in each of those three cities, and yet we did it anyway. We did it because we were faced with a war in which our survival as a free nation was potentially at stake. If the Axis wasn't stopped, they wouldn't stop until they ruled the world with a system and a methodology most of us would find abhorrent. We knew that massive casualties among the civilian population would be a morale-buster and dramtically reduce their will to fight the war, to keep supporting their armies in the field.

In short, humanity took a backseat to survival.
 

ecofarm

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There are many today who eat their boogers.

In short, your knowledge takes a back seat to politics. The a-bombs were merciful.
 
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Goshin

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There are many today who eat their boogers.

In short, your knowledge takes a back seat to politics. The a-bombs were merciful.

Your statement makes no sense. I assume that means you concede the argument?

Were those who suffered flash-burns that were not instantly fatal, but instead left them dying for days, beneficiaries of this "mercy"? How about those who were not instantly killed, but suffered radiation poisoning and spent days excreting pieces of their internal organs before dying?

Don't get me wrong, I do not have a problem with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, or Dresden. What I'm saying is that the definition of "humane" treatement of the enemy varies from one generation to the next... and it also varies based on how much real danger we are currently in, of losing all that we hold dear.

The greater that danger, the less likely we are to act according to what we'd consider "humane" in other periods of time when the danger was less. Civilization is a thin veneer that tends to peel away quickly in desperate survival situations.

In 1945, we feared a world-spanning fascist empire, and we killed enemy civilians en-mass. Today, we are not as afraid of anyone as we were then, and we fret over relatively small things like waterboarding, and whether an attack-chopper gunner's actions in killing a couple of men who might or might not have been enemy insurgents was legit. If our fear was greater, we'd be less squeamish.
 
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ecofarm

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"There are many today who would vow that Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reprehensible acts lacking in humanity." = "There are many today who eat their boogers". In other words, you don't have an argument there; what you've got is a veiled endorsement. Other than a veiled endorsement, there is no reason to bring up conspiracy theory as a viable consideration. You cannot honestly expect to entertain every half-wit CT in every topic; if you bring one up, it's not 'just being fair'... it's 'being obstructionist' at best and 'being underhanded' at worst.

And then you go on to "imagine if we nuked Tehran", as if we could simply transplant context or ignore it altogether. Fact is, an invasion of Japan (which was otherwise absolutely necessary - don't forget, the usurping of their government was not optional due to the sneak attack) would have cost more lives on both sides. There were two ways of bringing the government down: invade at the cost of ~.5m people per side (perhaps millions of Japanese) or a-bombs. The US chose correctly.



ps. I do not endorse the eating of boogers; I was just being facetious.
 
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Goshin

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And then you go on to "imagine if we nuked Tehran", as if we could simply transplant context or ignore it altogether. Fact is, an invasion of Japan (which was otherwise absolutely necessary - don't forget, the usurping of their government was not optional due to the sneak attack) would have cost more lives on both sides. There were two ways of bringing the government down: invade at the cost of ~.5m people per side (perhaps millions of Japanese) or a-bombs. The US chose correctly.
I'm aware of this, nor do I disagree that we made the right choice. Also, we aren't seriously considering nuking Tehran because we aren't sufficiently afraid that Iran is a threat to our very survival, as we feared Imperial Japan in 1945. (Though actually Iran could be a very serious threat indeed, at some point not too far off.... 'nuther subject.)





"There are many today who would vow that Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reprehensible acts lacking in humanity." = "There are many today who eat their boogers". In other words, you don't have an argument there; what you've got is a veiled endorsement. Other than a veiled endorsement, there is no reason to bring up conspiracy theory as a viable consideration. You cannot honestly expect to entertain every half-wit CT in every topic; if you bring one up, it's not 'just being fair'... it's 'being obstructionist' at best and 'being underhanded' at worst.

ps. I do not endorse the eating of boogers; I was just being facetious.
I have no idea why you're bringing conspiracy theory into it. I'm pointing out that TODAY, Dresden Hiroshima Nagasaki would be contrary to existing US policy on "targeting civilians", the media would **** kittens sideways, and half the population of the USA would call the bombing and all involved babykilling fascists. It's just a fact: at present, our notions of humane treatment of enemies are far more squeamish and fastidious than they were in 1945. I'm asserting that the main reason for that is that we don't feel so much in danger of losing our way of life and our nation, as we did in WW2... supporting my argument that "humane" treatment of the enemy is somewhat proportional to how scared we are of them, and how desperate we are to avoid losing all.

I am attempting to figure out what your point is, or what you are trying to assert, when you speak of conspiracy theory and obstructionism.... do you think that a large majority of people would be in favor of targeting civilians today, absent a threat to our very existence? Perhaps you should start a poll and see what the results are. From what I've seen, half or more of the people at DP are extremely squeamish about total-warfare concepts, to the point that half of them freak out if a couple of "civilians" wander into the line of fire and get killed somewhere in Iraq.

I mean, I hear people all the time saying we should APOLOGIZE for nuking Japan... one would presume they consider the destruction of the three cities I mentioned to be inhumane. I don't agree but there appear to be plenty of bleeding hearts who do...
 
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Goshin

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Maybe I should try a different tack. How about this:

"The definition of what is humane treatment of enemies is not an absolute standard, but rather it varies from era to era, culture to culture, and individual to individual."

Agree or disagree?
 

ecofarm

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"Dresden Hiroshima Nagasaki would be contrary to existing US policy on "targeting civilians""

1. False.
2. You need to separate the a-bombs from Dresden. The former is beyond reproach as necessary, the latter is of some question as to its necessity (whatever motives one may choose to believe). Lumping them together strains intellectual honesty or betrays ignorance regarding the events.


"The definition of what is humane treatment of enemies is not an absolute standard, but rather it varies from era to era, culture to culture, and individual to individual."

Of course, but given the choice today of killing 1-(5?) million people and dropping two a-bombs, we make the same decision. The Dresden event is more likely to be modified under modern decision by logistic and strategic intelligence than by morals, as the aforementioned were arguably questionable.


In order to prove that either event is 'less humane', one would need to prove that either event was designed to do more harm than good (or disregarded the costs). I believe that claim is unsupportable. As both events were designed to stop more suffering than they caused, your point is lost. Only via a "they just wanted to kill innocent people" argument can you even continue. If you DO take that position, then we're done anyway.
 
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Chuz Life

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Maybe I should try a different tack. How about this:

"The definition of what is humane treatment of enemies is not an absolute standard, but rather it varies from era to era, culture to culture, and individual to individual."

Agree or disagree?
If I may add just one more point of view,...

To Ecofarm's point,.... "when we mortgage our humanity,... we bankrupt ourselves,..." I agree.

To the point that you are making, Goshin... "it's measured, individual and often times depends on the circumstances?"

I also agree.

The point I think you both might agree on is that "we can not afford for our desires to be seen as "humane" to be used as a weapon against us."

Our humanity is a show of our strength,... not our weakness.
 

Goshin

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"Dresden Hiroshima Nagasaki would be contrary to existing US policy on "targeting civilians""

1. False.
Hmm... I'm reasonably sure you're wrong about that.

For one thing, existing military policy is minimizing "collateral damage" and no deliberate targeting of civilians. Certainly all three examples violate that policy.

Okay, so maybe that is why it is a matter of strategic-level decisionmaking, rather than military/tactical. Okay, if we look at that, I understand that Obama has said that we wouldn't necessarily retalitate with nukes against civilian targets, even if somone nuked an American city or set off a high-altitude EMP over North America. If you'll recall, the idea of using nuclear "bunker-busters" was roundly condemned by a majority of nations when the idea was kicked around a few years back.

There does seem to be a modern aversion to using nukes, or targeting civilians, that was far less notable in 1945.

2. You need to separate the a-bombs from Dresden. The former is beyond reproach as necessary, the latter is of some question as to its necessity (whatever motives one may choose to believe).
Then this helps prove my point: in 1945 we were scared enough of the Nazi's to do something like firebomb the civilian population of a city with little or no military-target-value. Today, you agree that this is outside our modern definition of humane warfare. We were more scared and more desperate then... but I firmly believe we'd do the same and worse TODAY if we were desperate enough that all we held dear was about to go under.



"The definition of what is humane treatment of enemies is not an absolute standard, but rather it varies from era to era, culture to culture, and individual to individual."

Of course, but given the choice today of killing 1-(5?) million people and dropping two a-bombs, we make the same decision. The Dresden event is more likely to be modified under modern decision by logistic and strategic intelligence than by morals, as the aforementioned were arguably questionable.
In my opinion, this fits in with the point that I was making. We balance "humane treatment of the enemy" against the question of how desperate we are. We were desperate not to have to invade Japan conventionally, because the loss of life on both sides would have been enormous... and I don't doubt for a second that we were far more concerned with our own loss of life than the Japanese loss of life. Please note that I'm not accusing "us" of immorality when I say that, but merely of a degree of pragmatism.

No one is seriously talking about nuking Tehran because we aren't scared that Iran can/will actually destroy or enslave America. It would be viewed as inhumane to nuke a civilian population simply because we're afraid they might one day have and use nukes against us. If, however, they actually did nuke an American city or two, our definition of what is "inhumane" would likely change.

My point is simply that we have done and will do things we presently refer to as "inhumane", if we get desperate enough. How desperate we are is conditional on the size, scope and credibility of the threat we are facing. I'm not sure why this is so hard to accept, it appears all but self-evident to me.

On September 12, 2001, 90% of the population of the USA would probably have been perfectly OK with waterboarding terrorists who might have information that could prevent a new terror attack; granted that is speculation on my part but by golly I don't think I am far wrong! People were scared. Today, a majority of people I talk with consider it "torture" and morally reprehensible, and bash the Bush admin for allowing it to happen post-911. :roll:
 

ecofarm

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The a-bombs targeted Japan's ability to wage war and/or resist US invasion. Dresden targetted an industrial area, that might not have needed to be destroyed in order to end the war in a timely manner. While it is debatable if firebombing Dresden was necessary, it is NOT debatable that the a-bombs prevented far more suffering than they caused and the decision to use them was merciful to humanity.


In neither case were civilians 'targetted'. You need to clarify your understanding of the words 'targetted' and 'collateral'. Just as it is today, the collateral damage was deemed worth the benefit to humanity.
 
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Goshin

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Our humanity is a show of our strength,... not our weakness.

EXACTLY!!!! THAT IS EXACTLY MY POINT!!! :mrgreen:

We have the capacity to worry about whether we are treating the enemy humanely, chiefly because we are strong and do not really fear them very much.

Now, if the Nazis (to use a historical reference) were marching thru the streets of New York City, and divisions of Panzers were massing on the Potomac River, and they were gassing American Jews, Gypsies, Communists, Homos, and whoever else they considered "undesireable" in death camps built outside of Kennebunkport Massachusetts... most people would be a lot more inclined to worry about beating them any way we could, and less inclined to worry about whether the means were "humane".

Our capacity for humanity is indeed a show of our strength... and much of it would vanish like snowflakes on an oven if we were on the verge of extermination.

Consider the various underground resistance groups in Nazi-occupied nations during WW2... some of them used some pretty nasty "terror tactics" at times.
 
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