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Thursday, 14 November 2013

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Look this entirely unacceptable. Here I am paying (or not as the case may be, we'll quibble over minor details later) for a BBC level service and getting ITV without even the advertisements (or that really difficult sum to do on the little girls blackboard). If you're going to do this sort of thing again, at least give me a recommendation for which washing powder I should buy.

The west in modern times have been embroiled in a number of conflicts many of which have had far from happy outcomes. Certainly battles have been won with relative ease because of the west's technological and resource advantage but the policing of the peace gained has been far from successful and ultimately the war has been lost. The Vietnam war could have been won and was on the point of being so but the bleeding hearts won the day and the war was lost. Currently we are in conflict with many terrorist and ideological groups that do not share our standards and values and seek to engineer our downfall and way of life. They do not have any code of conduct that could be remotely be described as honorable and will stoop to any and all atrocities to gain their ends. To defeat these our enemies efficiently and completely we are not going to do it with our current strategies, tactics and attitudes unless we are more ruthless in our approach. Therefore we must make a decision either we are going to win the moral high ground and not win the war or forget playing by the rules and win the war and eradicate our enemies after all that is what they seek to do to us. To those who cry that if we lose the moral high ground we will lose hearts and minds I say "that is all duff and nonsense". It is not hearts and minds that we want but respect respect of the fact that similar actions against us will be met decisively and will be similarly crushed.

The commercial break is over, Able, and the reason you didn't see anything was because the only ad was for Duff Motors and the best creative minds in Ad-land couldn't think of a single good thing to say!

Antishenes, first of all welcome to D&N. Your comment arrived just as I printed the second half of my original post so it is rather apt. Let me respond thus:

a) I think any attempt for western powers to take the moral high ground is exceedingly dubious! I will not list the atrocities for which we rightly stand accused because they are so numerous. Let one stand as an example - the final two years of WWII when we rained down death and destruction on German cities and German people (including especially women and children) for no strategic purpose whatsoever.
b) What honourable cause was being fought in Vietnam? Was protection of a grossly corrupt dictator in South Vietnam worth all that blood and treasure to keep out an equally corrupt party dictator from North Vietnam?
c) And, pray, what on earth are we fighting for in Afghanistan? In retrospect, and to paraphrase Bismarck's famous phrase, was it worth the bones of a single British Grenadier? Is President Karsai who the Afghani people want as a leader?
d) I would remind you that in most wars *both sides* believe they have the moral high ground but in the end, usually, only one of them wins! Thus, possession of it does not seem to be a crucial factor.

I have been following your articles for some time now and enjoy them very much. I have not commented previously not because my command of the English language is poor(even though it is my native tongue)and my pros and grammar leave a lot to be desired. I am past being embarrassed about that as I believe what I say is understandable enough. It is mostly because you have already articulated what I would want to say or I am not intellectually up to making a worthwhile Contribution.

I agree with most of your response to my comment. With hindsight it is easy to judge that many wars that we have been engaged in should never have happened. In many cases at the time that would have been less able to discern because the perceived threat appeared real. Fortunately or otherwise economics and social attitudes have made engaging in future wars less likely unless the threat is known to be absolutely and irrefutably a direct one to us. The only point I would disagree with you on is your d). I accept that both sides believe they have the moral high ground but that is not the point. The point I am making is that we act less ruthlessly than the enemy to show to others that we are acting from the moral high ground and they are not then we hamstringing ourselves to the point that we will lose the war. I see no point in losing to make others see us in a better light than our enemies when those others will also see us as been defeatable and or taken advantage of.

Antisthenes, sorry, I can't worry about your grammar (which seems perfectly clear to me) because I have enough worries with our resident Headmaster, 'DM', who dishes me out 50 lines if I so much as use a comma when I should have used a semi-colon! And anyway, as JK, another regular here, writes nothing but perfect 'Arkie' which is so incomprehensible even those who live in Arkansas can't understand each other, you really do not have a problem!

You make a subtle point at the end concerning ruthlessness in war but in the context of my original post I think you may be confusing two separate things. To be 'ruthless' in war is almost always essential, or to be precise, 'ruthless' in battle. As Clausewitz put it (I paraphrase) 'the first duty of a commander in the field is the destruction of the enemy's means of resistance' (ie, his army) and the emphasis is on the word "destruction". In other words, it is no good just pushing the enemy off the field of battle in disarray, you must destroy them utterly because that way they never come back.

There is also a case to be made for inflicting severe punishment on the civilian population as a means of breaking national resistance but if WWII is any guide I don't think it has ever worked.

Anyway, all that is at the operational/strategic level. Let us return to the nitty-gritty of what happens on or close to the battlefield. It seems to me (who, thank God, never took part in a battle) that whilst the fight is on then ruthlessness is essential. However, once it ends then it is better if humanity takes over, if not for humanitarian reasons then for self-interest because WWII (and Korea) gave several examples in which the murder of surrendering soldiers simply resulted in even fiercer resistance by defenders - for obvious reasons. Similarly, when the tables were turned then your side can expect little in the way of humanity by return!

Even so, the matter goes deeper than mere tactics. War is part and parcel of human existence but if we forget our humanity then what is the point of any of it - we might just as well revert to animal behaviour. Col. Tim Collins said it, literally, in front of his troops prior to the Iraq war and I could not in a million years put it better:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3562917/Colonel-Tim-Collins-Iraq-war-speech-in-full.html

"War is part and parcel of human existence but if we forget our humanity then what is the point of any of it - we might just as well revert to animal behaviour."

If one side, or a faction of one side, has lost its humanity, then there is mitigation for less than human treatment of that side, or faction, by their enemy. As you say, when fighting that group it has ceased to be war anymore, rather it is a struggle between humans and animals already - a sort of version of the hunting of which you so approve, where the animals are given a "fair chance". And these animals have a very fair chance, AK47's, IED's, and RPG's considered.

In this non-war situation, I wouldn't disapprove of stooping to conquer, so to speak, and lowering ones standards of treatment for that particular enemy. For example, shooting captured SS at a liberated death camp is a different kettle of fish from shooting captured Wehrmacht conscripts.

And you say "what's the point of any of it", well, not being over-run by animals, I suppose.

SoD

"If one side, or a faction of one side, has lost its humanity, then there is mitigation for less than human treatment of that side, or faction,"

Remember, the basis of the west, as David said, is Christianity, so what you are saying here goes against the very foundation of the west, and our civilization, and our laws. You are making us like them, and I can't think of anything worse than "them".

David, I don't see why you don't make the next step and just admit that all war should be avoided as far as is humanly possible. Look at marine "A". We taught him to kill, we put him in a situation that any sane man would find trying, then he killed, and we started talking about conventions, the rules of war, and so on. And btw, our economies are the pits. There is no sense to this war. Sometimes I read an article claiming that young girls in Afghanistan are now in school. Great! How many young men are now In wheel chairs?

Complicated as you say (I had to think about it. A three cigar, one pot of tea and a short-lie-down-in-a-darkened-room-as-my-head-hurts problem, Watson).

You've raised issues of morals/ethics, the depersonalising/dehumanising of the enemy, the warrior code/honour and the concept of mercy. The problem is that how we understand those very concepts is reliant on our shared Judeo Christian heritage. You may be an atheist but the structure, the very moral framework and (I'm sure the philosophers out there will gag at my use of language) even the cognitive frame of reference we use is defined by the Christian basis of our parents, society and culture. A cognitive filter, if you will, through which we view the world.

Consider that our societies common beliefs as expressed, not in statute, but in the common law, which reflects the mores, both prescriptive and permissive, but also the base concepts, are all based on Christian tenets. For example consider the view that it is justifiable to defend oneself, family and property, even to killing the attacker/thief, 'at the time' but that it is 'not' justifiable to later track him down and kill him (Exodus 22:1-31), an assumption that will elicit a bemused look, if not pitying laughter, in some cultures. (Oh and 'killing is not prescribed, the proscription is 'thou shal't not commit murder').

Then consider the fact that those we are currently fighting have a perspective, based on their religion, that is not only different to ours but antithetical to it. In acting as they do they are acting morally, honourably and even showing mercy from their perspective. Remember the Japanese in WW 2, their concepts required that surrendered troops be treated in the way we found inexplicable and barbaric, yet in their society they were acting as honourable men (observe even now they struggle to apologise for those actions, they may have been forced to observe our concepts living in a Christian dominated world, but that does not mean they agree or even really understand them even now).

Islam 'requires' that unbelievers be subjugated or killed, period. All actions to achieve this, however contrary to Christian morals, however barbaric, are not only acceptable but mandatory. It is entirely normal, acceptable and justifiable to torture and mutilate an enemy. It is 'honourable' to lie and deceive an unbeliever. To them mercy 'is' torture, mutilation and slavery (not only of any imagined transgressor but of their wife and children too, they are not independent entities, they are property, part of the man). To kill an enemy, however it is achieved, is their highest aim ensuring their place in their heaven.

So how do you deal with an enemy like that? An enemy who doesn't even understand our concept of surrender, where they will quite happily, and consistent with their beliefs, 'surrender' and then kill the medic giving them first aid (you think I exaggerate, I don't believe me. It's merely another reflection of lying to an enemy, just as joining/acting as a liaison and then using your access to kill your 'allies').

The act of dehumanising an enemy is nothing new (consistent throughout the history of conflict as far back as you'd care to look), it's a normal reaction even to normal daily existence, the designation as 'the other' (he's left-wing, he's a Man U supporter, she's Goth) – the tribal trait in us all. It does not, in any way, detract from respecting an opponent but does allow some measure of 'coping' in a conflict. But as to your description of respecting a 'determined, brave enemy'. Seriously? I've been to the Sandbox, the Rockpile and a few other places and I can guarantee that they do not fit any of my conceptual understandings of those words. Is it brave to wear no identification, to only fight where they can do so from behind women and children, to deliberately target the women/children/non-combatants of an enemy (or anyone who might vaguely disagree with you), to commit atrocities safe in the knowledge you'll be left unharmed if caught because of your opponents 'strange' views (even to the point of being able to complain about the food and accommodations)? (The Kenyan mall is exactly how they act/fight, do not read in any depth unless you have a strong stomach).

As I've said, I was in NI, I've been to both Iraq and Afghanistan, I was even in Bosnia Herzegovina (yes I still have nightmares, ask Michael about the bender I went on when you first reminded me – thank you so much) so my opinions may vary wildly from the accepted. The base assumption that 'when the battle/war is over' we should revert to a 'nicer us' meme is a fallacious one for me. Does a battle/war cease only when the bullets stop flying, or when one side is defeated? You cannot ever win by being 'nicer' than your opponent, even when he is 'like you'. When he is not, you guarantee only that you'll be a morally superior slave/corpse. And when he keeps fighting when you've assumed it's all peace and roses you're literally 'attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped helically around an axis'.

I could use an example from NI but let's look at Bosnia. After the Bosnian War the (orthodox) Serbs are rightly despised for their actions but they were, whatever the msm (and the supposed impartial investigation) says, reacting to a constant, low level norm of such behaviour by the (muslim) Bosniaks for some time beforehand. They are rightly vilified only because, disgustingly, they were just 'better' at it. I remember (Lord how I wish I didn't) talking with a mid-level Serbian 'officer'. He laughed at my disgust citing the fact that 'they had won' and that 'his people' were still alive. Much as I wished for a shower (and to scrub my mind with caustic soap) afterwards, he was right. If they hadn't done it, it would have been done to them. I'm definitely no conspiracy theorist (I hope, they really are out to get me in their black helicopters) but we are in the midst of a clash/war of cultures, and I'd rather be 'judged by twelve than carried by six', and my family/friends/culture too. (Consider the regular pronouncements of various average imams, they at least describe it as a war).

Should we act morally and with honour? Of course, but doing so in the middle of a battle, especially when your opponent, rather than gratitude and reciprocation, will react to it as a weakness to be exploited, is just blind stupidity.

I know you wished to avoid it, but on the topic which prompted this discussion. In 'areas' where sundry 'surrendered' prisoners then kill or maim their captors/medics/civilians you reach a point where prisoners are simply no longer taken. Would you act in any other way yourself, or judge it wrong? What is immoral, unethical and dishonourable is the denying of the rationale and the necessity to act in this way, and punishing somebody caught doing what has become an SOP for a very real reason.

Oh, God, it's only ten to nine and I've got a headache already! I will not attempt to reply to each of you, instead I will just refine and repeat my argument.

First of all, once battle has ended then the *nature* of your enemy is irrelevant in deciding how to deal with him. (Yes, I do realise that there is, so to speak, a 'warming down' period in the immediate aftermath of a fight in which the blood is still pumping and where actions are not necessarily rational but let us set that aside as a special case.)

I maintain that the nature of your enemy is irrelevant because you are you! If *you* behave like an animal, so be it, but then (perhaps like Marine 'A') you must not be surprised if fellow members of your society who believe that we are not animals bring down the full weight of law on your head. It is perfectly possible, as Col. Collins, a very tough soldier, spells out with absolute clarity and superb eloquence, to be exceedingly ruthless in the fight but regain humanity in the aftermath.

Secondly, if you are fighting a war of cultures (which is very rare because most wars are concerned with economics and politics and cultural differences are emphasised by politicians to cloak their real intent!) and you allow yourself to behave in the same manner as your enemy - then you have lost and he has won. You have become him!

By all means hate your enemy, if that makes you feel better or fight better, but when the fight is over contain your hatred and allow the institutions which have evolved over the centuries and which reflect, more or less, your country's values - which is the basis on which you are fighting - to do what they do. And, yes, I know they frequently botch the job but that's life!

It all seems very simple to me. WE do not kill people who have surrendered or people who are so badly wounded that they are incapable of surrendering. We just do not.

BOE has it exactly right. But there is one caveat. WE put marine A in circumstances that were so trying and so soul draining and so drenched in the kind of murder and filth that our enemy delights in, that perhaps we can go easy on his punishment. Otherwise WE are among those who have tortured him.

War is coarsening. That's one very good reason for not launching wars that involve no vital British interest. I don't know how A should be punished but I'm pretty confident that Blair should be hanged. Or handed over to the Taliban.

Whatever else might be said, and I have said a lot of it, the Geneva Conventions, several of them, specifically exclude the irregulars who fight in civilian garb, hide among civilians, fire from minarets. Well, they are not completely excluded. There is provision for a blindfold and a clean bullet. Talk morality toward the amoral if one must, but the law is quite specific.

I want to bring you back to your point: -

(1) You said that by lowering ourselves to their level, we have become animals.
(1.1) Therefore, their level is that of animals.
(1.2) Therefore, they are animals.
(1.3) Therefore, if we treat them like animals, we are not at war, we are hunting.
(1.4) Men and animals hunt animals.
(1.5) Therefore, we can remain human and hunt them as we would hunt animals.
(1.6) Therefore, we are not animals. Contradicts (1).

(2) Then in the same breath you say they are not animals.
(2.1) If they are not animals, then their level is not that of animals.
(2.2) So if we stoop to their level, we do not become animals.
(2.3) Therefore, we are not animals. Contradicts (1).

So in either case, we are not animals. In case (1), we must take care to hunt them like men would hunt animals or better, but not any worse. In case (2), we can do as they do.

The logic illustrates the difference between us and them when the outward behaviour appears indistinguishable: They are crawling by conviction and choice; we would stand by conviction and choice, but may stoop to conquer without being considered crawling.

SoD

"War is part and parcel of human existence"
I can't get past this.
Is it really true?
Ooooh, my head hurts and it's only 6 a.m.
Is it too early for booze?
JK? Anybody?

Oh, just to round off, when finding wounded prey, it is common for human hunters to dispatch it, so the Marine has done nothing wrong in case (1). And Taliban etc. wouldn't hesitate to dispatch our wounded, so he's done nothing wrong in case (2) either.

SoD

BoE

The correct term is captured not surrendering, as I've explained.

It's so much more morally acceptable to drop a 500 lb bomb or one of those caring Hellfires from a drone isn't it (it's just collateral damage dear)?

It's very easy to moralise from an armchair (or from 30000 ft) but a little less so when 'you' are the squaddie on the ground whom the wounded enemy will be blowing up when you go to administer first aid.

If you cannot see a difference between how you must, not should but must, deal with a suicide bomber and a normal (christian) soldier then I must question your judgement.

There is an ongoing discussion about women bemoaning the way they are now treated by men. One, well known, pundit pointed out that chivalry imposed obligations on 'both' men and women. When women refuse to abide by those obligations it is hypocritical to expect men to do so (against their own self-interest)

As here, obligations exist for both sides. Until such time as they abide by the obligation to act in a civilised manner it is hypocritical (and simply wrong) to insist that young squaddies die simply to live up to some 'ideal'. They aren't dehumanised or barbarous to act in their own self-interest and safety however you wish to portray it.

Andra

Of course it is. If you prefer to think of it as competition or conflict, would that help? I generally reserve the term war for situations of open and systematic, naked aggression where blood is spilled (ie. all my past relationships with my exs - my blood I hasten to add).

Just have a nice sherry chaser with your tinnie and she'll be apples.

When we allow ourselves and our comrades to be killed, for ostensibly religious reasons, then that religion is not Christianity, but something rather older, and it demands human sacrifice. Anyone who knows me knows that I have never been lacking in Christian charity, to a sacrificial degree. I never slit the throat of one of my children and threw him on a flaming altar. Letting a burglar in, letting a treacherous prisoner kill my comrades by stealth, is human sacrifice. Nope, not going there. We left that behind before we even went to Egypt. Whatever Moses needed to teach the Children of Israel, he did not have to tell them not to sacrifice human beings.

Able

You address a number of points that I haven't made, so I won't comment on them.

In my opinion in the world of Islam we are fighting savages. We shouldn't bother, just contain and quarantine them. However, we should stick to our principles.

As far as drone strikes are concerned, I repeat points I have made before. Unless the relevant government has agreed, drone flights in another country's airspace are illegal. Just wait till Chinese drones turn up over LA! In addition they seem to kill people including women and children whose only offence is that they belong to the savages.

I am also of the opinion that sherry is best drunk nice and cold as an aperitif.

Here you go, pack yer kit bag, darlin', we've got a job for you in a rocky, inhospitable place: -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10453255/TV-presenter-causes-outrage-after-posing-with-lion-she-killed.html

What a fantabulous pair of antlers.

SoD

SoD, very clever argument, mon cher, and you come across like one of this clever-Dick continental constructivist philosophers who can prove by using logic that 1+1=3! Yes, it's true, I did not place inverted commas round the word 'animal' but that doesn't allow you to take the word literally. It was obviously meant as a metaphor, as in 'animal-like'.

And, as some others above have pointed out, 'animal-like' behaviour is not confined to our opponents - although certain newspapers and politicians would have you believe it! The difference between firing a missile from a drone into a house in which you can be certain that civilians are present as well as combatants and a combatant placing a bomb in a crowded tube train is much the same difference as that between the famous 'louse and a flea'! It's war and the temptation is to believe that anything goes!

But, as I have already said, "anything" does *not* go if, that is, we value the Christian ethic which is the absolute foundation of everything we love about our own version of civilisation. The pity of it is that we seem determined in these materialistic days to give up our Christian ethic voluntarily which, if we succeed entirely, of course, makes any pretence that somehow we are better than them entirely spurious.

Col. Collins said it one way, Winston Churchill said it another:
"In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.

SoD, your latest missive, immediately above, arrived just as I was finishing. All I can say is, bugger my Christian ethics, I want that woman in my sights as soon as possible! or as Ricky Gervais put it, "What a hunt!"

BoE's on the right track by switching away from considering Taliban, SS, etc. to be animals, rather BoE prefers "savages". "Savage" I take to mean "a man behaving like an animal", not "a man who has become an animal".

Then if you replace each reference to "animal(s)" with "savage(s)", you find the logic breaks at (1.3) "Therefore, if we treat them like savages, we are not at war, we are hunting." is not true. Men hunt animals, not other men, and savages are not animals.

And (2) "In the same breath you say they are not savages", then the logic holds, and you can do as they do because it's not savagery. I would say (2) is self evidently wrong, and therefore the logic breaks down before it even starts.

So in summary, I conclude: if you consider Taliban, SS, etc. are animals, you can hunt them like animals and remain human; if you consider them savages (men behaving like animals), you cannot.

Which is rather obvious, I suppose.

SoD

And yours arrived while I was typing mine: "animal-like", glad we cleared that up!

SoD

Now look here, my boy, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit - as your mother has been telling me for years!

So long Andra, as the world rotates, it's just past noon somewhere enjoy your booze.

It's pretty much as Able I'm of the general opinion David, expresses it - when "in theater" Act!

A combatant's sole responsibility is not the same thing as a nation's (or a society's) - that responsibility is simply (in proper Hillbillyenese) Git 'er done, git out of theater.

Then and only then, return to playing nice.

Japan, Taliban, PIRA, Tamil Tigers etc did not sign up to the Geneva Convention therefore the Convention need not apply.

Jimmy, nobody's talking about the legalese of Geneva conventions, etc, we're talking about fundamental human morality as guided by our Christian history.

Jimmy, nobody's talking about the legalese of Geneva conventions, etc, we're talking about fundamental human morality as guided by our Christian history.

Actually David, "our Christian history" might be better stated, "our Judeo-Christian tradition" & for that - who better to ask:

https://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/11/targeted-killing-and-law-who-legitimate-target-and-when-target-legitimate

Blimey, JK, you're getting as pernickety as DM, but worse than that, you're right, of course. I have saved your link for later reading.

I am sure the natives that were conquered during the build up of the British Empire will concur that the British Christians were moral!
The Law of Armed Conflict which is ingrained in the minds of British soldiers is mainly to protect unarmed non combatant civilians, eg:never use them as shields.
And what do you make of the Christian Cameron asking for an international enquiry over Sri Lanka? Seems he has forgotten about the Christians Blair and Bush warmongerers.

All I can say, Jimmy, is that I served for nine years and I never heard of "The Law of Armed Conflict". Of course, the posturing of politicians knows no logic or reasoning.

David. I used the TL of AC, Army Code 71130 (revised 1981) as my secondary 20 min subject on my method of instruction course. It is Crown Copyright Reserved. It is not restricted and should be available to the public. I still have my copy.

Oh but here's a result: -

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/former-german-soccer-player-killed-in-syrian-civil-war-a-934148.html

See what I was on about now? The Syrian war is great for the West: All the Islamist nutters voluntarily leave - costing not a penny in extradition expenses, no Brit soldiers die or get locked up - and they all go to a spectacular shithole that no-one cares about, and kill each other. If I'd told you that was going to happen 3 years ago, you'd have called me a nutter, while wishing it was true.

And into the bargain, there's one less pseudo-Kraut on his way to Brazil next year to run rings round our numpties.

SoD


The problem is Lawrence is that the nutters that do survive are allowed back into Britain and other places and at great expence for the security services to keep track on them. It is not a crime to leave a country and go to another to fight for nutterdom.

"It is not a crime to leave a country and go to another to fight for nutterdom."

True, race Socialists and class Socialists flocked to Spain to kill each other before WW2, without sanction.

Shame we couldn't have kept that going for longer than 3 years. Would have been a shame for the Spanish, but might have saved the rest of us a lot of hassle.

Hitler and Stalin were unlikely to fall for an all consuming distraction from the main task of attacking us, but the Sunni and Shia nutters appear to be up for it.

An opportunity not worth missing. Let's hope the Syrian Civil War lasts 3 generations, not 3 years.

SoD

Oh I'm an idiot!

Of course race-Socialism and class-Socialism did fall for the distraction of fighting each other - the Ostfront!

Imagine if after the joint invasion of Poland by Hitler and Stalin, we'd had to fight our way back into Europe without the two of them fighting each other? 15 divisions in Normandy and 200 on the Ostfront, wasn't it? Now there's 1 Tali or al Qaeda in Afghanistan for every 10 in Syria.

Praise be upon him.

SoD

I sometimes think, SoD, that you're getting a tad cynical in your old age!

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