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Subject: Why are civilians targeted?
debugger    5/11/2004 12:50:57 AM
Over the last few decades we have seen an increase in the targeting of civilians over military personnel. Why? And what can we learn from history on this subject?
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Vulture    RE:Why are civilians targeted? info?   5/11/2004 9:55:43 AM
Care to be more specific Debugger?
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Andrea    RE:Why are civilians targeted?   5/11/2004 11:38:28 AM
Ïndeed be more specific, debugger. Do you mean attacks against civilians by radical muslims or attacks on civilians be the USA army ???
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FJV    Because it has been proven effective in getting what you want.   5/11/2004 1:04:03 PM
Basically the title says it all. Compare the Palestinian/Israeli situation to the situation in Congo/Zaire. Comparing the casualties the Congo/Zaire situation is a far greater tragedy, yet the Palestinians get all the media attention and more money. Why?, because the Palestinians chose to hyjack European/American airplanes. All this media attention these hyjackings generated gave the Palestinians the possibility to put propaganda out on the news through front organistions which generated political and monetary support. And that's just one example.
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mudshark    RE:Why are civilians targeted?    5/11/2004 1:04:28 PM
LAST FEW DACADES Rotterdam, Holland May 1940, 30,000 people killed in an effort by the Nazis to bomb the Dutch population into submission. London Blitz, lasting from September 1940 to May 1941, in which over 20,000 civilians were killed Firebombing of Dresden on 13-14 February 1945. At least 150,000 civilians killed. The next quote is upsetting well it is if for me so don’t read it if you’re a bit sensitive “The fire storm transformed thousands of individual blazes into a sea of flames, ripping off the roofs, tossing trees, cars and lorries into the air, and simultaneously sucking the oxygen out of the air-raid shelters. ”Most of those who remained below ground were to die painlessly, their bodies first brilliantly tinted bright orange and blue, and then, as the heat grew intense, either totally incinerated or melted into a thick liquid sometimes three or four feet deep.” –R.H.S. Crossman, “Apocalypse at Dresden,” Esquire, November 1963 Mickey Z. has an equally grisly account: “Seventy percent of the Dresden dead either suffocated or died from poison gases that turned their bodies green and red. The intense heat melted some bodies into the pavement like bubblegum, or shrunk them into three-foot long charred carcasses. Clean-up crews wore rubber boots to wade through the ‘human soup’ found in nearby caves. In other cases, the superheated air propelled victims skyward only to come down in tiny pieces as far as fifteen miles outside Dresden.” Both the British and the Americans, who between them slaughtered an estimated 635,000 German civilians Two nukes on Japan when they had already started piece talks. It put the wind up the Russians and stop them in there tracks.wich like it or not might jest have saved the free world. So last few decades, its been a bit longer than that. It has not increased its gone down. if the coalition wanted to they could level Iraq, leaving nothing but oil and a few charred buildings. The eyes of the world are on this war the technology to communicate is unprecedented. the coalition has to tread carefully if it don’t want to lose the war back home like it did in Vietnam. Why? And what can we learn from history on this subject Why?......... I am sorry to say because it works What can we learn? …………That for terrorists and governments alike blowing up civilians works Don’t think I say this lightly to me the innocents that have been killed in Iraq Are every bit as heart braking as the innocents killed in 9/11. But to make an omelet you have to break eggs.
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FJV    Some nuances   5/11/2004 3:11:43 PM
Succesfull and unsuccesful examples are cited: Rotterdam was succesfull in furthering the Dutch surrender. London Blitz was unsuccesfull in breaking the British morale. The strategic bombing against Germany didn't cause the collapse of the Greman war production in fact figures show that the Germans increased their production during this campaign. Dresden ???? some are still trying to figure out what this achieved. Nukes succesful on Japan, also succesful in restraining the USSR and US as well. Though targetting civilians has been proven to work in the past, succes is by no means guaranteed. And results might cause the opposite of what you're trying to achieve.
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TriggaFingaz    So many different reasons   5/11/2004 5:18:09 PM
In World War 2, mass strategic bombing of cities was a facet of total war strategy. Also, the technological level of bomb aiming was too limited, so you needed entire fleets of heavies to strike a factory in the middle of a city. From time immemorial non-comabatants have born the brunt of wartime fighters. The first cavemen clubbed women to drag off as wives right? As for deliberate attacks by AQ and the Islamo-fascists, that's becoz a market place is easier to blow apart than a base watched by wary guard towers. Also, AQ and its friends want to depopulate the planet of 'infidels' and any Muslim who gets in the way of their plans.
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evlstu    RE:Why are civilians targeted?   5/11/2004 11:37:58 PM
Why??? Three reasons: 1)There are are political, social, and/or religeous philosophies out there that justify (despite how sick it may seem to us), and in some cases encourage, attacking noncombatants; 2)Terrorists are by and large cowards - they don't do well when someone shoots back; 3)According to militants Islam there is no such thing as a "civilian or noncombatant."
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debugger    A new theory   5/17/2004 7:25:34 PM
Perhaps I shouldn't of launched this topic right before my busyweek at the office. Thank you for your patience. Interesting replies. Almost everyone said that it, the targeting of civilians, "works." Ok, but why does it work? This wasn't allways the case. I was hoping someone could refer me to an old article I saw, perhaps on this site, that showed the ratio of civilian deaths vs military has been going up over the decades. There was a time, it seems to me, that the targeting of civilians was ussually regarded as counterproductive, even by ruthless groups. It that's true then what has changed? I see several possible answers and I'm hoping we sort it through. Here are my candidate theories: 1) Retaliation. In past conflicts, occupiers often had reprisials against populations. The Union forces didn't burn Atlanta until it became clear the south was unable to invade again. There have been fewer occupier reprisials in Iraq than in other conflicts, but the data is not conclusive for me. Of course at this time we are only talking about stategy, not ethics 2) Perception of winning. Perhaps the killing of civilians only works because there is a perception that the US will quit the war? Without the perception it wouldn't even be happening. 3) Economics. If you are at war with a highly taxing government, then thier weakness is in losing the productive end of the economy, the cash producing end rather than the consuming end of it. I hope my irregular posting won't hurt this topic... debugger
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SGTObvious    I thought Debugger was quite clear, Andrea.   5/17/2004 8:26:14 PM
He did use the word "targetted". As in, "aimed at, with the intention of hitting". Get it?
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jastayme3    RE:A new theory   10/30/2004 12:05:13 AM
The ratio of civilians to military hasn't gone up. It has simply gone down in Europe-North America in the eighteenth ninteenth century. Until recently most armies lived by plunder, and spread plague whereever they went. It was simply reduced for a short time because their was a tacit agreement that the foolishness of princes was to silly a thing to ruin sensible peoples lifes over. No one has recorded the civilian casualties of such infamous brawls as the Thirty Years War or the Pelopenisian War, or the normal casualty count of medieval wars. Absolute casualty counts are deceitful. They reflect the resources available rather than any actual change. Thus World War I would have had the same casualties with muskets if the same number of people are involved: changes in weapons technology affect the final decision of battle more than the butchers bill. And they only affect the decision if there is asymetry. If both sides have the same technology and both have a roughly equal tactical theory then the proportion of casualties will not change. As for civilian casualties the same applies. The number of civilians killed depends a lot simply on the ammount of stuff flying around, the number of starving, lecherous and ill-trained soldiers in a given province, or whatever. For a while big league millitary technology tended toward tremendous firepower in volume, and little accuracy. That of course meant an increase in collateral. However the trend among the big-leaguers is turning how toward accuracy. In the meantime minor wars continues with the neverending trickle of slaughter they always have. There civilian casualties come from the same source they always have. Plunder, plague, famine and the general disruption that comes from destroying the local law and making a massive increase in the local population at the same time. The "soldiers" plunder the peasantry. The peasants in turn either endure, form vigilante groups(which often evolve into warlord gangs themselves) or become bandits. And so the miserable mess continues. Just like Seven Samurai, except it doesn't very often have such a happy ending. The increase in civilian casualties comes from the increase in the number of civilians, and the number of people who are killing them. But it is the same phenomenon and it is working in the same manner. Also there is more attempt made today to keep track of the number of casualties. Before no one bothered as much. One thing that is true is that the advance in logistic technology has allowed war to spread over far larger territories than it did before. Some wars today which would have been considered milestones in history in ancient times are considered "boys will be boys" today. No one will ever remember the recent Balkan war 100 years hence, but it covered at least as great a geographical area and probably had at least as much casualties as the Peloponisian war. Of course that brings in another factor: the press factor. There was no Theycidese(how do you spell that? No matter)in Kossovo. In summery our vision is both incomplete and skewed.
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