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View Full Version : Capability vs. Morale



Rocky
02-28-2003, 04:17 PM
Seems to be an ongoing debate over whether in warfare you try to demoralize the enemy into surrendering, or retard his ability to make war by targeting his weapons, infrastructure, etc. It's true foes have surrendered with their warmaking capabilites intact, like Japan in 1945, but the position seems to depend on the viewpoint. Bomber Harris originally thought the carpetbombing of Germany would reduce their fighting ability, but when it became obvious that wasn't happening he changed his objective to their "will to fight". But as the British demonstrated in 1940 and the N. Vietnamese in the 60s and 70s, civilian bombing just hardened their resolve. In Vietnam we made little effort to attack weapons depots in Haiphong, yet made great efforts to go after those same weapons when they were scattered along the Ho Chi Minh trail. In the Gulf War we targeted their weapons systems almost exclusively, and it seemed to work, although Saddam told Dan Rather he lost only about 10% of his fighting systems.

So what are we going to do this time? If all we really want is to remove Saddam, give the job to Mossad - he'll be dead in a week! That's why I distrust Bush, I think he has some other agenda - or his handlers do. What did he say about Iraq during the campaign?

[ 02-28-2003, 04:51 PM: Message edited by: Rocky ]

JimD
02-28-2003, 04:50 PM
Mossad might get the job done but assasinating foreign leaders is supposed to be against US law. Also, simply killing Saddam wouldn't necesarily give the US the direct ability to strongly influence a post Saddam Iraq and reorganize the country's political and economic institutions.

I doubt Bush would have to be the new Bomber Harris to demoralize the Iraqi people. I have a hunch they are demoralized enough under Saddam and most of them will just keep their heads low until the shooting stops and make the best of the new Iraq as it unfolds. Bush will do everything he can to avoid a war on civilians.

Ian McColgin
02-28-2003, 04:50 PM
Rocky, I think you're right for a number of reasons. Indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets do not generally do more than enrage the citizens with the injustice of it all and in reality civilian casualties do not help anyone win a war anyway. (Always excepting tribal warfare at one end and whole hearted genocide at the other.)

Much as I hate to say it, there is much to be said for the Marines approach to aviation - make the pilots serve on the ground a bit as well. Helps them get an idea as to what actually does any good.

swamp_yankee
02-28-2003, 04:52 PM
Originally posted by Rocky:
Seems to be an ongoing debate over whether in warfare you try to demoralize the enemy into surrendering, or retard his ability to make war by targeting his weapons, infrastructure, etc. It's true foes have surrendered with their warmaking capabilites intact, like Japan in 1945, but the position seems to depend on the viewpoint. Bomber Harris originally thought the carpetbombing of Germany would reduce their fighting ability, but when it became obvious that wasn't happening he changed his objective to their "will to fight". But as the British demonstrated in 1940 and the N. Vietnamese in the 60s and 70s, civilian bombing just hardened their resolve. In Vietnam we made little effort to attack weapons depots in Haiphong, yet made great efforts to go after those same weapons when they were scattered along the Ho Chi Minh trail. In the Gulf War we targeted their weapons systems almost exclusively, and it seemed to work, although Saddam told Dan Rather he lost only about 10% of his fighting systems.

So what are we going to do this time? If all we really want is to remove Saddam, give the job to Mossad - he'll be dead in a week! That's why I distrust Bush, I think he has some other agenda.Well, Rocky, IMO opinion both 'Bomber Harris' (the architect of the Dresden Firebombing, I believe) and our old friend Hank Kissinger (Christmas Bombing) are war criminals. I don't buy the whole argument in Hitchen's book - I think he made the case that Kissinger was an evil bastard well, but the only place I think he made the case for a war criminal was his analogy between the christmas bombing and the Japanes bombing of known civilian targets with no military importance

Briefly, knowingly committing mass murder of civilians coupled with a knowledge of no military significance - even if it's believed that it will have an effect on 'enemy morale' - is a war crime.

Rocky
02-28-2003, 04:54 PM
I wish I agreed with you, Jim. I guess we'll see.

Meerkat
02-28-2003, 06:32 PM
Carter signed an EO banning asassination attempts on foreign leaders. Dubya rescinded it. AFAIK, it's never been US law (the constitution does not support any presidential power to issue decrees with the force of law, although there is (at least) one USSC modification/decision that supports it).

JimD
03-01-2003, 12:10 PM
Originally posted by Meerkat:
Carter signed an EO banning asassination attempts on foreign leaders. Dubya rescinded it. AFAIK, it's never been US law (the constitution does not support any presidential power to issue decrees with the force of law, although there is (at least) one USSC modification/decision that supports it).Thanks for the clarification, Meerkat...and it appears Bush has finally made it absolutely clear he won't be satisfied with Iraqi dissarmament, Saddam has to go. I'm glad he finally got around to dropping the pointless ruse of weapons inspectors trapsing around the desert peaking under rocks for WMD.

Rocky
03-01-2003, 02:10 PM
That certainly makes Dresden a war crime.

According to the New Yorker Bush strongly implied in the State of the Union speech that there were hit squads operating in Afghanistan and the Middle East.