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Human shields

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Eugene Posted: Thu, Feb 9 2012 3:32 PM

Even today human shields are used quite a lot in warfare despite the fact that modern states usually have no problems killing innocent people. I can imagine that in a free society any kind of aggression against libertarians will include the massive use of human shields. After all libertarians won't break NAP. 

Do you think it is even possible to defend yourself against such tactics? 

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Please elaborate on all of this first. I think it's too vague.

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MaikU replied on Thu, Feb 9 2012 4:03 PM

I lold'. Eugene quit using crack. Seriously :D

"Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted!" - Evilsceptic

(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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Eugene replied on Thu, Feb 9 2012 4:21 PM

What is unclear about what I said?

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These two statements strike me as unclear:

"Even today human shields are used quite a lot in warfare despite the fact that modern states usually have no problems killing innocent people."

"I can imagine that in a free society any kind of aggression against libertarians will include the massive use of human shields."

Please clarify if you'd like an actual response from me.

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I think police nowadays are fairly good at not taking out hostages...

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Eugene replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 1:14 AM

Wheylous, the police outnumbers the criminal 100000 to 1. But when you have two groups of people fighting that's not the case, and the group which uses the dirtiest tricks has serious advantage.

You can look at Israel's fight against Hamas. Hamas use human shields all the time, and Israel has to spend twice as many resources because of that in order to avoid civilian causalities. Yet the number of civilian causalities is still huge. Imagine what would happen in a libertarian society in which NAP will be held to a much higher standard that it is held today by modern armies.

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Marko replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 4:11 AM

But when you have two groups of people fighting that's not the case, and the group which uses the dirtiest tricks has serious advantage.

One dirty trick being claiming the enemy is using civilians as human shields so as to deflect responsibility for killing them.

It is interesting the problem of human shields seems to only ever be brought up by the side in the war which is non-local to the place of battle. So to take such acusations seriously we must believe these non-local combatants care more about the local enemy civilians than their local defenders. How likely is that to be the truth? If the military power of the two sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were exactly the reverse, would the IDF be very likely to use Israeli civilians to hamper Hamas? Obviously not. First of all the former would have difficulty to bring itself to do it and secondly it wold know the latter would not be deterred by it anyway.

There are a few cases I know of where I'm certain there was such a thing as human shields, but in all these these were voluntary human shields. In such case they represent a form of non-violent resistance.

The only other type of actions where civilians' well-being is made hostage to the actions of the enemy side I know for a fact took place are collective reprisals. WWII Germans in occupied East Europe collected hostages among civilians then shot them if their forces came under attack by partisans. Americans in Iraq switched off electricity and water to towns where resistance was especially strong. These type of use of "human shields" is widespread (and sometimes effective), but it is practiced by the side in the conflict which is non-local to the site of conflict and which can therefore be expected to care less about the local civilian populace than the local belligerents who arose from this population.

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Eugene replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 8:30 AM

Marko, fine, let it be the latter case, the question remains the same. Can libertrians win people who use such tactics?

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Southern replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 8:33 AM

Those are some interesting points you have brought up Marko.  But why does it matter who is local and who is foreign?  What matters is who is a combatant and who is not.  There are noncombatants mixed in every theater of war.  People who are not participating and dont want to participate in the fighting.  They are threatened and bullied by both sides, when all they want is to get up in the morning and feed thier families.  In a fight between two states these people are not an issue.  They are simply lumped into what ever group they need to be in order to justify the use of force against them. them.

But in a world where you have one side who does not live by the NAP and the other bound by it, this creates a very real problem.  It is very likely that not everyone in a specific geographic region will be a member of a defense agency.  If conflict erupts between the members of the private defense company and another group that dosent adhere to the NAP, then how does the private defense company defend its clients without violating the rights of those who just want to be left alone that are mixed throughout the fighting?  In war as we know it, impossible.

But maybe that is the answer.  War as we know wont exist.  But Im not sure why it would change.

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Marko replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 10:43 AM

What matters is who is a combatant and who is not.  There are noncombatants mixed in every theater of war.  People who are not participating and dont want to participate in the fighting.  They are threatened and bullied by both sides, when all they want is to get up in the morning and feed thier families.  In a fight between two states these people are not an issue.  They are simply lumped into what ever group they need to be in order to justify the use of force against them. them.

You're right, but this is a seperate issue I think. I'm just saying as a rule of thumb I don't believe the claims of occupiers/invaders/bombardiers when they essentially make what is the claim they care more about the people whose country they are occupying/invading/bombing than the combatants opposing them. I believe the average Taleban commander cares a lot more about the lives of Afghan civilians (seeing he used to be one and is probably married to one) than the average US colonel.

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Marko replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 11:06 AM

Marko, fine, let it be the latter case, the question remains the same. Can libertrians win people who use such tactics?

I'm glad you asked. Yes, libertarians can win in such circumstances. 
 
Fighting an invader/occupier though this will result in the occupier/invader unleashing collective reprisals against non-combatants is not an act of aggression. Aggression is purely on the side of the party initiating the reprisals. Libertarians then do not have their hands tied down any more than anyone else would. 
 
Now it is the case many could, based on their values judgment, nonetheless choose not to fight for reasons of compassion and even decide to ostracize those who do. It could be that this would mean that in the end so few would continue to fight that the free society would now be conquered. But it is important to understand that this is not a deficiency of a free society, it is its purpose. 
 
It would not be an improvement if a state were imposed over a particularly compassionate free society to force it to resist despite collective reprisals. If these people, in the face of collective reprisals, lay down their arms, it then follows they prefer to be compassionate and to have more of their civilians around alive than to be unconquered. It would be wrong to force them to stay unconquered, but see so many of their people dead, when their preference is for the opposite.

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Southern replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 12:28 PM

but this is a seperate issue I think.

Fair enough.

the average Taleban commander cares a lot more about the lives of Afghan civilians (seeing he used to be one and is probably married to one) than the average US colonel.

I would have to agree.

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