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Wars in which innocents were spared

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Eugene Posted: Thu, Nov 22 2012 1:01 PM

Can you give an example of a war or at least a battle somewhere where innocent people were spared? Its hard for me to pursuade people that it is possible to kill only the aggressors. They constantly point out to me that wars always included massive collateral damage and killings of civilians. Is there at least one example where this was not the case?

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 1:11 PM

You're not going to find a single example that's not of a very small conflict. Some civilians are going to die in any sizeable war.

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I'm confused by this idea of "civilians." After all, aren't the people who are drafted into the military just civilians too? Even the ones who enter into the military voluntarily are "civilians." This is where it gets complicated for me - where do you draw the line between who is a "civilian" and the state itself?

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Eugene replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 1:22 PM

Civilians are those who do not threaten or harm others with guns. Whether you were drafted or chose voluntarily to do so doesn't matter.

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I see.

Then no, in any war, large or small, peaceful people have always been spat on. I don't think you could ever find a war where a peaceful person wasn't affected negatively psychologically or physically.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 1:48 PM

I don't know what they base it on, but Hoppe, Rothbard et. al. have claimed that, in Medieval Europe, most warring affected commoners very little both in terms of property destruction and in terms of "collateral damage." Can't remember the cites right now, either, sorry.

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Eugene replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 1:51 PM

It makes sense, you can't do much collateral damage with a sword. But a medieval army can't stand up to a modern army either.

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Wheylous replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 3:18 PM

Read Anatomy of the State. You will find it very interesting in regard to inter-state war.

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 3:55 PM

"It makes sense, you can't do much collateral damage with a sword."

This is somewhat irrelevant in terms of mounting up civilian casualties. There were plenty of wars with massive civilian casualitiees pre-gunpowder, things like the Third Punic War being the best examples. The Hundred Years war wiped out a third of the population of the germanic areas and gunpowder was prettymuch only used against castles.

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Clayton replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 9:48 PM

you can't do much collateral damage with a sword

Utter rubbish. History is littered with massacres committed with nothing more than swords.

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Eugene replied on Thu, Nov 22 2012 11:44 PM

That's not collateral damage though, its intented killing.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 1:20 AM

@Eugene: The vast majority of what modern militaries label "collateral damage" is, in fact, intended killing. And "unintended" killing still occurred prior to the era of HE bombs - ever heard of fire?

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Eugene replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 2:53 AM

Actually most of it is not intended. U.S doesn't intent to kill children with drones, it does so because it is convenient to use drones to attack militants (it doesn't endanger your troops). Israel doesn't intent to kill Palestinian women and children, but it prefers to use F16 airplanes for attacks because it doesn't endanger Israeli troops.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 3:22 AM

Actually most of it is not intended. U.S doesn't intent to kill children with drones, it does so because it is convenient to use drones to attack militants (it doesn't endanger your troops). Israel doesn't intent to kill Palestinian women and children, but it prefers to use F16 airplanes for attacks because it doesn't endanger Israeli troops.

Intentional killing of innocents is knowing that your actions will result in the death of innocents and choosing to go forward anyway. According to the US military's own numbers on collateral damage, they must engage in both strategic and tactical killing of innocents, even though the reports are filed in such a way as to claim that "oops, we didn't realize". How convenient that they never realize beforehand that there are innocents present, whether at wedding parties or mosques or open markets or residential homes in the middle of the night.

The Israeli and US governments are both prolific, knowing killers of innocents. Watch the following, bone-chilling footage:

If soldiers didn't know beforehand that they would be killing innocents, then why bother carrying these?

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Eugene replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 3:24 AM

Obviously they know. The point is that unlike medieval warfare, in modern warfare there are many powerful weapons that create "collateral damage". Those who don't use these weapons are theoretically in a disadvantage. In medeival times that was not the case.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 3:37 AM

Eugene, "collateral damage" is an offensive euphemism, like "honor killing". Weapons do not create "collateral damage", people do. You are correct that HE weapons are very indiscriminate which means that their use frequently entails aggression against innocent lives, whereas swords or rifles are much more discriminate. But the "intentions" of the bomber are irrelevant to the libertarian analysis. Rothbard uses the illustration in EoL of a man who fires a bullet in self-defense that ricochets and hits an innocent bystander. In Rothbardian theory, the man who fired the bullet is liable for the damage he caused, even if he was intending to do something justifiable (stop an aggressor). So, the bomber who truly intends only to kill aggressors* and drops a bomb that kills innocents is still liable.

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*even this is problematic... how can someone 30,000 feet below you be aggressing against you?

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Eugene replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 3:44 AM

I think the difference between "collateral damage" and intended killing in a free society would be the difference between criminal negligence or homicide and premeditated murder. Obviously there is a liability.

Regardless, it would really be great if we had at least one example of a major battle which was won in modern times where innocent lives were spared. It would have really helped me to convince my Israeli libertarian friends that there are other much more humane ways to defend against rockets fire.

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Eugene replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 3:47 AM

A "libertarian army" could use only discriminate weapons. This significantly limits the types of weapons available for this army and theoretically puts the libertarian army in disadvantage comparing to typical modern armies.

I personally believe that it is actually an advantage, because you are much more likely to create friends and reduce the number of your enemies by being 100% discriminate. However technically you are seriously limited.

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Marko replied on Fri, Nov 23 2012 1:00 PM

You had plenty of "collateral damage" in the Middle Ages, in fact up to including Napoleon's invasion of Russia, in the form of requisitioning. Armies did not enough supplies of their own but "lived off the land" which is to say looted settlements they passed by. Frequently what followed in the wake of such an army was hunger and disease.

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Eugene replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 2:49 PM

That's a good point. There were powerful warfare methods and practices that supposedly gave advantage to the those who were cruel enough to use them. But in practice such methods weren't used in most cases. For example it might have been tactically useful to burn a city to the ground to crash all resistence, but it was relatively rarely done in ancient times, I assume both because it would have created too much hatred (which could seriously backfire and frighten allies), and it would have been a financial loss for the conqueror as well.

Nevertheless you can't say with certainty that peaceful methods always worked better than brutal methods. That would probably be an oversimplication.

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Anenome replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 3:00 PM
 
 

Eugene:

A "libertarian army" could use only discriminate weapons. This significantly limits the types of weapons available for this army and theoretically puts the libertarian army in disadvantage comparing to typical modern armies.

I personally believe that it is actually an advantage, because you are much more likely to create friends and reduce the number of your enemies by being 100% discriminate. However technically you are seriously limited.

I agree. A libertarian army is likely to prefer weapons that severely limt or eliminate collateral damage.

This is one reason why a libertarian society is unlikely to produce, much less use, nuclear bombs, which from the standpoint of the NAP are the greatest possible evil, constituting the maximum number of aggressions per second via collateral damage to innocents.

Tactical nukes might be a different story however, those can be limited to field of battle with perhaps only a few kilotons going off.

A libertarian army might greatly prefer lasers as weapons, for these truly can be well limited. You could take out one aggressor in a crowd with a laser, from the air, and be assured a kill while also having high likelihood of harming no one else in the process. By such means terrorist bombers, for instance, could be eliminated, even while trying to use human shield.

I think the American military drive towards decreasing collateral damage is a positive one, but clearly there's a ways to go. Ancient armies simply didn't give a damn. We've progressed as a society a bit in that regard, but clearly not enough.

 

 
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Marko replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 3:06 PM

You don't understand, armies fed themselves by looting. When Alexander was in the Indus valley do you think he had people going back and forth between Macedon and Indus bringing him food? He took the food for his army from the locals.

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Eugene replied on Sat, Nov 24 2012 3:18 PM

Yes Marko I understood you perfectly and I said its a good point. However I also added that there were other cruel methods that were not necessarily used because of the expected blowback.

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