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Are New Technologies Undermining the Laws of War? 317

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-wait-until-mars-riots dept.
Lasrick writes "This is a great read — from the article: 'Today, emerging military technologies — including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war, particularly those relating to the primacy of the state and the geographic bounds of warfare. But the laws of war have been developed over a long period, with commentary and input from many cultures. What would seem appropriate in this age of extraordinary technological change, the author concludes, is a reconsideration of the laws of war in a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives.'"
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Are New Technologies Undermining the Laws of War?

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  • by x0ra (1249540) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:05AM (#45885887)
    "All is fair in love and war"
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:16AM (#45885933)

      If your lovemaking includes unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots and cyber weapons... You're probably doing it very right and should do online tutorials.

      • by turp182 (1020263)

        And this is why American society is so against sex/boobs in movies and such. When you combine sex with a very common social thread, war (War on INSERT_TERM_HERE, or on other countries, we're always at war here or there), you end up with some very bad comedy.

        In America, sex happens behind closed doors, opening the doors is offensive and prohibited. But we do see war and terror almost constantly, it seems to be what we do best (we certainly spend a lot on it, we better be good at it; and is conflict not a r

        • by operagost (62405)

          In America, sex happens behind closed doors, opening the doors is offensive and prohibited.

          And sex happens in the streets in Europe? Sign me up!

    • Also, (Score:3, Insightful)

      Those barbarians with the bows & arrows are completely dishonorable, unmanly, and don't know how to fight with coura--UGHH! [thump]
      • Re:Also, (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:34AM (#45885987) Journal

        Yes history repeats itself. I come back to the only justifiable war is one where you are willing to do what is required to win. If the issue is important enough to engage in massive property destructions and to kill or maim people, than it should never be done in vain, an obligation exists to see it thru and secure the intended outcome. "What is required" May vary if you posses an outsized military advantage you have the luxury not using certain forms of brutality and less des descriminating targeting practice and you should so long as it does not jepordise victory. If you are disadvantaged than asymmetric and "terror" tactics are probably a must.

        Societies not just soldiers go to war. It does not matter if you have a gun in hand or a garden hoe you are supporting the war fighting capability and so be considered a target if need be.

        • Re:Also, (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Adam Colley (3026155) <mog@@@kupo...be> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:57AM (#45886273)

          There are no justifiable wars.

          What we have now are invasions of sovereign nations which happen to be chock full of resources and blind eyes turned to genocide elsewhere.

          Iraq and Afghanistan are about to fall to the taliban (mission accomplished claims notwithstanding) so after more than ten years, trillions of pounds and millions of lives lost (yes, brown people count) we have precisely nothing to show for it.

          Iraq was working better under Saddam than it is now, it's a joke (or would be if it hadn't cost so many lives)

          How about we start putting our trillions into solving problems at home instead of attacking people elsewhere and let other nations govern themselves.

          I'll leave you with this well known Einstein quote:

          “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

          • Re:Also, (Score:4, Informative)

            by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:32AM (#45886401)

            There are no justifiable wars.

            The US Civil War?

            World War II?

            Two of the most obvious examples of a justifiable war. There are others.

            • Re:Also, (Score:5, Insightful)

              by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:29AM (#45886673)

              The US Civil War? The South seceded from the North because their American Dream was based on States' Rights. Especially the right of States to ensure legal slavery. It wasn't like the North declared a jihad on the morally-bankrupt South. The two regions had been negotiating on the issue for decades. But when the South split, the more fundamental issue of whether it was the United States of America or the United States of America took over. Whether that justified a full-scale war or not is debatable.

              World War II? Hitler was the one that "justified" that war. But the responsibility of putting that monster in power is in large part laid to blame to the powers that ended WWI. If they hadn't been so blindly determined to punish Germany and so uncaring of the consequences, Hitler would not have been able to gain the power he did.

              In both cases, the "justifications" came after the fact, and had people spent more effort beforehand, it's unlikely that war would have happened. At least in Germany. In the USA, as mentioned, a lot of effort was expended, but they decided war was "justified" anyway.

              Traditionally, the "laws" of war exempted civilians. That's because in older times, states were non-democratic, the people had little say in the decision, and in many cases, the goal was to annex territory, so it wasn't good policy to alienate or exterminate people who would - if you won - become your newest citizens.

              The WTC incident (to take one example) was "justified" in that the USA, being an (alleged) democracy, had the implicit approval of the majority of the American people on the policies to which Al-Qaeda objected. Where their justification fails is that "majority" isn't totality and that in fact, there was a virtual certainty that not only were some of the victims willing to vote in the other direction, but that there was no "keep out" sign on the building that excluded Moslems. Many of which were likely to be more observant than the terrorists themselves, as the hijackers weren't exactly role models for the faith, even excluding their willingness to commit murder.

              There are "Laws of War" in constructs such as the Geneva Conventions, but there are also "Rules of War", which are the precepts from which the Laws of War are constructed. They include minimizing the destruction to the goals at hand, sparing the innocent, treating captured enemies according to the same standards as you would wish for your own forces, and so forth. Those rules have remained largely invariant despite the ever-increasing ability over history to remove the opposing forces from direct physical and emotional contact with each other.

              • by CastrTroy (595695)
                As far as WWII goes, it's like the old saying, hindsight is 20/20. Sure there were decisions that were made, both by foreign government after WWI and by individual citizens in Germany that lead to the Nazi uprising. But once the Nazis got to a point of power, there wasn't any option other than war to stop them.
            • Did WWII came because Hitler came to power, or did Hitler came to power to wage WWII? I'd really wanted to know if those internet rumors about western financial backing of both USSR and Nazis are true, if they are WWII is a different kind civil war to shape up the not so pleasant society we seem headed to.

            • by MrL0G1C (867445)

              Hitler started WWII, are you saying he was justified?

          • Re:Also, (Score:4, Insightful)

            by PseudonymousBlowhard (1319965) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:41AM (#45886433)
            Was Kuwait working better under Saddam? Is Afghanistan falling to the Taliban really a case of letting "other nations govern themselves"? The problem with this kind of unconditional pacifism is that it requires everyone else to be a pacifist as well.
            • by MrL0G1C (867445)

              Saddam was apparently lead to believe he could attack Kuwait without consequence, it could have been stopped before it started.

              There was no good reason for US to enter Afghanistan, the whole exercise was completely futile, US is mostly leaving now with more Afgans hating America more than ever.

              US goes to war to keep the corporate military machine going, if America stopped going to war it's economy would take a dive.

          • Re:Also, (Score:4, Insightful)

            by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:32AM (#45886703)
            There are no justifiable wars.

            Sometimes, "war" is thrust upon you. The obvious classic example is WWII.
            The French/Belgians/Poles/Russians did not ask to be invaded. The Brits did not ask to be bombed.

            Sometimes, your choices are reduced to only two.
            1. Surrender and die
            or
            2. Fight back.
            There is no #3. Wait, there was a #3, which Chamberlain tried first. Didn't work. So that leaves fight back or die.
          • by DSElliot (3445351)
            Well, seeing as that your domain suffix is .be and you wrote that statement in English instead of German, I would say that there are certainly some justifiable wars.
          • by Firethorn (177587)

            There are no justifiable wars.

            There may be no justifiable wars right now, but there have been in the past. For that matter I think that Iraq and Afghanistan are more complicated than you potray them. If we truly did it just for the resources we would have simply made a deal with Saddam and treated Afghanistan much differently.

            As for the Einstein quote - remember that he helped convince the USA to develop nuclear weapons with the fear that Germany would develop them first. So obviously either his beliefs changed or his views more nuan

          • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:56AM (#45886859) Homepage

            From a Marine Major General: http://warisaracket.org/racket.html [warisaracket.org] "Smedley Butler: War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."

            At length: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html [ratical.org]

            Another quote by Einstein: "The release of atomic power has changed everything except our way of thinking ... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker. (1945)"

            See also this essay by me on how that applies to all forms of modern weaponry, inspired by that Einstein quote, given a modern-day digital watch has more computing power than was used to design the first atomic weapons:
            http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
            ----
            Military robots like drones are ironic because they are created essentially to force humans to work like robots in an industrialized social order. Why not just create industrial robots to do the work instead?
            Nuclear weapons are ironic because they are about using space age systems to fight over oil and land. Why not just use advanced materials as found in nuclear missiles to make renewable energy sources (like windmills or solar panels) to replace oil, or why not use rocketry to move into space by building space habitats for more land?
            Biological weapons like genetically-engineered plagues are ironic because they are about using advanced life-altering biotechnology to fight over which old-fashioned humans get to occupy the planet. Why not just use advanced biotech to let people pick their skin color, or to create living arkologies and agricultural abundance for everyone everywhere?
            These militaristic socio-economic ironies would be hilarious if they were not so deadly serious. Here is some dark humor I wrote on the topic:
            A post-scarcity "Downfall" parody remix of the bunker scene. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/openmanufacturing/8qspPyyS1tY/vZacyDL86DIJ [google.com]
            See also a little ironic story I wrote on trying to talk the USA out of collective suicide because it feels "Burdened by Bags of Sand". http://www.pdfernhout.net/burdened-by-bags-of-sand.html [pdfernhout.net]
            Or this YouTube video I put together: The Richest Man in the World: A parable about structural unemployment and a basic income. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p14bAe6AzhA [youtube.com]
            Likewise, even United States three-letter agencies like the NSA and the CIA, as well as their foreign counterparts, are becoming ironic institutions in many ways. Despite probably having more computing power per square foot than any other place in the world, they seem not to have thought much about the implications of all that computer power and organized information to transform the world into a place of abundance for all. Cheap computing makes possibl

          • by onyxruby (118189)

            People count on useful idiots like you. Stalin considered people like yourself to be critical for success. Tyrants and dictators depend on useful idiots to stand by and do nothing will they commit their atrocities.

            Iraq was working better under Saddam than it is now, it's a joke (or would be if it hadn't cost so many lives)

            So we should continue to leave countries under dictators that violate treaties, employ government rapists and kill their own citizens in large blocs because the country will run better? Te

          • by Dishevel (1105119)
            I love it when idiots speak. "There are no justifiable wars." Get a life, get an education, then get a woman. The reason that the Taliban are going to win is because we can no longer prosecute a war properly due to all the fucking pansies in our own country. The rules are now something like this. Don't hurt any civilians. Do not cause any collateral damage. Do not do anything that could be construed as not nice. Then and only then if you are still alive can you start to think about killing the enemy. The ru
            • Tell me why the Taliban are our 'enemy'?

            • by cusco (717999)

              Actually, no one ever wins in Afghanistan but the Afghans (a grouping of peoples which is about as nebulous as can be). No one has managed to hold that territory for more than a generation since Alexander the Great. Not the British, not the Moguls, not the Mongols, not the Kazakhs, not even the Persians. The utter stupidity of the Pentagon rarely amazes me any more, but when they agreed to take over Afghanistan I was totally flabbergasted. WTF were they even thinking?

          • There are no justifiable wars.

            I agree that wars are horrible, but to say that none are justifiable I think is false. Diplomacy is not perfect and does fail from time to time. Then what are we left with? The advancement of drones and "lethal robots"? Do we have a race to create the best T-800? T-1000?

            It's unfortunate that there can be such disagreement and both parties (read: leaders) feel so strongly and are incapable of compromise,that the only resolution is war. Even if both sides were to fight with only drones/robots and the winner

        • Re:Also, (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rioki (1328185) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:43AM (#45886443) Homepage

          Got news, the Geneva and Hague Convention only apply to regular military. So the moment you are either facing or are irregular combatants everything goes. But then you need to remember by who when the treaties where singed. At the time generals would send thousand men to their deaths and then congratulate each other over their victories over a cup of tee.

          Your assertions are correct and have lead to the impression of "clean" wars. But every war is dirty and bloody. I think each congressman and general should be required to send their brother, child or brother into the field in a war they authorize. If after that the war still seems like a good idea (e.g. destroying Nazi Germany*) then it worth fighting.

          (* I am part German and still think it was a necessary and good idea... in general)

          • Re:Also, (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Muad'Dave (255648) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:52AM (#45886485) Homepage

            There was a sci-fi book I once read (for the life of me I can't remember the title) that had an alien society where if their governing body declared war, they'd fight the battle, and then all members of the governing body that voted for the war were put to death. You had to believe so strongly that the war was just that you were willing to give your own life.

            I think that's a grand idea.

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          You know I agree with the basic premise, but it is also why I am so against war. The thing is it is "see it thru and secure the intended outcome." Intended outcome is the problem: war seldom is any good at securing an intended outcome.

          Look at Iraq. Was the "intended outcome" just to kill their dictator? Mission accomplished eh? That is a very shortsighted goal, and by any real measure, Iraqis were better off under their dictator. Just about anything you could look at and say "look how bad things are for the

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

      The TFA asks:


      Are New Technologies Undermining the Laws of War?

      You sez:

      "All is fair in love and war"

      Well, let's see

      Another adage puts it this way ...

      " To the victor goes the spoils "

      There is absolutely *NO* fairness in WAR.

      As for the "Laws of War", no matter if it came from Machiavelli or from Sun Zi, psy ops are as important as ever.

      No matter if it's MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) or killer drones, no matter if it's a symmetrical warfare or if it's asymmetrical (such as terrorism), human beings are _still_ human beings.

      For example: NSA is fighting a war against the citizens of the United States of America, and N

    • by msauve (701917)
      The first rule of Fight Club...
    • by Kjella (173770)

      You don't fight fair in life or death situations and war is the life and death of nations. Creating rules of war is like trying to settle conflicts with knuckle fights which can be mutually beneficial as both are less likely to end up dead or crippled, but either side can and will abandon them when it serves them. For example it's in the spirit of the conventions to shoot at other military personnel and leave civilians alone, while coming up with the wildest logic to defend the nuking of civilians in Hirosh

  • and use technology for accomplishing things like ending hunger.
    • by Tim12s (209786)

      I'm not sure Kim shares your sentiment...

      • Fair enough, perhaps then you would like to list the wars he has started lately?
        Or perhaps just listing the top 10 countries to start wars in the last 20 years would be a good start?

        Or is desperate sabre (even if its a wooden sword..) rattling somehow worse than actual killing of people?

        Its called perspective, and it is desperately needed.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      and use technology for accomplishing things like ending hunger.

      Hunger is not a problem, it's a consequence of inequality. Ending inequality shouldn't start with the difference between those who have 0% of the total and those who have 0.1% (the separation made by "hunger").

      You might consider advocating for the end of massive accumulation of riches. That way you'll tackle a difference of several tens%

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        and use technology for accomplishing things like ending hunger.

        Hunger is not a problem, it's a consequence of inequality. Ending inequality shouldn't start with the difference between those who have 0% of the total and those who have 0.1% (the separation made by "hunger").

        You might consider advocating for the end of massive accumulation of riches. That way you'll tackle a difference of several tens%

        Pragmatically speaking we should deal with the difference between those with 0% and 0.1% first. This is what feeding centres do in famine zones. You can look at inequalities later, but unless this acute need is dealt with people will die now!

        • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:45AM (#45886779) Homepage

          I spent some time volunteering in Africa, and I've seen the problems of hunger firsthand.

          There is enough food overall... not much excess, but often enough for everyone to survive. The problem is that, for example, the food is over on the fertile side of a mountain ridge, while the starving people are on the other side. The only pass is controlled by a local oppressor who charges high tolls to use "his" road, and he's able to bribe the government agents and local police into letting him stay.

          One option is to just keep paying the tolls, and those starving people keep starving... but it's easy, and offends nobody.

          Someone with wealth could pay the toll or use a different route, and bring ample food to support the locals, but then they're dependent on those gifts, and the oppressor could start using force to maintain his rule. The money used for support is also a drain on the provider's economy, so the future stability of such a supply is questionable.

          The reliance on the pass could be removed, but that means improving local production. It's a long process, at best, and requires a large start-up cost.

          Finally, we could just use force. Send in a squad of trained soldiers to forcibly allow traffic through the pass, even if that means killing the armed guards enforcing the tolls. Through overwhelming force, ensure that no replacements will be able to oppress traffic again.

          Of course, force is never easy. There's always the risk that the oppressor will fight back, or that a new oppressor will patiently wait until the squad leaves to take over again. There will be some locals who oppose the intrusion, especially since they have been told (often by the oppressor himself) that the greatest embarrassment they could have is to accept help from outsiders. There will also be those who don't understand the connection between the tolls, the food supply, and standard of living - they just think they're poor because God is punishing them (and the church's leaders don't understand well enough to change that, either).

          Going from that 0% to a sustained 0.1% is the hardest step, because it means removing the long-term limits that have already exhausted the local ability to provide for themselves. Once those barriers are gone and food is available at reasonable prices, going to 0.2% or higher is just a matter of doing the same thing more... move more trucks of tubers, make more salable products, and so forth. It's an upward spiral, but starting the process isn't easy.

          • in other words...(as Clausewitz so accurately said )...

            "war is politics by other means"

            everything you mention in you post has to do with the local politics of the area, not the economics or logistics.

            people in control want to get paid...and are willing to starve those they have control of to achieve that goal.

            trying to negotiate will have little to no effect, unless of course the negotiations quietly contain a hefty "aid" package of payola.

            this is why those commenting on this thread who say "war is never ju

  • Newer technology applied by one side in a conflict have cause important victories before throughout history. The ability to totally outclass an adversary is from a military point of view desirable. I did skim the linked article, one issue is that of proportionality, but still, those who win do not really care.
    • There are still multitudes of Vietnam era soldiers who will die swearing the proportionality used by America is the reason the war was lost.

      The U.S. nearly lost the taste for war after that debacle, and was relegated to Paper Tiger for a generation.

      The unbridled ability of humankind to forget any lesson, given enough time, is astonishing.

  • the geographic bounds of warfare

    Cambodia, Laos - and now these days Pakistan. The rule only applies if someone you really don't want to piss off is on the other side of the line.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Or before that, Belgium and the Netherlands. Or more recently, Syria and Lebanon and Turkey. It's not like wars stay neatly on one side of a border. And it's not always the US expanding them.

  • Ignorance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:17AM (#45885935) Homepage Journal

    Ignorance is undermining the laws of war, the laws of commerce, and every other law our society used to have. This is what happens when you allow the world to be run by frat-echnocrats in suits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your statement is correct. For example it is illegal under the rules of war to act in a battlefield and to not wear a uniform. If you are captured on a battlefield and you are not in uniform and you do not disclose your military ID data, (Name rank serial number) you are under the Geneva conventions a Spy and subject to summary execution. Every prisoner we took in Afghanistan and most in Iraq would have fit in this category. All Al Qaeda prisoners fit this category. Oh by the way, spies may be tortured

      • by Qzukk (229616)

        All Al Qaeda prisoners fit this category

        Except that Al Qaeda is not recognized as a State, so it's just some guy running around with a bomb strapped to his dick, not a spy. That's how we can bomb Pakistan without actually bombing Pakistan as an act of war.

        The laws do need updating to deal with the fact that rogue extremists are who we're fighting wars against now.

  • Arbitrary. (Score:2, Interesting)

    International laws? what? They only arose after the nuclear arms race and have never been abided by. There is only one justified cause for warfare and that's self defense, and even then it raises moral objections.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Um, no [wikipedia.org]. There have laws regarding armed conflict loooong before the nuclear age, and many have been abided by.
    • Re:Arbitrary. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sique (173459) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:05AM (#45886095) Homepage
      International laws have existed since we have the idea of nations. After the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, there was the Congress of Vienna (1814/15), which effectively created a codex of international law in Europe. Then we have the founding of the International Red Cross after the Battle of Solferino 1859, which in turn was recognized subsequently by all warwaging countries and led to the first treaty about the Geneva Convention in 1864. And even before, there were multisided agreements between different powers which could also be viewed as international law -- think about the flagging rules of battle ships, merchant ships and pirate ships during the Age of the European Expansion between the 15th and the 18th century.

      And yes, like every law, also international laws are often and constantly broken, and enforcing those laws is even more complicated than national law.

  • The technology is not undermining the established laws but the US use of the tech sure does. Using depleted uranium, murdering civilians based on shoddy intelligence, torturing people with new methods, social media puppetry, wholesale wiretapping etc is just things that have been avoided before but has been reintroduced when they could do it in new ways.

    The technology is not the problem at all, its the people using it.

    • by jeremyp (130771)

      murdering civilians based on shoddy intelligence, torturing people with new methods, social media puppetry, wholesale wiretapping etc is just things that have been avoided before but has been reintroduced when they could do it in new ways.

      The technology is not the problem at all, its the people using it.

      All of those things have always been a part of war, except the social media thing, but that is just an instance of propaganda.

      Civilians have always found themselves being murdered in war. For example, in Wellington's Peninsular campaign, there were several instances of cities being taken by force and then the army doing a bit of rape pillage and murder. This was done by both sides even though the British were ostensibly trying to liberate the locals.

      Then the invention of the bomber allowed civilian murde

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        re All of those things have always been a part of war, except the social media thing, but that is just an instance of propaganda.
        Yes think back to the black sites, double tap drone strikes, the surge..
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208307/Americas-deadly-double-tap-drone-attacks-killing-49-people-known-terrorist-Pakistan.html [dailymail.co.uk]
        Really its just back to the old colonial wars under a new brand and better spin via happy 24/7 media sock puppets.
      • by jmac_the_man (1612215) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:22AM (#45886365)

        Then the invention of the bomber allowed civilian murder to be taken to new extremes in WW2. The British bombing campaign was particularly bad, based as it was on the premise that the smallest target that could reliably be hit by night bombers was a city.

        How accurate was German bombing during the Battle of Britain?

      • Then the invention of the bomber allowed civilian murder to be taken to new extremes in WW2. The British bombing campaign was particularly bad, based as it was on the premise that the smallest target that could reliably be hit by night bombers was a city.

        Well, that and things like firebombing [wikipedia.org], as used heavily in places like Dresden and Tokyo. When you have things like urban civilian populations suffocating to death due to lack of oxygen because all the fire raining from the sky is using it up... well, I don't think you can get much worse in terms of disregard for civilians.

  • by DeathToBill (601486) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @05:39AM (#45886001) Journal

    Firstly, Betteridge's law applies here.

    Secondly, the laws of war have never been developed through "a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives." The laws of war have, unfortunately, always developed just after a major conflict, when lots of people said, "Whoa, we should do something to stop that happening again."

  • The only "law of war" that we need is one that states that war is not allowed, period. If you're an aggressor, you are breaking the "law of war". Seriously, we've come too far as a civilized society to still condone such a barbaric practice as war. If you do anything more than to defend yourself, then you become an aggressor. As far as I'm concerned, if you're an aggressor you forfeit all "rights" to your own safety as you are attempting to deprive others of similar rights, thus making pretty much everythi
    • by oodaloop (1229816)

      The only "law of war" that we need is one that states that war is not allowed, period. If you're an aggressor, you are breaking the "law of war".

      That sounds really great, but I doubt it would work well in practice. The colonies would still be under the Crown, who never lost power. France would be under control of Louis XXXXII, the South would still run on slavery, etc. Without war and revolution, how would despotic regimes ever end?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:58AM (#45886275) Homepage

        Actually that is the law. Starting a war of aggression is always a crime in international law. The only reason any nation is allowed to wage war is in self defence. That is why many people consider the Iraq invasion to have been illegal.

        As for colonies international law requires that populations be given the right to self determination. It's hard to enforce but in theory if the population of a geographical area within a country can show that they wish to be independent the country is obliged to try and facilitate that, perhaps through devolved powers or by letting them set up on their own. Slavery is illegal, internal revolutions are not wars per-se but internal conflict or civil war. The law only applies to nation states, not individuals or factions within nations.

      • Imposing your rule over another group of people sounds quite a lot like aggression to me. The way to tell this is if that other group tried to go against your will (whatever that may be), and you have to keep them in line with violence, imprisonment, or the threat of either, then you are clearly aggressing.
  • Are New Technologies Undermining the Laws of War?

    Yes? No? I don't know! Get out of my house!

  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:15AM (#45886131)

    "You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no Third Worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-varied, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rands, rubles, pounds and shekels"

    - Arthur Jensen (in the 1976 movie "Network")

    • by swb (14022)

      Rollerball and Network were two of the most prescient films of the 1970s.

    • by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:58AM (#45886505)

      As I get older, it seems that the movie Network is more truth.

      Snowden did not hurt US security -- because this data is likely for sale to China via a contractor. Our "massive trading partner" is not surprised. The "damage" was for the merely large companies to learn what the multinationals already knew. And "spying on everything" takes on other connotations if you think of economics, trade secrets, and negotiations. Sure, getting dirt on politicians is profitable -- but knowing about money and technology is profit.

      If there were an ACTUAL ENEMY out there, the US, the pentagon, and our secret agencies would be acting a lot differently than how they do now. It seems that these governments are more afraid of their own people. It's as if they were making a show of enemies at the gate to convince us to keep building up the castle and disenfranchise us.

      Why is China, after years of peace with the USA while we did not take advantage of superior power, now buying air craft carriers and possibly getting into spending a lot of their prosperity on a military like we do? Is the air craft carrier going to help them dominate something that WalMart didn't already help them own? Are they going to attack a Samsung store down the street? Couldn't they continue dominating the world better by restricting imports and foreign ownership and continuing their public works projects and subsidizing strategic industries? Or are they only interested in "enough prosperity" and then later the same excuses to the middle class why they can no longer "afford education and health care" -- when they have record profits one day like we do now?

  • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:42AM (#45886231)
    Today, emerging military technologies — including breech-loading cannons and rifled barrels — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war....

    Today, emerging military technologies — including tanks, aeroplanes and machine guns — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war....

    Today, emerging military technologies — including long range monoplanes and submarines — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war....
  • The thing about humans piloting machines of war is that you still need a lot of people's consent to fight the war. With a remote drone operator you could have a lot fewer folks consent for the same or more war-fighting: Have one guy take the helm of the lead fighting machine in an autopilot squadron. Kill their drone, it doesn't injure the pilot, not a scratch. Their neck's not on the line. They switch drones and keep coming for as much money as it takes to win.

    Against enemies yields less risk of life for your soldiers, more bag for your Buck, more death dealt, more atrocities. Given that these systems aren't even needed due to our existing military might it just seems a little too convenient that it would also take less folks to fight against their own people with these drones -- detached, not having to show your face on the battle field -- and especially when we discover government drones are making their way to the homeland skies.

    If your neck is not on the line, you have no right to pull the trigger. To remove the human element from war is inhumane by definition.

    • by Sique (173459)
      You could argue the same already for spears, arrows, cannonballs and bullets. The place where they inflict damage is not the place where the person responsible for them is. With the advent of ballistic missiles, this person didn't even need to be in the same country or at the same continent. Cruise missiles are nothing else than one-way-drones.

      This is in principle an age old problem, and it is unresolved since then. But there is not much pressure to actually resolve it, because it just means that heroism

    • Yeah, drones make war too easy.

      And even suicide attacks are self-moderating. But a drone can "strap on" some ordinance and you don't even need someone to volunteer or believe enough in the cause. There is no sacrifice or backlash -- just continual asymmetric warfare.

      How does someone on the receiving end of such a drone policy react? They aren't ALL bond villains, are they? They had a gripe and were in our way and someone they know got attacked by a faceless drone. I'm thinking the futility and anger would b

    • To add to this, the horrors of war used to only be known to the few who actually fought in it. Yes, they might have told stories, but it's one thing to hear a story from grandpa about the horrible war he fought in and another to see it for yourself. As technology improved, we began to get photographs from the front lines (or near enough to them) and people saw for themselves how horrible war could be. Then we got video and real-time reporting. Faced with the real horrors of war, people didn't as readily

  • War is a brutal savage activity that spreads disease, decimates populations, lays waste to cities, destroys entire cultures and civilizations, will eventually destroy the habitability of our planet, and is the ultimate expression of the human desire to possess their neighbor's belongings and force them to do one's bidding. Yes, some countries have entered into agreements with other countries about the humane treatment of non-combatants and prisoners, and the limitation and use of certain horrific weapons
  • "War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today."

    ~JFK

  • Did the machine gun change the rules of war? Rules of engagement yes. Where you lie down in the mud to avoid all the lead flying whereas you stood shoulder to shoulder before. Rules about who can be rightfully killed as a combatant and how prisoners of war and non combatants are treated, no. The only thing that's changed recently is the attitude of a certain super power towards obeying the current laws that work perfectly fine.
  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:25AM (#45886651)
    The USA is the prime developer of all these new technologies, and by far the biggest user of them. The USA has also declared that it is not bound by the International Criminal Court which investigates and tries criminal acts during wars. As a consequence the US feels that it is above the sanction of the rest of the world and has no need of it's "rules" for warfare.
    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      What else would you expect of a country in which the Constitution is thought of as more a guide by it's leaders.
  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:33AM (#45886709)
    Clausewitz stated in his book "On War" that war is won by the most violent. Therefore the one with the biggest guns (or at least the one who makes the most effective use of them) wins. And he gets to write the rules, and ignore the inconvenient ones. After all - who is going to stop him? The "rules of war" are only good during peacetime, and usually only as a pretext to help justify another war. Ironic, no?
  • It's simple in this day and age where face time means chatting via IM online of through Skype instead of one to one face time in person, the rules will disappear.
    Gone are the days when a solder might be close enough to smell the odor of his enemy, see the sweat on his brow or hear the cries as he passed on.

    It's all point n click now, home in time for American Idol.

    14 hour shift piloting fighter drones, "can you pick up milk and sugar on your way home honey?"
  • Is this a joke? There is only one law: Win, or you are conquered.

  • New technologies can undermine all laws. Laws must be updated to address the new technologies. Surveillance is another area where the effects are obvious.

  • You can't have weapons I can not afford!

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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