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The Military

Are New Technologies Undermining the Laws of War? 317

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 @06:05AM (#45885887)
    "All is fair in love and war"
  • by hawks5999 ( 588198 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:06AM (#45885891)
    and use technology for accomplishing things like ending hunger.
  • Ignorance (Score:5, Insightful)

    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.

  • Also, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @06:20AM (#45885943) Homepage Journal
    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 @06:34AM (#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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Also, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adam Colley ( 3026155 ) < minus herbivore> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @07:57AM (#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, Insightful)

    by PseudonymousBlowhard ( 1319965 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @08:41AM (#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.
  • Re:Naive Article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheloniousToady ( 3343045 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:19AM (#45886603)

    Firstly, Betteridge's law applies here.

    Yeah, I noticed that also. Which makes me wonder: if Slashdot ran an article called, "Does Betteridge's Law Apply to Every Headline Here That Ends With a Question Mark?", would it still apply?

  • Re:Also, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:29AM (#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.

  • Re:Also, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @09:32AM (#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
    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.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas