US in WW II

Discussions on all aspects of the United States of America during the Inter-War era and Second World War. Hosted by Carl Schwamberger.
Caldric
Member
Posts: 8077
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:50
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Post by Caldric » 24 Aug 2002 04:36

2 questions:

1. How do you define moral crime?
2. Where do you draw the line between war and moral crime?

Please enlighten us.
Do you trully need enlightening? I expect most people should know the answer to those questions.

User avatar
christianT
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 07 Aug 2002 08:15
Location: In a motel room...with your wife

Post by christianT » 24 Aug 2002 05:12

Caldric wrote:
2 questions:

1. How do you define moral crime?
2. Where do you draw the line between war and moral crime?

Please enlighten us.
Do you trully need enlightening? I expect most people should know the answer to those questions.
I am asking in the context of the Dresden bombing - see quote above.

Caldric
Member
Posts: 8077
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:50
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Post by Caldric » 24 Aug 2002 05:22

It was morally wrong yes, but criminal no. All I stated.

Moral's thankfully do not always dictate law, there is a difference, moral's of one man may be way lower then the next. The reason for law is balance, does not mean it should not be illegal, but from a stand point of the Hague and Geneva conventions it was not. The last time I talked about this around here I thought it had been declared an "Open City", but it turned out that it was not. And since it had military presence in the city it was a target, one piece of AA and it is legal. That does not mean I agree with it, I think it was a dirty deal, kicking an enemy when he is down goes against the "so-called ideals" of both the US and UK, even more so the UK.

User avatar
christianT
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 07 Aug 2002 08:15
Location: In a motel room...with your wife

Post by christianT » 24 Aug 2002 07:02

Caldric wrote:It was morally wrong yes, but criminal no. All I stated.
Moral's thankfully do not always dictate law, there is a difference, moral's of one man may be way lower then the next.
We are not talking of the morals of one individual versus another here. We are talking of moral principles in accordance with International Law.

A fundamental principle of international law and morality is that the deliberate murder of civilians is always wrong. In war, it is a war crime. In peace, it is terrorism. No matter the justice of the underlying cause, no end can ever justify that means.
Source: The National Journal, The case for Targeting Civilians, and Why it fails, by Stuart Taylor Jr., April 16, 2002.
The reason for law is balance, does not mean it should not be illegal, but from a stand point of the Hague and Geneva conventions it was not.


I am not quite sure what you are trying to articulate here. However, I am quoting an extract on Conduct of Hostilities in accordance with International Humanitarian Law as stipulated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The well established principles of distinction and proportionality as well as the prohibition to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering are at the core of this branch of international humanitarian law. From these principles more specific rules were developed, such as the prohibition of direct attacks against civilians or the civilian population as such or against civilian objects, the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks and the obligation to take precautionary measures with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. ee of the Red Cross:

The Dresden bombing was just that: a direct, deliberate attack on civilian refugees with the clear objective of terrorizing the population.
The last time I talked about this around here I thought it had been declared an "Open City", but it turned out that it was not. And since it had military presence in the city it was a target, one piece of AA and it is legal.
You must be joking (and if so, it is highly inappropriate). Firebombing of an entire city full of civilian refugees at the end of the war when Germany all but won the war, and justified by the presence of "even one piece of AA"? 8O Everybody knows that Dresden was a city of NO military strategic importance at that particular war juncture.
That does not mean I agree with it, I think it was a dirty deal, kicking an enemy when he is down goes against the "so-called ideals" of both the US and UK, even more so the UK.
Indeed, the british have, for the most part, blood on their hands here. Also, using words like "kicking an enemy", "dirty deal" in this case trivializes the issue - we are not talking of some street fight between gangs in an american metropolitan city. A war crime is a war crime, no matter who the perpetrators or justifications are.

-christianT

Caldric
Member
Posts: 8077
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:50
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Post by Caldric » 24 Aug 2002 07:23

Indeed, the british have, for the most part, blood on their hands here. Also, using words like "kicking an enemy", "dirty deal" in this case trivializes the issue - we are not talking of some street fight between gangs in an american metropolitan city. A war crime is a war crime, no matter who the perpetrators or justifications are.
It was not a war crime, that is the point. Any 2-bit lawyer could win such a case in a un-biased court. It also still comes down to the fact that Dresden is no different then any other city bombed during the war, but it is an easy one to try and point war crime fingers at the allies.

User avatar
christianT
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 07 Aug 2002 08:15
Location: In a motel room...with your wife

Post by christianT » 24 Aug 2002 17:32

Caldric wrote:
Indeed, the british have, for the most part, blood on their hands here. Also, using words like "kicking an enemy", "dirty deal" in this case trivializes the issue - we are not talking of some street fight between gangs in an american metropolitan city. A war crime is a war crime, no matter who the perpetrators or justifications are.
It was not a war crime, that is the point. Any 2-bit lawyer could win such a case in a un-biased court. It also still comes down to the fact that Dresden is no different then any other city bombed during the war, but it is an easy one to try and point war crime fingers at the allies.
You are really not justifying your point at all. You are over-simplifying this issue since you obviously are biased. You ignore the particular situation in Dresden's case. Dresden was specifically bombed to kill civilians since there were NO military targets of any significance. The same cannot be said about other cities - the allies could at least justify some kind of tangible military target, and even in these cases, the strategy of indiscriminate carpet bombing was highly questionable. But I understand, american military strategy has, in most cases, always employed overwhelming amount of firepower to subdue its enemy, even if at the price of huge numbers of civilian lives. Who cares since they are not american.

-christianT

Caldric
Member
Posts: 8077
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:50
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Post by Caldric » 24 Aug 2002 17:53

You are really not justifying your point at all. You are over-simplifying this issue since you obviously are biased. You ignore the particular situation in Dresden's case. Dresden was specifically bombed to kill civilians since there were NO military targets of any significance. The same cannot be said about other cities - the allies could at least justify some kind of tangible military target, and even in these cases, the strategy of indiscriminate carpet bombing was highly questionable. But I understand, american military strategy has, in most cases, always employed overwhelming amount of firepower to subdue its enemy, even if at the price of huge numbers of civilian lives. Who cares since they are not american.
No your use of the word simplification is typical in these debates. What is not simple about it? You people are always wrong about it being a crime and you won't admit it, there was no crime committed.

Of course the United States uses overwhelming firepower when it can be brought to bear, to do otherwise would be stupid. What nation does not? That is pretty shallow argument. You are wrong about the "at any price", you have an agenda to make the US look bad and that is the whole point of the Dresden complaint's almost every time. It is a way to point war crimes fingers at the Allies and try to justify German.

As for other cities being treated like Dresden I suggest you go read up on all the Strategic Bombing in WWII, not just the ones you can use to point your finger. So I will drop it because arguing this same thing every week gets old. You can go back to damning the allies without any debate.

I mean such statements as the following tell me that to continue talking to you about it is useless and fruitless waste of time.
Statements like "Germany got what it deserved" and the like are pure idiocy at best and morally repulsive at worst.

User avatar
christianT
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 07 Aug 2002 08:15
Location: In a motel room...with your wife

Post by christianT » 24 Aug 2002 19:18

Caldric wrote:
You are really not justifying your point at all. You are over-simplifying this issue since you obviously are biased. You ignore the particular situation in Dresden's case. Dresden was specifically bombed to kill civilians since there were NO military targets of any significance. The same cannot be said about other cities - the allies could at least justify some kind of tangible military target, and even in these cases, the strategy of indiscriminate carpet bombing was highly questionable. But I understand, american military strategy has, in most cases, always employed overwhelming amount of firepower to subdue its enemy, even if at the price of huge numbers of civilian lives. Who cares since they are not american.
No your use of the word simplification is typical in these debates. What is not simple about it? You people are always wrong about it being a crime and you won't admit it, there was no crime committed.
Your reply further shows that you lack intelligent arguments to back up your point. Who are you trying to single out by stating "you people"? I quoted you exerpts from the International Red Cross Commitee as well as exerpts from an article in The National Journal. I quote again:

A fundamental principle of international law and morality is that the deliberate murder of civilians is always wrong. In war, it is a war crime. In peace, it is terrorism. No matter the justice of the underlying cause, no end can ever justify that means.
Source: The National Journal, The case for Targeting Civilians, and Why it fails, by Stuart Taylor Jr., April 16, 2002.

The well established principles of distinction and proportionality as well as the prohibition to employ weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering are at the core of this branch of international humanitarian law. From these principles more specific rules were developed, such as the prohibition of direct attacks against civilians or the civilian population as such or against civilian objects, the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks and the obligation to take precautionary measures with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. ee of the Red Cross:
Source: The International Red Cross Commitee on International Hunabitarian Law
Of course the United States uses overwhelming firepower when it can be brought to bear, to do otherwise would be stupid. What nation does not?
You do not understand my point. I am not disputing using overwhelming firepower where it makes sense to do so - such as to counteract overwhelming firepower from an enemy. I am disputing the rationale of using overwhelming firepower over an enemy that does not possess such a capability, at either juncture of a conflict and in a situation where such use would be utter overkill, or targeted at the civilian population to induce terror. America has a dirty record in this department simply because its strategy has been based, in most cases, on such an approach. The firebombing of Tokyo in 1945, indiscriminate bombing during the Vietnam war are further examples.
You are wrong about the "at any price", you have an agenda to make the US look bad and that is the whole point of the Dresden complaint's almost every time. It is a way to point war crimes fingers at the Allies and try to justify German.
You are responding with shallow, groundless counter-acusations in lack of moving this debate to a deeper level.
So I will drop it because arguing this same thing every week gets old. You can go back to damning the allies without any debate.
Well, I thought you were of a higher caliber. I was wrong. Obviously, you cannot move yourself in this debate past point A.
I mean such statements as the following tell me that to continue talking to you about it is useless and fruitless waste of time.
Quote:
Statements like "Germany got what it deserved" and the like are pure idiocy at best and morally repulsive at worst.
That statement was made at point A of the debate. You have not made an inch of progress since. Go and take a hike in the Alaskan wilderness, it may clear up your mind.

Goodbye.
-christianT



[/i]

User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15326
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Post by Andy H » 25 Aug 2002 14:04

Hi Christian

A functioning infrastructure and logistic capacity are two of the most vital components to waging a war and so consequently there destruction is high on your target list.

There were military equipment targets within Dresden (Though not on a large scale) and Dresden was a administrive centre for both civilian and military functionaries and departments. Dresden was being used as a transit node for troops moving east to fight the Russians (An ally at the time). The Russians made the intial request for the attack on Dresden so to stem the flow of men & material that was killing there men.

Do you deny a request from a friend for help-No.

It is easy to make hay about how many Germans died in Dresden-be it 30,000 or more but no one for sure can say how many more Russians would have died if the Allies hadn't bombed Dresden and surely in general it is more immoral to deny a friend help than to aid his enemy?

User avatar
Andy H
Forum Staff
Posts: 15326
Joined: 12 Mar 2002 20:51
Location: UK and USA

Post by Andy H » 25 Aug 2002 14:08

Sorry forgot to include this; Yes the city was full of refugees but again we don't know the % of refugees killed against inhabitants who may have worked within arnaments factories or worked for the civil & military depratments, and again we come round to the old conudrum of warfare who is more vital:-

The person who manufacture's the gun or the person who fires it.

:D Andy from the Shire

User avatar
Aufklarung
Financial supporter
Posts: 5136
Joined: 17 Mar 2002 04:27
Location: Canada

Post by Aufklarung » 25 Aug 2002 14:14

I agree with Andy.

Caldric
Member
Posts: 8077
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 21:50
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Post by Caldric » 25 Aug 2002 18:32

Yes well put Andy, and remember they were only "Russian's". :|

User avatar
christianT
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 07 Aug 2002 08:15
Location: In a motel room...with your wife

Post by christianT » 26 Aug 2002 07:44

Hello Andy,

It's good to see that you elevated the discussion past the level of Caldric and his likes.
A functioning infrastructure and logistic capacity are two of the most vital components to waging a war and so consequently there destruction is high on your target list.
In principle, you are correct.
There were military equipment targets within Dresden (Though not on a large scale) and Dresden was a administrive centre for both civilian and military functionaries and departments. Dresden was being used as a transit node for troops moving east to fight the Russians (An ally at the time). The Russians made the intial request for the attack on Dresden so to stem the flow of men & material that was killing there men.
We disagree here. Let me explain.

Dresden, up to that point, was not bombed by the allies specifically because it was not considered a military/economic strategic target like the Ruhr region, Hamburg, Kiel, etc. And the allies were right in their assessment. Dresden was mainly a city known for its rich cultural heritage and its baroque architectural gems. There were no armament industries, nor any strategic targets of any significance that, should they been destroyed, the german military capacity would have been hampered at all. The only strategic targets of any significance were the railroad station in the northern part of the city, and some military barracks in the same area as well. Both of these targets were left INTACT after the bombing. The primary reason was that the bombing was concentrated on the Mitte (city centre) and old town, and it should have been quite obvious to the allied air commanders that these sectors of the city were not a strategic target. Actually, they were a strategic target, the strategy being to kill massive numbers of civilians in order to induce terror in the german population.

Let me summarize the events: over 1300 RAF and USAF bombers dropped more than 3300 tons of bombs, most of those being incendiary ones. The purpose was to create a firestorm, and to cause the maximum number of casualties among the population. The entire old town was destroyed - again, the railroad station was NOT in the old town, but in the northern part of the city, and it was left untouched. A second raid followed, and low flying aircraft was used to machine gun fleeing civilians - mostly women, children, and elderly that seeked refuge from the eastern German regions that were being overrun by the Red Army. Because these aircrafts were low flying, the pilots were fully aware of their targets.

Incidentally, a look at the aerial maps of the city before and after the terror attacks clearly showed that the large, white fuel tanks owned by British Petroleum were left intact. I wonder why? Coincidence - I think not.

A number of allied pilots that participated in that infamous mission made public statements of regret and anger at the completely unjustified (from a military standpoint) civilian massacre and destruction of one of Europe's cultural and architectural landmarks.

Also, I am quoting Winston Churchill himself, in a memorandum to Air Marshall Arthur Harris, date March 28th, 1945 (bold letters are mine):

It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land. We shall not, for instance, be able to get housing material out of Germany for our own needs because some temporary provision would have to be made for the Germans themselves. I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives, such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction.
Do you deny a request from a friend for help-No.
Let's be serious. Russia was no friend of the Allies then, as it was no friend during the cold war. Logically, it made much more sense for the allies to let Germany concentrate its few remaining resources on the Eastern Front to hinder the progress of the Red Army towards the heart of Europe, and at the same time, divert enemy resources to the east. Churchill was not stupid nor naive (like Roosevelt) - he understood quite well, and at an earlier stage of the war, the threat of the Soviet Union. One of his early proposals for allied landing in Europe was in the Balkans in order to secure as much as possible of the European continent from the Soviets. No, the real purpose (and as flawed as it turned out to be) was to simply kill innocent civilians in order to terrorize the german population, hence causing a quicker german surrender.

-christianT

User avatar
christianT
Member
Posts: 30
Joined: 07 Aug 2002 08:15
Location: In a motel room...with your wife

Post by christianT » 26 Aug 2002 08:18

Sorry forgot to include this; Yes the city was full of refugees but again we don't know the % of refugees killed against inhabitants who may have worked within arnaments factories or worked for the civil & military depratments,
Andy, there was NO armament industry in Dresden at that time (I do not know if there is one today, I doubt it). Please refer to my previous post. The city was full with mostly women, children, and elderly refugees from Ost Preussen, Hintern Pommern, and other eastern german lands.
and again we come round to the old conudrum of warfare who is more vital:
The person who manufacture's the gun or the person who fires it.
The conundrum is applicable in other circumstances, and not in the case of Dresden 1945.

Regards,
-christianT

Alex F.
Member
Posts: 327
Joined: 02 May 2002 16:33
Location: USA

Post by Alex F. » 30 Aug 2002 14:16

I'm a bit appalled at some of the comments in this thread.

No wonder people find Americans to be asses.

Dresden was a crime. Whether it could be claimed as such in a court or not, it was one.

Even the Allied leadership realized that afterwards.

Well, the good thing about threads like this is that it really points out the extremists and the haters.

Alex

Return to “USA 1919-1945”