Kasper, Sir Arthur Harris was not even in Great Britain when the policy of "area" or "city" bombing was decided upon by Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Cherwell, the premier's chief scientific advisor. Harris was in the USA, the reasons why, I am unaware of...but he was abroad - that much I can assure you.
Secondly, I have already explained that Sir Arthur Harris was also not part of the formulation for the controversial Dresden raid. At first, Harris opposed such a plan for two reasons:
1. Dresden was in South-East Germany, and entailed a considerably longer flight for his crews in the cold, February winter. He believed such a raid would place the safety of his crews in jeopardy.
2. Harris himself knew little of the aerial and ground-based defences in Dresden...
See the excerpt below from the RAF Bomber Command memorial website:
The eastern cities of Chemnitz, Leipzig and Dresden were identified as targets. Bomber Command had not bombed Dresden before, despite the fact that Harris had been authorised to attack the city several months previously. He had become reluctant about the idea as he felt the long distance to Dresden, particularly in winter, would put his crews at unnecessary risk. There was also little information available about the target and its defences. However, when the specific order to bomb Dresden came through via the Air Ministry from the headquarters of General Eisenhower, the overall Allied commander, Harris was obliged to carry it out, although the fact he requested the order in writing reveals his true feelings about the operation.
Both the RAF and USAAF bombed Dresden causing a very high level of destruction and casualties. Later, Churchill issued a memo criticising ‘acts of terror and wanton destruction’ in reference to the attack. The Air Ministry and Harris were stunned by this, as it had been Churchill himself who instigated the raid. Churchill withdrew the memo but it was a sign of things to come.
During the war Harris had become a household name as one of the Allies’ greatest military leaders and the determined commander who was hitting back at Germany. Once the war was over and the level of destruction in Germany’s cities became apparent, Churchill and other politicians were careful to distance themselves from what had been inflicted on the enemy.
It was even claimed that the area bombing of German cities had been kept secret from the British public during wartime. This was untrue, as shown by newspapers and newsreels of the time, which publicised in detail the devastation of Bomber Command’s heavy raids on German cities to a public eager to feel that Britain was ‘hitting back’.
Kasper, I do not deny that the raid on Dresden was excessive, and pushing the boundaries of necessity - I doubt even Bomber Command veterans will severely refute such a claim, but neither they, nor their commander are war criminals. The 45 000 civilian casualties of Dresden was a tragedy - a tragic aftermath of total war between industrialised nations, and in total war, the morale of the civil population is undoubtedly a target. It is not an alien concept in wars of such grand scale - for example:
1. The Zeppelin raids by the early Luftwaffe of World War I upon British cities, a direct attempt to target civilian morale.
2. The Germans use of the infamous "Paris Gun", once again in World War I. Known to the Germans as the "Kaiser Gun", this massive construction was used to shell the French capital with projectiles weighing up to 900kg. The target was, once again, civilian morale.
3. The Luftwaffe's attempt once again to target British civil morale in 1940-41. Coventry, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool were just a few of the cities to experience devastation on a grandiose scale.
4. The German "revenge" weapons - the V1 and V2 rockets, whose targets were the residential districts of London and South-East England. Do you believe that the Germans would have hesitated to use the V2 on such a grand a scale as it's predecessor?
RAF Bomber Command was not the only force to have been utilised for generic aerial bombardment, yet the role of their brave bomber crews is often maligned and even criminalised (crewing a Lancaster or a B-17 was by no means a "cowardly act". 55 500 men were lost within Bomber Command, and 1/3rd of all USAAF bomber crews became casualties). Such a policy was employed by all participants in World War II - Great Britain, the USA, Germany, the Soviet Union and Japan.