Monday, December 9, 2013

Max Velocity on Terrorist Vs Freedom Fighter

An interesting discussion going on at Max's place. Suppose like all things the clearly defined extremes are a lot easier than the murky middle ground. Also I cannot help but observe that when we try to differentiate between 'terrorist' and 'freedom fighter' those who we are ideologically compatible with tend to come out as 'freedom fighter' a whole lot more often.

The clearest issue in my mind is whether a given combative group chooses to target random civilians in order to spread terror or commits atrocities against innocent family members of the enemy side. If random people or civilian dependents of enemy combatants end up hurt or killed in a wrong place wrong time scenario that is unfortunate but war is messy. I think the difference is about intent and taking actions that are reasonably focused towards ones enemy.

Example: Lets say the Chinese invade America and I'm playing Red Dawn. A key officer in the PLA lives with his family in a small home near their base. My group wants to kill/ capture him so we plan a 0300 operation. The op goes bad. The officer was having trouble sleeping so he heard our entry and armed himself. In the craziness a kerosene lantern was broke and a fire stared. The officer died as did his family. This is an unfortunate situation but ole LT Wong made a choice for his family.

On the other hand if we tied up the whole family, covered them with petrol then did the dramatic cigarette toss that is not acceptable in my mind.

The hard truth is that was is an ugly dangerous business. You can do everything right and sometimes the wrong people still get killed. That being said accepting some inherent risk is different than being ambivalent. One might decide that certain tactics and weapons should not be employed in certain areas due to risk of collateral damage. A 500 pound IED designed to flip over a MAC V in the desert won't hurt anybody else, or at least not a lot of people. On the other hand that same IED emplaced for the same reason going off in a Bazzar on a peak shopping day would kill a lot of people.

Well those are my thoughts on that. As always feel free to join the conversation.


riverrider said...

i'm always amazed when people say emphatically "i wouldn't do x or y, because i'm an honorable guy (or whatever)." none of these people have seen total unrestricted war, like say germany ww2 or even the serb genicide in bosnia. the hard truth is a man doesn't KNOW what he will do after he sees his kids ground up by tank treads in the town square, or comes home from a successful night of insurgency to find his wife n kids brutalized to death. he can kill as many local guntoters as he wants but he can't get to the head of the snake to kill it. suppose he finds the family of the head of the snake? what-will-he-do? none of us KNOWS, and THANK GOD ALMIGHTY that none us knows,yet.

3rdman said...

I guess whoever wins gets to decide who the freedom fighters and terrorist were.

I also agree with riverrider, you just really do not know what you are capable of doing until you are forced to become an insurgent for whatever reason.

The American military did some horrible things in the bombing of German cities, but did it shorten the war and save American, most likely. Again the victory gets to write history that benefits them. Dropping the two A-Bombs saved American lives, but we killed over 100,000 Japanese men, women, and children in doing so. I would support doing it all over again!

3rdman said...

Victors not victory

Harry Flashman said...

I wouldn't intentionally hurt women or children. I know the world has changed but I haven't in that respect. Of course, my generation is dieing off pretty quickly now and the more practical and less inhibited people are running the show. There have always been people who would do what has to be done, like the men who dropped the bomb on the Japanese. I am just saying I wouldn't have done it myself.

Aesop said...

Warfare has no rules, but one: win.

Anything else is optional, regardless of how we might wish it were otherwise.

On the way to either victory of defeat, the chief guiding principle is best described by no less an authority than Cap'n Jack Sparrow:
"There's what you can do, and what you can't."

Most of the whining afterwards has a lot more to do with whose pet ox is being gored than moral absolutes about right or wrong. The annoying part is that once hostilities commence, it's all shades of gray.

"It is best that war is so terrible, else we would love it too much." - Robt. E. Lee

Bret said...

Also recall that the victors write the history. Lincoln, widely recognized as a founding father, would have been tryed for war crimes today due to his scorched earth policy of warfare, burning of crops, killing of livestock and raping of women. Yet the yankees thought it was all ok. History still recalls the south as the bad guy yet we followed the constitution.

Aesop said...

Well, except for that part about sedition.

Anonymous said...

Not only is it a case of 'what is done' and 'how it was done', but also 'who' is defining the action.

Using the definition of the current occupant of the big house on 1600 Penn., Pearl Harbor was a limited air strike with no boots on the ground.


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