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Thread: Does America target civilians in War or is it collateral damage ?

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    Question Does America target civilians in War or is it collateral damage ?

    I believe that the Wars that America have fought have been Imperialist Wars but I don't agree with people who compare Bush to Hitler. I don't deny that have been War Crimes commited by the American Soldiers but I don't believe that the American President targets civilians does anyone agree feel free to disagree with me ? My understanding is that civilians die and get killed in every War is it collateral damage ?

    http://semiskimmed.net/bushhitler.html

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    I believe they just consider it to be "collateral damage", but that's precisely the problem

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    Post I agree.

    I agree.

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    I believe they do target civilians, but not in the way you are thinking. There is no clear divide between military and civilian in the last few wars that the US have been involved in. That is why the US army uses the term 'insurgent'.

    First some shistory.In Vietnam soliders did intentionally target civilians because of the Viet Cong's support in the civilian population. In Guatemala the US trained and supported the Guatemalan military for a significant time who had operations aimed at displacing civilian population to harm the left-wing guerrillas.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan the US and its allies would target individual civilians based on their importance (as believed by the US and its allies) to armed movements against the US military. They could be clerics, business men, tribal leaders or any civilian giving tactical or mental support to the anti-occupation movement.

    That is why the US government uses the term 'insurgent". A word that is not really explained, but leads us to beleive it means 'not-civilian'. Basically we are lead to believe that good civilians won't defend themselves from an occupying force. We are lead to believe insurgent is not just a civilian with a gun. In Iraq and Afghanistan the armed forces were destroyed very quickly, so technically only a small portion of targets would be military, the rest were 'insurgents' or if you are on the other side of the divide 'civilians with guns'.

    Someone with better knowledge on human rights and international law could address this properly.
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    it depends, and a lot of that is depending on the war.

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    They're called "casualties" which for some reason makes it okay for the likes of the US and NATO to, say, blow up hospitals and nursing homes and civilian buses, trains, markets...

    Just look at the "Operation Allied Force" thing, for example...

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    They are often more than just collateral damage. Killing civilians is a really good way to demoralize the other side. Kill enough and the resistance will recede into fighting amongst themselves until they gain the courage to fight you.
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    I don't know what the REAL policy behind targeting civilians is, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are instructed to do so. Of course then there are also those who use civilians for target practice and find it quite a laugh killing other people.

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    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright under Clinton:
    Quote Originally Posted by Albright
    Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
    Whether or not the intent is there is superfluous. Polices are implemented that are well-known to cause civilian casualties, and these policies are not in the furtherance of human rights or human life in the region in any way.

    If policymakers are well aware that their military and economic campaigns will lead to civilian deaths, they are just as culpable as if they "didn't want" innocents to die. What we are seeing with the sanctions on Iran right now is similar to the policy against Iraq, and the intent is the same: to foment unrest by making the population destitute. The Shock and Awe campaign was a deliberate military strategy to destroy civilian infrastructure and foment chaos on the ground. The targeted bombings over Pakistan are postured against civilian populations, which make up the bulk of the deaths from these attacks.

    Civilian death is a known consequence of US military strategy, and it is often as aspect of the strategic timeline that the US military tries to implement.

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    Of course they target civilians. Targeting the population is a common tactic in wartime. It breaks the moral of the people. Use of cluster bombs over populated areas is enough proof. They know exactly what they are doing and what they are targeting. Hitting civilian structures is a favorite pastime of the US military. Bunch of savages.
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    Like every single military force in history, the US army kills civilians intentionally and unintentionally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tradeunionsupporter View Post
    I believe that the Wars that America have fought have been Imperialist Wars but I don't agree with people who compare Bush to Hitler. I don't deny that have been War Crimes commited by the American Soldiers but I don't believe that the American President targets civilians does anyone agree feel free to disagree with me ? My understanding is that civilians die and get killed in every War is it collateral damage ?

    http://semiskimmed.net/bushhitler.html
    Yes, I think they do and there's lots of empirical evidence of this including footage from a helicopter where the pilot questioned his orders to fire because after strafing a building that was supposed to be a military target a bunch of civilians including many children ran out. The officers told him to shoot the people fleeing anyway. And there's the infamous slaughter of people fleeing cities on the highway at the end of the first Gulf War.

    In counter-insurgencies, targeting civilians is unavoidable and in occupations terrorizing and targeting the population is always an outcome regardless of any direct orders or plans from the top to do so - though it would be hard to "pacify" a population without doing some of this intentionally. In "Battle of Algiers" the French military commander puts counter-insurgency succinctly: "in this situation we are the NAZIs". He just means tactically that's what they are doing - the colonial government is the Vichy government of Algiers - and he had no problem with that because in his view they were "right" whereas presumably the NAZIs were "wrong".

    But specifically, I do not know if there is any evidence out there that the US military targets people as a conscious tactic or if they really do see it as collateral damage - either way, it doesn't make that much difference because the results are the same.

    In WWII the US specifically targeted German working class neighborhoods - the ruling class knows that society can't function without proletarian labor - this is true in war and so since the US couldn't hit German manufacturing bunkers, they could kill and scatter the labor force and stop war-production.

    For all the bourgeois economic theories arguing anything but the centrality of workers in wealth-creation and the idea that control of the means of production is the basis for social power: in industrial warfare the means of production (train tracks, factories, roads, etc) are just as strategic as army bases and navys.

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    How about the two atomic bombs dropped over Japan? They were ordered by the president, and dropped with the intent to kill as many human lives as possible. Same goes for the fire-bombing of Tokyo that killed even more than the atom bombs.

    Collateral damage?:




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    Quote Originally Posted by Siembra Socialismo View Post
    How about the two atomic bombs dropped over Japan? They were ordered by the president, and dropped with the intent to kill as many human lives as possible. Same goes for the fire-bombing of Tokyo that killed even more than the atom bombs.

    Collateral damage?:

    Shame.
    Germany too. Both Kurt Vonnegutt and Howard Zinn were famously broken from their "Good-war" "popular-front against fascism" illusions about the War due to experiences with the mass-bombing of what they saw as non-strategic civilian neighborhoods after Germany was already essentially defeated.

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    sanctions meant to cripple civilian infrastructure and to make life unlivable for civilian populations, and like the Yugoslavia wars, bombing civilian infrastructure (and in Iraq in the first gulf war and the period of sanction, same with Afghanistan in the 90s)
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    We've honestly need to jump out of the slippery slope that is the doctrine of 'Total War'. (Not the video game series, referring to the military doctrine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_war)

    Considering that war is going to still be happening for a long time, it seems, we should counter the decrease in distinction between civilian and military targets. Wars should be fought between states or governments, however it is instead being fought between entire populations.

    Of course, avoiding the Total War doctrine does not make war a good thing. Instead, it would lessen the amount of civilian deaths at the hands of bombers and soldiers that happen during wars, if they happen for some reason.
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    Interestingly, this brought to mind another refute of democratic propertarianism (ie market "socialism"). War profiteers. Would it not be in the interests of a war material producing cooperative to encourage endless war?

    *Going to repost in the market socialism thread*
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocean Seal View Post
    They are often more than just collateral damage. Killing civilians is a really good way to demoralize the other side. Kill enough and the resistance will recede into fighting amongst themselves until they gain the courage to fight you.
    Do you write this because you think this actually occurs, or because governments say this when justifying the strategy?

    How about the two atomic bombs dropped over Japan? They were ordered by the president, and dropped with the intent to kill as many human lives as possible. Same goes for the fire-bombing of Tokyo that killed even more than the atom bombs.
    If the Presidents intent was to kill as many human lives as possible, wasn't it a mistake for him to order the atomic bombings if more people died due to fire-bombing, not only in Tokyo but in Europe as well? I believe his intent was to end the war in the quickest way possible.


    Anyways, this topic is too broad. If talking about today, the question is, Does the US target civilians? If talking about WWII, the question becomes, Was targeting civilians justifiable?

    In my opinion, especially in Iraq's case, every civilian 'accidentally' killed by US forces should be counted as a targeted killing regardless, as thousands of Iraqi civilians paid the price of US aggression.But do I think US or NATO troops willing target civilians? No, but they are ordered to take out targets and if civilians are killed that is the fault of those giving the orders. If a pilot is ordered to bomb a house, it's the person giving the order that should bear responsibility if civilians are killed.
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