Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rules of war on life support

The nature of war leads to desperation and disrespect for rules therefore there are only two ways to get the rules of war off life support.

Either you abandon any rules and allow the strongest to rule and dictate everything or you put an end to war and convert the rules of war to the rules of peace.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that attempts to implement rules of war should be abandoned at least not until a more effective way of ending wars is found and taught to the public and those who make the decisions that lead us into war. In order to develop a better set of rules it will be necessary for those who make them and the public to have access to accurate information they need to make decisions. The Mass Media isn’t currently helping with this; quite the contrary they are putting out so much propaganda that no one that relies solely on them could possibly have the information they need to develop rational rules of war and that is part of the problem. The first casualty of war has often been said to be the truth. This is at least partially accurate however even when we aren’t at war we now have a hard time getting reliable information thanks to the consolidation of the Mass Media and the fact that they’re controlled by a small percentage of the public that often benefits from the wars they may help incite. One of the most important things that needs to be done is to make information the public needs to avoid unjust wars (which includes most if not all wars) available to the public. The public needs to learn more about the situations that lead up to war and how to avoid them.

Regardless of what the right “rules of war” should be there are some general ideas that many people have that should be addressed even if they aren’t accurate simply because they believe them and these beliefs influence decisions. Rules of war have been around for thousands of years however they haven’t been consistent. More often than not they have been controlled by the most powerful members of society many of these people are the same people that lead us into war; which makes them biased. Ideally the public should be more involved in developing the rules of war; however most members of the public don’t have the education they need to make decisions about the rules of war. Some academic researchers including Richard A Gabriel author of “No More Heroes: Madness and Psychiatry in War” and Peter A Singer author of “One World: the Ethics of Globalization” may help more people understand more about war and how to avoid it. This doesn’t mean that anyone should rely solely on any one source though. This should be considered especially when there is a potential conflict of interest. What I’ve seen of both these authors is credible however it is worth keeping in mind that Richard A Gabriel was once an intelligence officer which might mean that he may have once had a conflict of interest. This doesn’t mean that he should be disregarded especially since his work has been credible and at time it will be necessary to count on information from people that have participated in wars to gain information needed to make decisions. Peter A Singer has consistently argued from a logical point of view in favor of the most efficient way to accomplish the best results. He argues that we should fight wars only if it is necessary to help people who are being subject to serious violence and if we have a reasonable expectation of winning and improving the situation. He doesn’t favor wars that are fought primarily for the profit of those with political power. Unfortunately more often than not wars are fought when those with political power benefit from them. In order to set up more rational rules of war that could lead to an end of war then it will be necessary to take these decisions out of the hands of the minority of people who benefit from wars and put it in the hands of educated members of the public that pay the price for wars.

The rules of war in colonial times often involved soldiers that lined up in formation and those in the front line would fire while those in the back were reloading. Soldiers blindly obeyed orders and lined up to participate in war fought in this fashion which was considered dignified. Those that made the decisions weren’t even in the front of the battle if they were present at all. Soldiers who may have had more status than peasants were considered “honorable” because they learned to blindly obey orders. This type of warfare may have actually been more ethical than many others that were much more likely to kill innocent woman and children however it involved blind obedience to the leaders who made the decisions and it was for the benefit of the upper classes who ruled. The members of the public were considered property. Even then when those killed on the battlefield were mainly soldiers there would have been many innocent woman and children killed one way or another. Farther back in time when Caesar fought Vercingetorix woman and children were used as shields; or they were used as propaganda to prove that one side or another had little or no respect for the rights of innocents. This type of abuse of the innocent still goes on today; it is often done by many of the most powerful governments and terrorists. Under the current circumstances the terrorist are being accused of using propaganda to justify their goals. This has often been reported in the mainstream media however this doesn’t necessarily mean that the propaganda they use is one hundred percent false as the media has often implied; nor is the news the mainstream media one hundred percent accurate in fact it appears to be as biased as the propaganda the terrorists are using.

By attempting to dismiss the propaganda the terrorist use in it’s entirety without considering the accurate portions of it the mainstream media is giving credibility to the opposition propaganda. For example the terrorist propaganda probably includes claims that the USA reinstalled the Shah in the fifties and supported him while he was torturing his own people and that the USA also supported Sadam Hussein before they opposed him. These claims are true; in fact this has been typical of the behavior of the USA government and many people in other parts of the world are aware of it; however a large percentage of the population of the USA remains unaware of this. The rules of war as they are being presented to the public are based partially on the propaganda that is given to the public. In order to develop reasonable rules of war the public has to be able to sort through the propaganda. In fact one of the rules of war should be to protect the free press sot that the public can obtain accurate information to keep their governments accountable. A patriotic press that looks the other way when people on “our side” do something wrong doesn’t do this. This type of press ensures that there will be two different versions of the truth neither of which will be accurate and people on both sides will routinely be making the most important decisions of their lives and in the world based on lies.

It may help to start with some things that every one agrees with if possible or if not some things that as many people as possible agree with. It may help to make these things as simple as possible although before it is done it may not turn out that way. Ultimately in a true democracy the public should be involved in making the rules of war and they should have the information they need to do so. This should include input from peace activists, psychologists, educators, those who fight the wars and many other people that are affected by wars. A few rules that have been considered in the past include the following:

Both sides should abide by the same rules.

Killing the innocent including children and other noncombatants is wrong. If this can’t be avoided completely then the best efforts should be made to reduce or eliminate this as soon as possible.

Torture is wrong and it should be against the rules of war. It has been proven by numerous research efforts that even when it used to gain information it doesn’t do a good job accomplishing this.

Preventing people from telling the truth about many of the most important facts, while simultaneously spreading false information that guarantees that wars will continue to be fought when they could be prevented, is wrong and should be against the rules of war.

Wars shouldn’t be fought at all unless there is a just cause for it.

Whether or not we have to fight wars we should make more of an effort to understand them and find out how to avoid them in the future and this should be taught to the general public.

These all seem to be simple and valid concerns however it is guaranteed that when attempting to put them into practice there will be an enormous amount of problems since, in practice, the primary concern of war is to win at all costs. Allowing these rules to interfere with winning seems illogical. The people that speak the loudest about violations of the rules of war in the past have often been those with the most power since they have access to the press to get their message across; unfortunately they often use this to spread propaganda instead of looking out for the best interest of the majority.

Both sides should abide by the same rules.

If you ask them if both sides should play by the same rules then they will almost certainly say yes; but then if you follow up and ask if it is fair for one side to have much more powerful weapons then it becomes tougher. The most powerful institutions and governments have the best weapons and they justify this by claiming they are right and, in the case of most modern governments, they are fighting to defend democracy. The fact that they are defending democracy gives them the justification to use better weapons. The problem is that the opposition clearly doesn’t see it that way. They are fighting for their cause whatever it may be and since they don’t have the same access to weapons they fight using any means they can so in practice this doesn’t work. Further more if the more powerful governments are fighting to defend democracy they should listen to the opposition and hopefully come to a compromise before it even comes to war. If little or no effort is made to communicate with the opposition then the claim that they are fighting for democracy is suspect. If on the other hand they communicate and the terrorists are unreasonable as the USA claims then it will be tougher to sort out. A closer look at whether or not the USA is fighting to defend democracy will clearly not back this claim up. First of all if they truly are fighting to defend democracy they would start by maintaining a true democracy at home which is by the people for the people and of the people. The USA claims they already have this but in order for the people to influence the government they have to understand it and they need an education and access to the information to make important decisions. The American public doesn’t have this. Also if the USA was fighting to defend democracy abroad they would respect the will of the local populations and support them. A close look at past conflicts clearly indicates they haven’t done this. The USA has often fought for what they refer to as the best interest of the country, referring to the USA. A close look at what they consider the best interest of the country seems to imply that what eve3re is best for the corporations is best for the country even when it means suppressing wages, civil rights and environmental protections abroad and even sometimes at home.

Each side may have different advantages which they may claim is justified and if they gave it up then it would be considered unfair. This goes back hundreds if not thousands of years. In world war one the USA and Britain claimed it would be against the rules of war for submarines to shoot on passenger ships. Germany claimed that since they had the advantage with submarines it would be unfair to them furthermore when it came to implementing the rules in practice the Germans attacked a passenger ship which they claimed were carrying weapons. The Americans and Britain’s denied it and claimed it was an act of war. It wasn’t until later that it was revealed that the Germans were right. This is an example of why rules don’t necessarily apply until after the war is over unless they can be enforced before the war starts and prevent the war from happening at all. Similar incident continue to happen today only in some case the roles are reversed. There are many cases where the USA claims the opposition is using civilian locations to conduct ware activities. The USA and other western powers are also attempting to set up rules where they are the only ones that should be allowed to have powerful weapons like nukes, chemical weapons and many other advanced arms. There are semi-enforced embargoes against countries they consider rogue. Many of these countries were once allies.

Killing the innocent including children and other noncombatants is wrong. If this can’t be avoided completely then the best efforts should be made to reduce or eliminate this as soon as possible.

Rules against killing children should seem like a no brainer but in practice it doesn’t work that way. The most powerful governments often criticize the terrorists for targeting children and even using them as shields or even using them to fight wars. These are reasonable criticisms and most if not all reasonable people would agree that they should be against the rules of war. However the terrorists may be acting out of desperation and they may turn around and say the USA is also violating the rights of children. They may claim they are fighting to liberate the children who are being suppressed by the multinational corporations or some other cause. Even if they don’t make this claim initially they may do it in response to criticism about their abuse of children. If the USA ands other western governments wants to justify their activities by claiming that they are defending children they should start by looking out for the best interest of children themselves. This means that they should be paying close to how may children they kill as a result of collateral damages. They should also keep this in mind when dealing with governments that abuse or kill children.

The USA has dealt with many governments that have disregarded the rights of children when fighting wars as well as conducting business.

If killing children is a violation of war it should also be a violation of business.

Many of the governments that the USA supports don’t respect the rights of children; therefore if they want to use this as a justification they should consider holing their own allies accountable. Many of the business interests that also support the USA government also have little or no respect for the rights of children. The rebels that the USA are fighting often came from these environments in the past. They have been raised in an environment where their own rights aren’t respected therefore they have little or no incentive to play by the rules of war. The collateral damage from the past provides a breeding ground for future terrorists. If there isn’t a reasonable respect for the rights of the poor in peace time it would be unreasonable to expect them to respect the rules of war in wartime. The most powerful countries should set the example themselves if they want others to follow it. The USA has also been opposed to the treaty to ban landmines which affects mostly children in the long run. If their were landmines in the USA they would be much more likely to be outraged and oppose the use of land mines but since it is mainly foreigners in third world countries that are being killed or mutilated by landmines it is considered a necessity of war for the USA.

Clearly killing children should be against the rules of war but in the long run it is much more important to make this against the rules of peace. Children who are raised in dysfunctional and abusive environments are much more likely to become violent as adults whether this means they are raised in abusive homes or refugee camps or if they are forced to work in horrendous conditions. These should be among the highest priorities since these children could either become productive citizens that help support society and democracy if they’re raised right or they could become angry adults who may be enticed to join those who listen to them which may be terrorist organizations. If the most powerful institutions aren’t going to make a sincere effort to provide social justice they’re going to continue to face opposition from one opponent after another in one war after another.

This shouldn’t be limited to wars it should also be enforced when it comes to embargoes and other efforts to control the threats to the world. These also often wind up targeting children. The Israeli check point are a clear example where there are actions being taken that punish an entire population for the actions of the most extreme and then they wind up driving the moderates to support the extremists. This type of activity is designed to maintain constant conflict whether it is intended to or not. There have been similar instances in Iraq and many other embargoes that were designed to punish the dictator but wound up punishing the children more and ensuring that there would be stronger opposition that was maintained from much more people in the long run.

Torture is wrong and it should be against the rules of war. It has been proven by numerous research efforts that even when it used to gain information it doesn’t do a good job accomplishing this.

There has been an enormous amount of research to indicate that torture doesn’t accomplish the goal the advocates of it indicate it does. They don’t rely on actual history or research to back it up instead they generally create a hypothetical where everything is designed to justify the conclusion they started out with, that torture will help them get the information they need to prevent a disaster from happening. This is covered more in another entry.

Preventing people from telling the truth about many of the most important facts, while simultaneously spreading false information that guarantees that wars will continue to be fought when they could be prevented, is wrong and should be against the rules of war.

Part of the problem is that we don’t really have a free press as the most powerful institutions seem to indicate. There are still a lot of people that can communicate with each other and use the internet to spread accurate information but they can’t reach the vast majority of the public and they don’t have the resources to do the research into many subject to present the truth to the public. The vast majority of the public obtains their information from the Mass Media and they are controlled by a small percentage of the public. The Mass Media is controlled mainly by five multi-national corporations that have a clear bias and often benefit from the wars that are often fought. Unless we have a sincere Media that can reach a much larger percentage of the public that is accountable and relies on accurate research then it is unlikely that much can be done to reduce wars. The war advocates have always had much more access to the mass media and the peace advocates who often had the truth on their sides were often turned into the “fringes” or “violators of the law”. Censorship to maintain faith in war is routine and in most cases in history it has been proven after the fact that the wars we fought before were fought on false premises. Censorship should be considered a war crime and a crime in peace as well since the censorship that leads up to the wars are what enable them to happen in the first place.

We are currently fighting a War on Terrorism” based on the assumption, according to some people, that the “terrorists” hate our way of life, freedom and democracy. The first problem with this should be the arbitrary use of the term terrorism. The many of people labeled terrorists have conducted acts that terrorize people in an attempt to accomplish their goals. This cle4arly seems to justify the use of the term in some cases but in many cases they are being labeled terrorist before the facts are in and in other cases other people who use activities that terrorize people aren’t being labeled terrorist because they have been allies of the USA. The USA and the CIA has a long history of dealing with people who used terror to enforce their authority including the Shah of Iran and SAVAK, the Guatemalan government and G2 also known as death squads, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the Guardia that formerly ruled Nicaragua and later5 formed the foundation for the Nicaraguan Contras and many more. In fact many of the people we now call terrorists were once our allies but they weren’t labeled terrorist until they challenged the perceived best interest of the US government.

The current war and most if not all wars have been fought based on lies. If the public had the information they needed and academics with sincere intentions were given equal opportunity to speak we would be in a much better position to fight only the wars, if any, that are truly for a good cause that benefit the public of the western world and the rest of the world as well. If this were the case then we would also be in a better position to settle differences before it came close to the brink of war.

Wars shouldn’t be fought at all unless there is a just cause for it.

Peter A Singer argues that in some cases like the genocide in Rwanda or in Kosovo war may actually be justified if there is reason to believe that intervention would probably do more good than harm and it is done only as a last resort. A strict implementation of these conditions and planning far enough ahead of time would probably be good enough to avoid war but in the cases where this isn’t done and they are on the verge of genocide then the choice may be between to types of disasters. They either intervene, and fight war which is guaranteed to kill hundreds, or thousands of people or they do nothing while perhaps an even larger number of people are killed. This ethical stand isn’t based on solely the best interest of the USA but the best interest of everyone as equals. In many cases this argument is backed up by the propaganda that the USA has often used to fight wars however more often than not when the USA has used this justification in the past it hasn’t been backed up by the facts. For example when the USA invaded Iraq after it was clear, to the public, they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration claimed part of the reason was that they were liberating them but they didn’t take into consideration the best interest of the Iraqi’s while “liberating” them. In the case of Rwanda and Kosovo there is evidence that this could have been done to prevent genocide. Ironically in both these cases there was little political support for what actually was or could have been a humanitarian intervention. In the case of Kosovo there were also questions about how to fight the war as well as whether or not to fight the war. This war was fought by air bombing to avoid any US casualties.

Both Peter A Singer author of "Practical Ethics" and Peter W Singer (no relation), author of “Children at War” and "Wired for War”, have raised doubts about the ethics of this. According to PW singer there is a common joke among the Kosovars that “The life of one NATO soldier is worth 20,000 Kosovars.” This attitude among the western powers has created a lot of resentment in many parts of the world including Kosovo. In many cases this leads to more hatred against America and virtually guarantees that there will be more unnecessary conflict and wars until the USA learns to respect the rights of others as much as the propaganda they feed to their own people claims they do. The gratitude of the Kosovars has been dampened by the fact that they believe the USA and other countries have treated them as second class citizens. If the Kosovars had a vote in the USA or other more powerful countries it is much more likely that the NATO would have used ground forces to reduce the casualties among the Kosovars and other people at risk. Peter A Singer claims that the actual numbers of civilians that were killed were much lower, about 300 Kosovars, 109 Serbs and 3 Chinese; however he still believes that the USA would have been more ethical to use ground forces. It is worth noting that neither Peter A Singer, Peter W Singer nor myself volunteered to fight and possibly die to defend the potential victims of genocide. Those that do volunteer often do so based on false assumptions which often involve indoctrination from an early age. This should raise additional ethical questions about whether or not a large number of people should be indoctrinated from birth to fight wars for the benefit of the ruling class. Without indoctrination it may not be possible to fight many wars even when they are just. If you accept Peter A Singer’s argument that this war should be fought for ethical means based then in order to carry it out in practice it may require having the academics decide who should live or die. This is already happening only the decisions under the current circumstances are usually based on the best interest of the people running the multi-national corporations. Doing it based on ethical reasons would be a step in the right direction but in the long run it would be better to avoid it entirely by setting up a rational social justice system before it comes to war.

Deciding whether or not a war is legitimate or not may also depend on whether or not those that run the country have a legitimate right to be running the country. In the western “democratic” world that right is supposed to be based on the consent of those being governed. This hasn’t happened in practice and won’t until there is a better education system but for now it is better than a dictatorship. Peter A Singer argues that governments that aren’t legitimate shouldn’t be recognized and allowed to sell the natural resources of the country on the world market. An unjust government that is threatening to commit genocide is also more likely to be a legitimate target for intervention in a military conflict. Ideally all governments would be democratic based on the will of an educated public. Until that happens then it should be against the international law to allow tyrants to profit from the natural resources to preserve their power. Tyrants that have done this in the past have often become our enemies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t communicate with them though. In the past when a country isn’t recognized by the USA it often means that we won’t communicate and officially we won’t trade with them. This hasn’t always been the way it works though. For example in the eighties the USA wound up dealing with both Iran, our enemy, and Iraq. Officially there were no relations with Iran but unofficially there were weapons sold to them in return for hostages and the profits were funneled to the Nicaraguan Contra’s. The result is that the communication that could have led to warming of relations didn’t happen but the USA wound up selling weapons to both Iran and Iraq and funneling profits to the contra’s all of which were violent and tyrannical governments. This is a clear indication that the USA isn’t fighting to defend democracy at all.

This isn’t what the American people are being told, or at least they aren’t being told in a manner that will get through to the majority of the public. Instead the majority of the public is receiving a massive amount of propaganda to base their decisions. They are more concerned with promoting what is often called “American Exceptionalism”; if this involved citing the cases where American’s have stood up to authority and included when they stood up to the USA government this might not be so bad. Unfortunately the version of American Exceptionalism being promoted usually involves a strong bias that is controlled by the same people that control the Mass Media. Unless this can be addressed then there can be no sincere rules of war which many people will respect. This is why the rules of war will remain on life support until we have a more accurate perception of reality and base important decisions on accurate facts.

Whether or not we have to fight wars we should make more of an effort to understand them and find out how to avoid them in the future and this should be taught to the general public.

There needs to be a much better effort to teach people what the route causes of war are. One of the biggest route causes of war is the fact that there are so many children being raised in violent environments around the world. This leads to a large amount of children that gr4owe up to be angry adults. There needs to be more done to teach the public about the long term damage of child abuse which I have attempted to address in other entries.

Another major contributing cause to war has often been the excessive influence that multi-national corporations have over politics around the world especially in the USA. The USA is the leading superpower and spends about as much money on military expenses as the rest of the world combined. The USA claims to be a democracy and they claim to be the defender of the free world; however a closer look doesn’t seem to confirm this. The American public hasn’t had the information they need to participate in the most important decisions that need to be made. Instead the people that the politicians consult with tend to be those that donate millions of dollars to political campaigns, high priced lobbyists and the people that control the Mass Media. When the members of the public provide an enormous amount of effort to organize, they often succeed in making small changes; but other than that the vast majority of the decisions are made by those with the political connections and then there is an enormous amount of propaganda presented to the public. In order to set up reasonable rules of war it will be necessary to reform the democracy in the USA and other parts of the world. If the USA wants to be a true defender of democracy they need to start at home by setting a good example and allow more people to participate in decisions both at home and abroad. If they make decisions that affect the whole world they should accept input from the rest of the world instead of dictating the truth as they see it.

As indicated earlier the USA and many other countries indoctrinate a class of people to fight their wars for them. The people who fight the wars are usually the lower classes especially on the front lines where the casualties are the highest. A major part of the way this is done is the fact that the upper classes control the economic system and they set it up so that the lower classes are much less likely to have good opportunities to get ahead without some help from the military. That isn’t how it starts though; war indoctrination starts unintentionally at early childhood. Parents who educate their children using strict disciplinarian tactics without adequate explanation to sort through issues unintentionally lay the ground work for indoctrination. They do this because it is the way they were taught and it is the only way they know how to raise their children. Many of their ancestors have been taught to use these tactics by the leaders of society including religious leaders. Alice Miller and Philip Greven have reviewed the way many religious leaders teach parents to use physical punishment to cause pain in order to control their children and teach them to be obedient to authority. This also makes them angry children ready to strike out. This escalates to bullying and hazing in school. Then when many of them join the military they have to go through boot camp which is designed to reinforce their compliance to authority and make sure that they will follow their new military leaders without question. This doesn’t lead to absolute indoctrination in the modern military for all soldiers but it does for some and it leads to partial indoctrination for others. This indoctrination isn’t limited to indoctrinating the soldier; it also involves indoctrinating a major segment of society. This is influenced by the education or lack of education about many historical subjects that have influenced war in the present. As indicated before the USA has been involved in suppressing many popular movements since WWII in the name of defending democracy but this isn’t what is taught in school. Some researchers like Howard Zinn, author of “The People’s History of the United States”, and James Loewen, author of Lies My teacher Told Me” have done a much better job teaching the public about some of the activities the USA has been involved in but they don’t target the majority of the public. The most powerful institutions that target the majority of the public are all controlled or influenced by the multi-national corporations.

Some of this indoctrination involves using violence to encourage obedience to authority starting at birth and in the most extreme cases this often leads to what Richard Gabriel and James Garbarino have referred to as aggressive psychopathic personalities. There were supposedly about 2% of the soldiers of WWII that had aggressive psychopathic personalities, presumably because they were raised in violent environments according to many researchers. The volume of violence against children has supposedly gone down a lot since WWII therefore the percentage of soldier with aggressive psychopathic personalities has probably also gone down. Some of the officers that were involved in training many of these soldiers for several generations have found that in many cases they had to toughen the new recruits up more later in the twentieth century than they did earlier in the twentieth century including during WWII. This may be an indicator of reduced violence to children but it doesn’t mean that violence against children has been eliminated and it may also be possible that the military recruits from some members of society that are more likely to be raised in strict disciplinarian ways. According to some studies about former WWII veterans these people are the least likely to break down under the stress of war. This is because they are already accustomed to violence and they are comfortable with it. They are also much less likely to feel empathy for others, which makes it much more difficult to control them; they may also strike out violently when they aren’t supposed to. It is very difficult to train people to be violent when and only when they are supposed to; however that is what needs to be done in many cases when we rely on war to solve our problems. When it comes to dealing with the most violent situations in war these people with aggressive psychopathic personalities are often the ones that do the best job; this is why to some degree the military may need them; however you can’t tell the public this if you want to glorify war.

An example of a soldier who went out of control is Steven Green who once told the Washington Post “the truth is, it wasn’t all I thought it was cracked up to be. I mean, I thought killing somebody would be this life-changing experience. And then I did it, and I was like ‘all right, whatever’….Killing people is like squashing an ant. I mean, you kill somebody and it’s like ‘all right let’s go get some pizza.’ “ Green was charged with raping and killing a fourteen year old Iraqi girl he apparently became infatuated with during check point duty. This was supposedly premeditated and he supposedly had a history of mental instability. The fact that he may have had aggressive psychopathic personalities wouldn’t necessarily mean that he couldn’t function in violent situations but it might have meant that he couldn’t control his violence in some peaceful situations. He was discharged before the murder was exposed and two of his fellow soldiers were kidnapped tortured and killed in revenge for this crime. This type of uncontrolled activity leads to unnecessary violence and a constant situation where people are seeking vengeance and both sides tend to downplay the atrocities committed by their own side and exaggerate those committed by the other side. This isn’t the only example of misconduct by far if there was an organized list of all the crimes that were committed by soldiers or former soldiers it would be much easier to tell how much this contributes to future conflicts but the military doesn’t seem to keep such records and present them to the public any more than they keep tack of collateral damage to innocent civilians. This is part of why we can’t prevent many wars from happening over and over again.

In order to have rules of war that prevent future wars and leads to peace we need to have social justice around the world that treats everyone fairly. As long as the multinational corporations control all the most powerful institutions and concern themselves with profit at the expense of everything else there can be no fair rules of war. If the rules of war arte controlled by those running the wars it would be like letting criminals make the rules of justice.

The newest technology being developed is raising even more concerns about how this could affect the rules of war. Peter W Singer reviews some of this in his latest book Wired for War. This book has been described as science fiction and some of it does involve reviewing science fiction but most of it is about technology that has been developed and is being put into practice in the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This book is about sorting out the difference between science fiction and fact. We already have enough problems where the majority of the public are making decisions based on false facts and propaganda given to them by the Mass Media; the new technology being developed makes it even easier for people to fight more wars without have many of the most important facts they need. Some of this technology enables the US military to fight wars from greater distances without risking the lives of their soldiers. This means that in many cases the people doing the killing may not be able to see the damage they’re doing or if they do see it through camera’s from a long distance it seems more like a TV show or video game which seems less real. This makes it easier for people who wouldn’t kill otherwise close up to kill by remote control. It also makes it easier to maintain a constant state of war if the level of people with aggressive psychopathic personalities is being reduced. In some cases the USA has even decided that the right of self defense extends to robots that are patrolling enemy territory when that enemy doesn’t have sufficient political power. This has included Sadam Hussein when he was still controlling Iraq between the two Persian Gulf wars. Some members of the USA government have at time expressed disregard of the right of many other countries so even though most people don’t agree with Sadam Hussein this could lead to a slippery slope if there are no checks and balances. A different situation took place when a pilot in Afghanistan dropped a 500 pound bomb on Canadians conducting night maneuvers and killed four troops and wounde4d eight more. In this case the pilot was found liable for failing to follow procedure but it is much less likely that he would have been found liable if the people killed were Afghans. This double standard continues to lead to animosity. The case of Iran Air Flight 655 is another example of advanced technology going wrong. The plane was considered an “Assumed Enemy” by the computer; however none of the hard data observed by the crew backed this up. None of the eighteen soldiers on board questioned the computers conclusions and they shot it down killing 290 civilians including 66 children. None of the crew members were held accountable and they even received awards at the end of their tour of duty. These awards weren’t because of the incident but it still raises some question of accountability. This is an example of blind obedience to authority that was transferred to a computer. This type of blind obedience may help win wears in the short term but it may also do more to enable bad wars to be fought and to incite future wars that shouldn’t be necessary.

Some of this military technology is already making its hands into private hands including the American border Patrol that has a “Border hawk” to patrol the borders for illegal aliens. The founder of this organization has been accused of racism; he has described illegal immigration as the “Second Mexican American war” and referred to Latin America as “a cesspool of a culture” that threatens the “death of this country.” This drone doesn’t have the ability to shoot and kill by remote control like the ones in the control of the US military; or at least not yet. However it is a matter of time before other organizations get a hold of the technology they need to fight by remote control and unless we can solve social issues and teach people to search for nonviolent ways to solve problem war will only get worse possibly until it leads to a total break down of society.

We already have a complex system where people who purchase goods produced in other parts of the world unintentionally provide funds for some of the most vicious tyrants and enable them to maintain their authority by brute force. Know new technology is making it easier for some people to obtain benefits at the expense of others without realizing the consequences of their actions. This will lead to more breading grounds for terrorists and other people who see the USA as the evil empire. This doesn’t make sense to people living in the USA who don’t know what is going on in the rest of the world but for those that are forced to live with it every day it makes perfect sense. This is already leading to the eternal war predicted in Orwell’s 1984. As long as we are at constant war based on a false perception of reality not only are people unable to make rational decisions about war but they can’t make rational decisions about protecting the environment which could lead to more desperation and more conflict over limited resources.

The organizational structure of the Capitalist ideology also encourages war. Capitalism doesn’t provide as much funds for research and education for nonviolent technology as it does for military research and education. Furthermore the education is controlled in a way that encourages continued war. If academic researchers want grants for their research they have to look mainly to either the government or the corporations. This means that the research has to be designed to either make a profit for the corporations as the first priority or help the military which is the most powerful rese4arch organization the government has. By demonizing “Socialism” and “Communism” without a rational discussion about the details it prevents us from finding out whether or not there is a better way to provide funding for other projects that help the general public without first providing a benefit to the most powerful people controlling the corporations and the military. This doesn’t mean that “Socialism” or “Communism” as they have been practiced are the best way to do things but in order to find out it is necessary to sort through the details and if they have some good ideas then we should adopt the good ideas without the bad instead of rejecting it as a package deal.

If the most powerful governments in the world don’t feel the need to set a good example and support the rules of war then there will be little or no incentive for those that act out of desperation to do so. The USA spends about as much money on the military as the rest of the world combined and they have the most advanced technology yet they are one of the biggest obstacles to many of the treaties to improve the rules of war and they are the biggest abusers of the environment per capita which could inevitably lead to more wars when people have to fight for clean food, water and air. The USA claims to be the leading defender of democracy yet there is a lot of doubt about whether or not they demonstrate this with their actions. To provide an overly simplified example consider the possibility that some one claims he is trying to accomplish a certain goal and he has three options generally speaking. Pursue a course of action that will advance that goal, pursue a course of action that will prevent that goal or take no action that does either one. Consider an example where there is a manager of a hotel on the beach and there is a hurricane coming. He can either do nothing if he doesn’t think the storm is going to be that bad or he can put plywood over the windows to protect them from the wind. When he receives a call from the owner telling him to prepare for the storm by protecting the property he promises to do so. Then later in the day he is seen yelling I’ll protect the property over and over again and each time he throws a rock through a window. Would you believe he was sincere about protecting the property? Now imagine there was an investigation and they find that he was drunk and he found a letter indicating the owner was having an affair with his wife. Would you consider the hypothesis that he acted out of anger after getting drunk more reasonable than the claim that he was trying to protect the property.

The same simple principles could be applied to whether or not the USA is trying to protect democracy around the world after an investigation. If you look at enough sources you may find that the leaders of the USA can’t get elected unless they accept an enormous amount of money from corporate contributors and the Mass Media covers their campaigns. Any candidate that doesn’t do this is referred to as f4ringe by the Mass Media and they have no way to get their message across to the public. The politicians also spend an enormous amount of time with high priced lobbyist most of which work for the biggest corporations in the world. Many of these high priced lobbyists are former politicians implying the possibility that may have a tacit retirement plan making much more money. They come up with one policy after another that provides most of the benefit to the corporations that pay for the campaign contributions and lobbyists. The majority of the public is ignored unless they conduct enormous protests which lead to minor improvements. The campaigns spend little or no time discussing the issues and when they do; they make things so complicated that few people understand them. The USA has a history of invading countries or influencing their elections against the will of the people of those countries and they do little or nothing to educate people; instead they put out an enormous amount of propaganda to support the blind trust in capitalism without understanding it. Under these circumstances do you think it would be more reasonable to believe that the USA is defending democracy or that the USA is using a complicated propaganda machine to support a corporate plutocracy?

In order to have real rules of war that can help lead to peace sincere people that don’t benefit from war need to be involved in making them.

Peter Herby of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) claims there should be four pillars of international humanitarian law on weapons. The first one is essentially that countries should obey the rules. The second is that weapons that can’t distinguish between civilians and military targets should be prohibited. The third that weapons shouldn’t cause unnecessary harm and suffering. The fourth is that any weapons the international community find abhorrent for other reasons should also be banned. This should be considered a reasonable starting point or target. These rules are of course currently being ignored by many of the most powerful countries and the most desperate people. There is little that can be done about the most desperate people unless the social causes that lead to their desperation are addressed. Banning suicide bombing may be politically correct but if someone is suicidal or extremely desperate it is totally unenforceable. The most powerful countries should be another case. They are supposed to be accountable to their people. If this is true and the people can be educated about the truth then they can elect politicians that respect international law and attempt to improve these laws instead of eroding them. In additions to the rules cited by Peter Herby the following could be implemented if there is enough popular support starting with the ones I discussed earlier.

Both sides should abide by the same rules.

Killing the innocent including children and other noncombatants is wrong. If this can’t be avoided completely then the best efforts should be made to reduce or eliminate this as soon as possible.

Torture is wrong and it should be against the rules of war. It has been proven by numerous research efforts that even when it used to gain information it doesn’t do a good job accomplishing this.

Preventing people from telling the truth about many of the most important facts, while simultaneously spreading false information that guarantees that wars will continue to be fought when they could be prevented, is wrong and should be against the rules of war.

Wars shouldn’t be fought at all unless there is a just cause for it.

Whether or not we have to fight wars we should make more of an effort to understand them and find out how to avoid them in the future and this should be taught to the general public.

Landmines, chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear weapons should all be banned.

Efforts to protect the schools and other democratic institutions should be made as early as possible.

Censorship should be banned.

Weapons trade should be heavily regulated and sales to tyrants of any kind should be outlawed.

Efforts by advance countries to train military organizations that aren’t accountable should be banned.

Espionage should be put to an end if possible possibly with the implementation of a truth and education commission so that it won’t involve disclosing information that incites more war instead of ending it.

More efforts should be made to educate the public about true history; this should include peer review from different points of view and the work behind this education including copies of original documents and secondary research should be available to those who have time to check it.

Corporations that have been involved in illegal activities in the past should be held accountable and they should not be allowed to continue to conduct their activities including illegal ones in secrecy in the future. Knowledge should not be available to only one side of the transaction enabling fraud and corruption.

More efforts should be made to reduce child abuse that creates a lot of angry adults ready to fight wars around the world.

First posted on tripod on 4/23/10

For information on the ban on landmines see:

International Committee of the Red Cross: Anti-personnel Landmines

International Committee of the Red Cross: Missing persons

War Child

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

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