Previous posts in this discussion:
PostIs the Bombing of Civilians an Act of Terrorism? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 09/19/19 3:58 am)
Recent WAIS discussion on the indiscriminate bombing of civilians reminded me of a previous discussion about terrorism and "legitimate" fighting in a war.
In that discussion we dared to define terrorism as when violence is exerted deliberately on the civilian population. I also mentioned that state terrorism is one type of terrorism, which in fact is the use of illegitimate methods to produce fear or terror among the civilian population.
In this context, indiscriminate bombing in WWII, or any other conflict (Vietnam, Korea, Gulf War, etc.), regardless of whether the Allies or the Axis started this kind of violence, is merely terrorism, including the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Attempts to justify and legitimate these actions are vain and useless.
State terrorism in modern times is perhaps more sophisticated and subtle, particularly with the role of social networks, fake news, etc., but unfortunately many places still continue to practice "classic" physical violence and repression.
JE comments: For the sake of argument, a couple of questions: 1) Is there any meaningful way to distinguish between "civilian" and "military" targets, especially in the context of asymmetrical or non-traditional warfare? 2) At least since the times of Sherman, the whole point of warfare is to exert maximum economic and emotional pain on the other side. Chivalrously limiting your violence to uniformed enemies (according to this thinking) only prolongs a war.
Is Asymmetrical Warfare Always an Act of Terrorism?
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
09/20/19 2:56 AM)
Following the excellent post of José Ignacio Soler (September 19th) and the comments from our wise and attentive moderator, I would like to add a few observations:
1) Asymmetrical or non-traditional warfare should be broken down without any ifs, ands or buts.
Any nation that supports asymmetrical or non-traditional warfare (as the so-much-praised criminal resistance of WWII or the attack on New York of 9/11) should be considered a non-civilized country not adhering to the International Conventions:
2) General William T. Sherman was a bloody criminal, period.
Chivalrously limiting violence to uniformed enemies means that fighting them is correct, but as soon as the enemies are unable to fight back because wounded or prisoners, they should be treated as equals, as they too were doing their duty.
I already mentioned my father enjoyed inviting captured British officer prisoners to dinner during the war in Libya.
It should not be difficult to distinguish between "civilian" and "military" targets.
Towns are definitely civilian, while the military targets are those handled by military personnel. However we should consider industries that support the war effort to be of military interest. This would include ports and roads/railways, but a civilian train should not be attacked. (Remember the case in Serbia 12 April 1999 and the ridiculous self-defense of General Clark?) Also, no hospital ships should be attacked. During WWII 8 Italian hospital ships (Navi Bianche) were sunk and 5 damaged by the Allies. This was a crime.
One of these ships, the California, was sunk at anchor during the night of 10 August 1941. She was not with all lights on as required, therefore unfortunately, she was wrong and I cannot fault the pilot of the British bomber.
About chivalry, after the Battle of Cape Matapan (28 March 1941), the victorious British Admiral called the Italian White Ships to rescue the shipwrecked Italians of the sunken ships, giving the correct positions, as he could not stop to rescue them, as he was being attacked by German planes. Glory to Andrew Cunningham.
A tragic irony of this battle: the three Italian heavy cruisers that were lost were named for the Italian towns of Zara, Fiume and Pola and at the end of the war the Diktat (Peace Treaty) gave all three towns to Yugoslavia.
Going back to my post and John E's comments, here are my answers:
No, the anti-aircraft defenders of Savona did not make false claims about planes shot down, but there were very few cases of planes apparently shot down and falling into the sea. This was the source of the joke.
Just some time ago not far away from Savona a sub found the wreck of an Allied airplane. The sea around Italy is full of wrecks from the time of the Roman Empire, all the way to WWII.
JE comments: I do try to be attentive, Eugenio, but wise? You are very kind. I'm still at a loss as to how a weak group can carry a "fair" fight to the strong. Perhaps it's because we Americans started out as sneaky fighters against the British? We've all seen pictures of the Minutemen hiding behind trees and taking pot-shots at the tidily arrayed Redcoats. We schoolchildren would laugh at the foolishness of the British. "Asymmetrical" was too hard a word for us to understand.