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Thread: Is it a war crime to kill cattle?

  1. #1 Is it a war crime to kill cattle? 
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    What if we approached whole villages or tribes in a place like Afghanistan and started punishing them for the actions of their individual members who decide to join the militants that fight us?

    Perhaps we could make a quota of cattle and/or fields we burn every time we identify the corpse of an attacking militant as having originated in that village? Is it a war crime to kill cattle and damage property?

    On the flip side, those villages which have a good record for not sending young men to fight us (or which develop such a record) should receive economic aid. Indeed, something even more interesting would be instead of killing the cattle of the bad villages and/or tribes, to instead seize their cattle and give them to the good villages and/or tribes.


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    One thing I should add is that a third world country's culture is not about "liking" or "disliking" anyone. It's about respect. They don't give tribute to the local warlord because they like him. They give it to him because they respect him, and they know what he's capable of if they don't give him what he considers to be his due.

    They'll respect us too if we presenting tangible, real world, results, instead of babbling on about ideals that won't necessarily ever become reality. A set number of cattle/crops/other wealth taken per infraction (where the "infraction" is allowing a young man to go off to war) is tangible. It's real. It establishes that there's a meaningful correlation between what one does and what happens. If we do it in a calculating, professional, and unemotional manner, then in a way we're kind of showing respect back toward them also.


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    If you were to fine me because my uncle had committed a crime I would view the system that did so to be corrupt and unethical. I would consider it not only appropriate, but obligatory to work to bring about the downfall of such a system, including - if necessary - acts of violence. Does that answer your question?
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    You asked in the OP if such an action would be a 'war crime'.

    If you killed the cattle - or burned the pasture that feeds them which is the same thing, only slower - and that was the prime food source for a civilian population, I reckon you'd at least be on the to-do list for investigation for a war crime prosecution. Most such actions satisfy the technical description of 'war crime' - deliberately inflicting starvation on civilians - but the day that the workload of the tribunals is reduced enough to entertain active prosecution is unlikely to dawn any time soon. They have enough trouble getting their teeth into gross torture and blatant massacres for the time being.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    If you were to fine me because my uncle had committed a crime I would view the system that did so to be corrupt and unethical. I would consider it not only appropriate, but obligatory to work to bring about the downfall of such a system, including - if necessary - acts of violence. Does that answer your question?
    I think this feeling is what makes it so hard for us to understand tribal societies. They're totally backwards to our outlook on life. I get the strong impression that Afghan tribalists find *our* system, of assigning purely individual guilt/merit and rewarding/punishing individuals instead of whole tribal units to be the corrupt one.

    When a tribe does something, they do it by more-or-less unanimous consent, and each member is expected to sacrifice their individual desires to the will of the tribe. If the collective tribe doesn't want a single young man to leave for war, and tells him so, his options are either

    1) - Obey
    2) - Lose his status as a member of the tribe

    And of course, if a young man were to choose option #2 (a very unlikely event), the tribe could simply inform us in advance that he had been disowned, and that they no longer considered him a member of their tribe. If we found evidence that they were lying about this change in status, we could punish them double or something.


    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    You asked in the OP if such an action would be a 'war crime'.

    If you killed the cattle - or burned the pasture that feeds them which is the same thing, only slower - and that was the prime food source for a civilian population, I reckon you'd at least be on the to-do list for investigation for a war crime prosecution. Most such actions satisfy the technical description of 'war crime' - deliberately inflicting starvation on civilians - but the day that the workload of the tribunals is reduced enough to entertain active prosecution is unlikely to dawn any time soon. They have enough trouble getting their teeth into gross torture and blatant massacres for the time being.
    Now the irony: suppose instead of destroying the cattle outright, we seize it as a fine. That would be a legitimate act of taxation/fining if a government undertook it upon its own people. Basically we are demanding that those communities which have taken action to prolong the war, help pay the costs of the very problem they have created.

    If we then redistribute the seized cattle to those villages with better records, then we're not even being greedy. We're just rewarding our friends.

    At that point, cognitive dissonance should kick in. The recipients of the cattle will want to convince themselves that they deserve to keep this cattle that once belonged to their neighbors. That requires them to assign a certain legitimacy in their minds toward the one officiating over the transfer. It's devious, and probably evil, but I can't see a reason why it wouldn't be effective. We'd be dismantling the insurgency from the ground up, by breaking up the very social bonds of common cause that allow these communities to work together against us.
    Last edited by kojax; January 5th, 2012 at 10:33 PM.
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    That's how you tear down a grass roots partisan movement. Present them with an offer they just can't refuse.
    Neat, but very short term. The resentments following such actions can fester for generations or centuries.

    If you remember the Irish and other colonialised countries' complaints in the 20th century about the history of English occupation - I admit the depredations continued in those cases - and in the Balkans conflict, some participants were justifying their attitudes and actions on the basis of stuff that happened in the 14th century.

    The strategy you're proposing is one among dozens available to diplomatic and military strategists. I'd think there must be many that would have a positive result in the short term and less negative in the long term. Maybe even positive there as well. That'd be a win-win if ever there was one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What if we approached whole villages or tribes in a place like Afghanistan and started punishing them for the actions of their individual members who decide to join the militants that fight us?
    We did that in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

    The VC, on the other hand, carefully avoided doing that - such behavior was discouraged, even punished.

    In China, Chiang Kai Shek did that, Mao Tse Tung avoided doing that - expressly proscribed that kind of behavior.

    The question is whether you need people as allies or not. Ho and Mao needed them as allies. Do we?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    The VC, on the other hand, carefully avoided doing that - such behavior was discouraged, even punished.
    Some serious revisionism going on here. Ask the hundreds of civilian including women and children who died at Dak Son.

    --

    I can't think of any cases of a war crime conviction for killing animals (other than human ones). It surely would be a violation of lesser international laws.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What if we approached whole villages or tribes in a place like Afghanistan and started punishing them for the actions of their individual members who decide to join the militants that fight us?
    We did that in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

    The VC, on the other hand, carefully avoided doing that - such behavior was discouraged, even punished.

    In China, Chiang Kai Shek did that, Mao Tse Tung avoided doing that - expressly proscribed that kind of behavior.

    The question is whether you need people as allies or not. Ho and Mao needed them as allies. Do we?
    In Vietnam? If a village leader refused to send young men to join the VC army, the VC were known to go into that village and publicly rape, torture, and kill his wife and any daughters in front of the whole village. The level of brutality expressed by those guys against their own people would stagger you.

    And yet, somehow, the resentment that surely fostered hasn't prevented them from being able to successfully rule the country for decades now. How does one explain that if resentment is such a big issue?

    My best guess: there's respect involved. They may not agree with the VC, but they can respect them. I think respect can take the place of love also, and so we're going about everything from the wrong angle by trying to win everybody's "hearts and minds". It's a waste of time.
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    How does one explain that if resentment is such a big issue?
    My best guess: there's respect involved. They may not agree with the VC, but they can respect them.
    You may be right. Even if you are right there's a big caveat. It makes a biiiig difference whether it's one of your own or someone regarded as an outsider.

    This is true even at the small scale level of families, streets, neighbourhoods, schools. You might hate your big sister or the school bully or whatever who lives near you. But when it comes time for someone else to attack your family or play sport against your school or insult your suburb, you stand shoulder to shoulder.

    'One of us' or us against them. Makes a big difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What if we approached whole villages or tribes in a place like Afghanistan and started punishing them for the actions of their individual members who decide to join the militants that fight us?
    We did that in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

    The VC, on the other hand, carefully avoided doing that - such behavior was discouraged, even punished.

    In China, Chiang Kai Shek did that, Mao Tse Tung avoided doing that - expressly proscribed that kind of behavior.

    The question is whether you need people as allies or not. Ho and Mao needed them as allies. Do we?
    Some big time revisionism going on here. Mao came to power by means of a siege in which 160000 civilians were starved to death.

    In 1948, under direct orders from Mao, the People’s Liberation Army starved out the Kuomintang forces occupying the city of Changchun. At least 160,000 civilians are believed to have perished during the siege, which lasted from June until October. PLA lieutenant colonel Zhang Zhenglu, who documented the siege in his book White Snow, Red Blood, compared it to Hiroshima: “The casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took five months.”[
    Mao Zedong - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    How does one explain that if resentment is such a big issue?
    My best guess: there's respect involved. They may not agree with the VC, but they can respect them.
    You may be right. Even if you are right there's a big caveat. It makes a biiiig difference whether it's one of your own or someone regarded as an outsider.

    This is true even at the small scale level of families, streets, neighbourhoods, schools. You might hate your big sister or the school bully or whatever who lives near you. But when it comes time for someone else to attack your family or play sport against your school or insult your suburb, you stand shoulder to shoulder.

    'One of us' or us against them. Makes a big difference.
    That's part of the beauty of it. The recipients of the cattle are effectively the ones responsible. They could (in theory) return the ill gotten cattle to their owners, but I'm betting they won't.

    If they did return the cattle, that would be so noble and inspiring, you'd almost want to see the USA simply call the war off after seeing that.
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    I dont think so,in the processing app of it but if you kill someone's cattle depending on where you lived could have great reactions and maybe death.In the U.S. where fixing to start killing horses for food..yum,yum horse burgers anyone?;}
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    The VC, on the other hand, carefully avoided doing that - such behavior was discouraged, even punished.


    Some serious revisionism going on here. Ask the hundreds of civilian including women and children who died at Dak Son.
    The massacre was of about one in eight of the population of a village of Montagnards, already enemies of the Viet Cong, actively fighting the Viet Cong. And it was a war crime anyway - no question.

    And such massacres were discouraged (especially among the Vietnamese themselves) by training and policy, and consequently uncommon and notable. This contrasts with the aerial bombardment and other policies of the US then, which were taken for granted and carried out over wide areas of three countries for weeks at a time and years of war.

    That kind of doing is what is being questioned, here, as a war crime.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    In Vietnam? If a village leader refused to send young men to join the VC army, the VC were known to go into that village and publicly rape, torture, and kill his wife and any daughters in front of the whole village. The level of brutality expressed by those guys against their own people would stagger you.
    Even granting a core of fact in the exaggerated implications of that (the VC could not have fought as they did with an army of unwilling recruits drafted by such means) the particular headman's family is one matter - the cattle (or families) of the whole village are another matter. Especially with justification of some sort - the cause made clear.

    Machiavelli warned against depriving people of property or otherwise injuring, especially en masse - advising the prince to kill specifically (even unjustly) rather than cripple or impoverish generally - more easily forgotten or forgiven.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    And yet, somehow, the resentment that surely fostered hasn't prevented them from being able to successfully rule the country for decades now. How does one explain that if resentment is such a big issue?
    You live in a country's aftermath of a terrible civil war, yourself. How does one explain the successful US governance of - say - Georgia, by the same US government that did what Sherman did to Atlanta?

    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Some big time revisionism going on here. Mao came to power by means of a siege in which 160000 civilians were starved to death.
    No one is talking about sieges and battles here, with civilians and cattle trapped in the middle of actual military conflict.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Some big time revisionism going on here. Mao came to power by means of a siege in which 160000 civilians were starved to death.
    No one is talking about sieges and battles here, with civilians and cattle trapped in the middle of actual military conflict.
    You did for sure.
    Quote Originally Posted by ice
    We did that in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

    The VC, on the other hand, carefully avoided doing that - such behavior was discouraged, even punished.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; January 17th, 2012 at 01:09 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    No one is talking about sieges and battles here, with civilians and cattle trapped in the middle of actual military conflict.

    You did for sure.
    No, I didn't.

    I accused the US of killing cattle and civilians, by aerial bombardment, as a matter of policy, during the Veitnam War. I contrasted this with the VC (and North Veitnamese) policies of not doing such things.
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    And we were supposed to infer that you meant to compare when the US was a war as opposed to when the VC were not at war?

    Or perhaps, we were supposed to take your statement extremely narrowly, as if it only applied to aerial events, and ignore that the VC barely had any aerial capability.

    Either conclusion is quite obsurd when you look at the context of the discussion. You made an ignorant statement painting the VC as some sort of moral superiority that treated people better than the "evil Americans." You are factually wrong--the VC as a matter of policy and in many examples were just as ruthless, perhaps more so. Mao was worse than either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    And we were supposed to infer that you meant to compare when the US was a war as opposed to when the VC were not at war?
    You were not expected to do anything other than what you did - purposefully misread plain English prose.
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    Myself and others Ice. If we all misunderstood you, and appearently no one else actually understood you, than perhaps it is you who should write clearer. Think about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Myself and others Ice. If we all misunderstood you, and appearently no one else actually understood you, than perhaps it is you who should write clearer.
    I'm not going to bother chasing that rabbit.

    You guys are nothing if not obvious with this stupid schtick, and it's boring enough without longwinded attempts by me to forestall the unstallable.

    You should, however, as a matter of self-respect, avoid this:
    You made an ignorant statement painting the VC as some sort of moral superiority that treated people better than the "evil Americans."
    Take the quotes off, own your ugly little rewritten goad.

    Consider the OP: the thread is about the war crime status of killing cattle. The US killed cattle wholesale, over large areas of three countries, as a matter of policy, during the Vietnam War. Their foes did not. That gives us a real world example of the issue at hand. It provides a situation and motive behind actual killing of cattle, a very similar situation (the same one) in which combatants avoid killing cattle, and an historical context we can examine. That's good, right? A contribution to the thread?
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    The US killed cattle wholesale, over large areas of three countries, as a matter of policy, during the Vietnam War. Their foes did not
    So now you extend it from merely the VC, an insurgent guerrilla force with little capability to do grand scale anything, but which in the example already shown razed an entire villege including the livestock, to "foes" which of course would now include the North Vietnamese Army.

    Fully blown insurgent wars often get very ugly Vietnam was no different. If you are against a respective side to the point you can not be influenced to join, than you are often subject to the worse atrocities by the side you oppose. In the city of Hue alone the NVA killed almost 3000 civilians, many of them found in mass graves.

    Ow and while your at it, can you please link to that so call policy of "killed cattle wholesale, over large areas of three countries?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    So now you extend it from merely the VC, an insurgent guerrilla force with little capability to do grand scale anything, but which in the example already shown razed an entire villege including the livestock, to "foes" which of course would now include the North Vietnamese Army.
    If you won't read my posts, try the OP, for a clue about the subject of discussion here.

    As far as the years of carpet bombing of agrarian civilization in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam - that's common knowledge, and you already know about it. The most heavily bombed landscape in history, almost none of it urban - the range of possible strategical objectives is small. And the fact that the enemy forces in that landscape did no such destruction, is likewise simple observation.

    So we have an example, a lot of information about context etc, and an OP topic to discuss.
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    Dude your the one still broadening it far past the OP. You went from VC to NVA. Now, because in reality you can't find any policy about killing cows across three countries, you're into strategic bombing--as if they were their purpose.

    Range of possible strategical objectives is small.
    No it isn't. And cows weren't part of those objectives.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post


    Machiavelli warned against depriving people of property or otherwise injuring, especially en masse - advising the prince to kill specifically (even unjustly) rather than cripple or impoverish generally - more easily forgotten or forgiven.
    Interesting point. It's true the dead "don't need it anymore". If you kill each peasant you seize property from then no one is left alive who remembers being robbed. Perhaps their story dies with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    And yet, somehow, the resentment that surely fostered hasn't prevented them from being able to successfully rule the country for decades now. How does one explain that if resentment is such a big issue?
    You live in a country's aftermath of a terrible civil war, yourself. How does one explain the successful US governance of - say - Georgia, by the same US government that did what Sherman did to Atlanta?
    And Sherman primarily targeted property, rather than life. Maybe he would be better remembered if he had also massacred the citizens of all those cities he burned down, due to selective memory?


    Quote Originally Posted by harold
    Some big time revisionism going on here. Mao came to power by means of a siege in which 160000 civilians were starved to death.
    No one is talking about sieges and battles here, with civilians and cattle trapped in the middle of actual military conflict.
    It would be a good idea to be clear what you mean when you talk about VC policies, then. While the VC certainly seized cattle to provide themselves with food for their armies, they probably didn't use disproportionate seizure as a threat against villages that didn't support them. Instead they just brutally slaughtered and/or tortured them into submission.

    So, is the idea you're suggesting, that seizing/destroying of property from troublesome villages, while not technically a war crime, would cause greater blow back and resentment than killing the villagers? (Which most definitely is a war crime).

    And yet the result reverses if the aggressive body doing the seizing of property is one of our own. In the USA, a crime that carries the penalty of a fine is considered a minor offense. While capital punishment is so taboo that many states have forbidden the practice.
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    LOAC Defined

    The LOAC arises from a desire among civilized nations to prevent unnecessary suffering and destruction while not impeding the effective waging of war. A part of public international law, LOAC regulates the conduct of armed hostilities. It also aims to protect civilians, prisoners of war, the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked. LOAC applies to international armed conflicts and in the conduct of military operations and related activities in armed conflict, however such conflicts are characterized.
    LOAC Policy

    DoDD 5100.77, DoD Law of War Program, requires each military department to design a program that ensures LOAC observance, prevents LOAC violations, ensures prompt reporting of alleged LOAC violations, appropriately trains all forces in LOAC, and completes a legal review of new weapons. Although some of the services often refer to LOAC as the law of war (LOW), within this this article LOAC and LOW are the same. LOAC training is a treaty obligation of the United States under provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The training should be of a general nature; however, certain groups such as aircrews, special forces, special operations, infantry, medical personnel, and security forces, etc., receive additional, specialized training that addresses the unique issues they may encounter.
    International and Domestic Law

    LOAC comes from both customary international law and treaties. Customary international law, based on practice that nations have come to accept as legally required, establishes the traditional rules that govern the conduct of military operations in armed conflict. Article VI of the US Constitution states that treaty obligations of the United States are the “supreme law of the land,” and the US Supreme Court has held that international law, to include custom, are part of US law. This means that treaties and agreements the United States enters into enjoy equal status as laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. Therefore, all persons subject to US law must observe the United States’ LOAC obligations. In particular, military personnel must consider LOAC to plan and execute operations and must obey LOAC in combat. Those who violate LOAC may be held criminally liable for war crimes and court-martialed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
    Principles

    Three important LOAC principles govern armed conflict—military necessity, distinction, and proportionality.
    Military Necessity. Military necessity requires combat forces to engage in only those acts necessary to accomplish a legitimate military objective. Attacks shall be limited strictly to military objectives. In applying military necessity to targeting, the rule generally means the United States Military may target those facilities, equipment, and forces which, if destroyed, would lead as quickly as possible to the enemy’s partial or complete submission.
    As an example of compliance with the principle of military necessity during Operation Desert Storm, consider our targeting and destruction of Iraqi SCUD missile batteries and of Iraqi army and air forces. These actions quickly achieved air superiority and hastened the Iraqi military’s defeat.
    Military necessity also applies to weapons review. AFI 51-402, Weapons Review, requires the Air Force to perform a legal review of all weapons and weapons systems intended to meet a military requirement. These reviews ensure the United States complies with its international obligations, especially those relating to the LOAC, and it helps military planners ensure military personnel do not use weapons or weapons systems that violate international law. Illegal arms for combat include poison weapons and expanding hollow point bullets in armed conflict. Even lawful weapons may require some restrictions on their use in particular circumstances to increase compliance with the LOAC.Distinction. Distinction means discriminating between lawful combatant targets and noncombatant targets such as civilians, civilian property, POWs, and wounded personnel who are out of combat. The central idea of distinction is to only engage valid military targets. An indiscriminate attack is one that strikes military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. Distinction requires defenders to separate military objects from civilian objects to the maximum extent feasible. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to locate a hospital or POW camp next to an ammunition factory. I hope this post helps.This is for the United States
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It would be a good idea to be clear what you mean when you talk about VC policies, then. While the VC certainly seized cattle to provide themselves with food for their armies, they probably didn't use disproportionate seizure as a threat against villages that didn't support them. Instead they just brutally slaughtered and/or tortured them into submission.
    The VC did not slaughter and/or torture villages that didn't support them, as a matter of policy, as far as anyone knows - it's hard to tell, because they did not in fact slaughter and/or torture very many villages. It's possible they would have slaughtered and/or tortured quite a bit more, if they hadn't been so willingly and universally supported, or some such contingency, but how to tell?

    No one can fight a decade of guerrilla war against an overwhelming occupying military without a lot of community support. And without power and impunity, no one can get that support by slaughter and/or torture.

    The US, on the other hand, laid waste to entire landscapes, drove hundreds of thousands of people into refugee camps by bombing their farms and homes, blasted places like the Plain of Jars with bomb tonnages never before seen on the planet.

    And specifically, the US killed domestic livestock, especially cattle. This was not an accident, this was an aspect of the strategy of denying the landscape and depopulating the community so that landscape - those people and those villages - could no longer support the enemy. The VC did not do this, and the NVA did not do this. Chiang Kai Shek did that sort of thing, Mao did not. We're talking policy, here, not the existence of individual atrocity. We are not comparing My Lai to Dak Son - those are war crimes and no one is arguing about them.

    Was the US killing of cattle by massive aerial bombardment in Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam, a war crime? That's a question directly relevant to the OP.
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    The VC did not slaughter and/or torture villages that didn't support them, as a matter of policy, as far as anyone knows - it's hard to tell, because they did not in fact slaughter and/or torture very many villages. It's possible they would have slaughtered and/or tortured quite a bit more, if they hadn't been so willingly and universally supported, or some such contingency, but how to tell?
    Policy is hard to say, since we don't know what their commanders were thinking. Many US POW's were tortured and then made to give "confessions" publicly for propaganda purposes. That was almost certainly an official decision by the higher ups.


    No one can fight a decade of guerrilla war against an overwhelming occupying military without a lot of community support. And without power and impunity, no one can get that support by slaughter and/or torture.
    I think you're ignoring the ghettos in the USA. Gangs rule those places with an iron fist, plenty of torture and merciless killing involved. I think you're underestimating the power of fear. And the "we'll remember you after this conflict is over and the USA is gone" threat.



    The US, on the other hand, laid waste to entire landscapes, drove hundreds of thousands of people into refugee camps by bombing their farms and homes, blasted places like the Plain of Jars with bomb tonnages never before seen on the planet.

    And specifically, the US killed domestic livestock, especially cattle. This was not an accident, this was an aspect of the strategy of denying the landscape and depopulating the community so that landscape - those people and those villages - could no longer support the enemy. The VC did not do this, and the NVA did not do this. Chiang Kai Shek did that sort of thing, Mao did not. We're talking policy, here, not the existence of individual atrocity. We are not comparing My Lai to Dak Son - those are war crimes and no one is arguing about them.

    Was the US killing of cattle by massive aerial bombardment in Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam, a war crime? That's a question directly relevant to the OP.
    It was Nixon's "Mad Man" theory of war. He was basically attempting nuclear brinkmanship by pushing as close as he could to the limit of diplomatic tolerance. It totally failed. You're definitely right about that.

    Madman theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Key Issues: Nuclear Weapons: History: Cold War: Strategy: Nixon's "Madman Theory"

    Now can you try and relate the issue back to the OP? What do you predict would happen if soldiers marched into villages, announced to the village the identity of the insurgent who had provoke them, described to them the USA's policy on punishing villages that send soldiers to fight them, stated an exact number of cattle to be seized, and then marched out with that amount of cattle?

    Presuming that the amount of cattle seized per insurgent was a reasonable amount the village might be able to spare (for a single offense), would the villagers:

    A) - Decide to discourage their young men from going.

    B) - Get angry and go for broke by sending all of their young men?
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Policy is hard to say, since we don't know what their commanders were thinking.
    We know what they were supposed to be thinking - political indoctrination was very important to them, starting with the preparation for the revolt against the French. And we know that their actions did match what they were supposed to be thinking.

    Policy is in general one of the more easily observed features of historical political event.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It was Nixon's "Mad Man" theory of war.
    No, it wasn't. It was US policy for almost the entire length of the war - ten or eleven years of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Now can you try and relate the issue back to the OP?
    It would seem to be directly and obviously related without further ado - it's an example of purposeful cattle killing during war. Was it a war crime?

    There's a long history of US forces doing things like that. If we recall that the Vietnamese were often referred to as "Indians", we can draw a parallel with the slaughter of the buffalo by the US to drive the Plains Indians into reservations. War crime?

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I think you're ignoring the ghettos in the USA. Gangs rule those places with an iron fist, plenty of torture and merciless killing involved. I think you're underestimating the power of fear.
    Any gang that actually attempted revolt against the government would get squashed like a bug. Organized crime works within the framework of the sitting government.
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    It was Nixon's "Mad Man" theory of war.
    No, it wasn't. It was US policy for almost the entire length of the war - ten or eleven years of it.
    The most severe examples happened under him. For example, the massive and senseless bombing of Cambodia was under Nixon's orders.

    Cambodian Campaign - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Now can you try and relate the issue back to the OP?
    It would seem to be directly and obviously related without further ado - it's an example of purposeful cattle killing during war. Was it a war crime?

    There's a long history of US forces doing things like that. If we recall that the Vietnamese were often referred to as "Indians", we can draw a parallel with the slaughter of the buffalo by the US to drive the Plains Indians into reservations. War crime?
    Yeah. I was starting to think about the buffalo too. That is a good point.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I think you're ignoring the ghettos in the USA. Gangs rule those places with an iron fist, plenty of torture and merciless killing involved. I think you're underestimating the power of fear.
    Any gang that actually attempted revolt against the government would get squashed like a bug. Organized crime works within the framework of the sitting government.
    Afghanistan doesn't have a sitting government.

    Besides, I wasn't talking about the government adhering to the rule of gangs. Clearly it does not do this. But the people who live in those ghettos follow whatever rules the gangs put on them whether officially or unofficially. I doubt it's because they like having gangs boss them around. But it's very difficult for the police to get witnesses to testify about anything that happens there. That's the first line of community support that an insurgency needs as well. After that, anything else they need they can just seize, being as how they have guns and the peasants don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That's the first line of community support that an insurgency needs as well. After that, anything else they need they can just seize, being as how they have guns and the peasants don't
    In the Vietnam war, the peasants could obtain guns, training, and even air support, from the world's preeminent military force, for the asking - the local armed forces allied with the US were every bit as numerous and rather better equipped than the VC, and had recourse to all the same tactics of intimidation etc. Which they used, but without anything like the alleged effect.

    They lacked community support. Whether that had something to do with the US tactics, including the one we are discussing (destroying the rural economy by way of cattle killing among other approaches), is another topic. The current topic is whether the US policy of wholesale devastation of local economies and civilian lives, in particular cattle killing (cattle were draft power, recall, as well as food and fertilizer and so forth), was a war crime.

    The question was asked in the abstract, and this makes a concrete example which may prove useful.
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    Perhaps the problem in Vietnam, then, is that no attempt was really made to establish a connection between a village's behavior and the number cattle they were likely to lose as a result of that behavior. It was essentially random. There was no action the village could choose to undertake that would be guaranteed to prevent more of their cattle being destroyed (except to push the Americans out.)

    What I am proposing is that a specific number of cattle be destroyed and/or seized per insurgent found to have originated in a village. A village from which no insurgents were emerging would be 100% safe from having any of its cattle destroyed/seized.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    The VC did not slaughter and/or torture villages that didn't support them, as a matter of policy, as far as anyone knows - it's hard to tell, because they did not in fact slaughter and/or torture very many villages. It's possible they would have slaughtered and/or tortured quite a bit more, if they hadn't been so willingly and universally supported, or some such contingency, but how to tell?
    Policy is hard to say, since we don't know what their commanders were thinking. Many US POW's were tortured and then made to give "confessions" publicly for propaganda purposes. That was almost certainly an official decision by the higher ups.


    No one can fight a decade of guerrilla war against an overwhelming occupying military without a lot of community support. And without power and impunity, no one can get that support by slaughter and/or torture.
    I think you're ignoring the ghettos in the USA. Gangs rule those places with an iron fist, plenty of torture and merciless killing involved. I think you're underestimating the power of fear. And the "we'll remember you after this conflict is over and the USA is gone" threat.



    The US, on the other hand, laid waste to entire landscapes, drove hundreds of thousands of people into refugee camps by bombing their farms and homes, blasted places like the Plain of Jars with bomb tonnages never before seen on the planet.

    And specifically, the US killed domestic livestock, especially cattle. This was not an accident, this was an aspect of the strategy of denying the landscape and depopulating the community so that landscape - those people and those villages - could no longer support the enemy. The VC did not do this, and the NVA did not do this. Chiang Kai Shek did that sort of thing, Mao did not. We're talking policy, here, not the existence of individual atrocity. We are not comparing My Lai to Dak Son - those are war crimes and no one is arguing about them.

    Was the US killing of cattle by massive aerial bombardment in Laos, Cambodia, and Viet Nam, a war crime? That's a question directly relevant to the OP.
    It was Nixon's "Mad Man" theory of war. He was basically attempting nuclear brinkmanship by pushing as close as he could to the limit of diplomatic tolerance. It totally failed. You're definitely right about that.

    Madman theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Key Issues: Nuclear Weapons: History: Cold War: Strategy: Nixon's "Madman Theory"

    Now can you try and relate the issue back to the OP? What do you predict would happen if soldiers marched into villages, announced to the village the identity of the insurgent who had provoke them, described to them the USA's policy on punishing villages that send soldiers to fight them, stated an exact number of cattle to be seized, and then marched out with that amount of cattle?

    Presuming that the amount of cattle seized per insurgent was a reasonable amount the village might be able to spare (for a single offense), would the villagers:

    A) - Decide to discourage their young men from going.

    B) - Get angry and go for broke by sending all of their young men?
    The vietnam war was on terms a tropical war field with no distinction of human civilazion amongst the foilage,The only combatant we had for this was Agent Orange and bombs needless to say both didnt work ...lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What I am proposing is that a specific number of cattle be destroyed and/or seized per insurgent found to have originated in a village. A village from which no insurgents were emerging would be 100% safe from having any of its cattle destroyed/seized.
    That's been tried, sometimes even with temporary success, by many of the famous tyrants of history.

    So was the killing of cattle by the US in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, a war crime?
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    for iceaura.January 23rd, 2012, 04.31pm ( your post ). ""so was the killing of cattle by the US. in Vietnam etc a war crime? "". I would have thought that this application of aggressive behaviour, ie; taking out food supply, ( the cattle ), could be compared with the North Atlantic Convoy(s) in the first years of the 2WW. German submarines were doing exactly the same thing for the same reasons. No mention then, or later, of this action being a War Crime. westwind.
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    I suppose the challenge would be choosing the right number of cattle, so the penalty is neither too light, nor too severe. Adding to the difficulty is the problem of some villages being more prosperous than others. So probably some could afford to part with more cattle.

    We don't want to reduce an entire village to utter desperation over a single offense.
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    I don't think it is a war crime but it isnt morally right, who knows how many women and children depend on it
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