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Gah
08-18-2011, 07:37 AM
We need a section in the site dedicated at cities in ruins to assert the consequences of war. I see one here and there in different sections but not a systematic view of the cities. Let us begin with Berlin!

Aaron Tovish
01-14-2016, 04:21 AM
I second this emotion!
I work for Mayors for Peace (employed by the City of Hiroshima). We are launching a project: "Cities Are Not Targets!" But, of course, cities have been targets and still are. We are in a five-year period of commemorating the 100th anniversary of WWI events and the 75th of WWII. We want to highlight the consequences of cities scourged by war -- through assaults, sieges, and occupations. We need a photo resource with images of as many different cities as possible. Is there a comparable site for WWI and for other wars in the last 100 years?
I am new to this site. What is the best way to get as many as people as possible working in a dedicated way on this important project?

Rising Sun*
01-14-2016, 05:21 AM
I work for Mayors for Peace (employed by the City of Hiroshima). We are launching a project: "Cities Are Not Targets!"

Commendable project, but what makes cities so special?

Is it okay to bomb / shell /otherwise destroy towns, villages, hamlets, small settlements, and isolated civilian dwellings?

"Civilians are not targets" seems more apposite, assuming that the motivation for the project is to protect innocent civilians rather than buildings, roads, power poles, railways, etc.

Aaron Tovish
02-02-2016, 09:49 AM
Commendable project, but what makes cities so special?

Is it okay to bomb / shell /otherwise destroy towns, villages, hamlets, small settlements, and isolated civilian dwellings?

"Civilians are not targets" seems more apposite, assuming that the motivation for the project is to protect innocent civilians rather than buildings, roads, power poles, railways, etc.

This is a question I often get; and this is the response I give:
First, I point out the illogical nature of assuming that if it is not OK to do one thing, it is "therefore" OK to do any other thing.
Second, decisions on how to interpret and apply International Humanitarian Law are often political. Military leaders often hold considerable sway over political leaders (sometimes outright control of the government). Although occasionally the military leaders are better than the political leaders, there is more generally the need for an organized political counterweight to just giving the military a free hand. City leaders can be more effectively mobilized to play that role than, say, hamlet leaders. (Just the way that unions got started in heavy industry.)
Third, the concern that if military forces are required to "go more gently" in cities will just make them "ride rough shod" on the countryside is misplaced. Cities represent probably the most challenging environment in which to apply force. As they adapt their practices to more fully respect IHL, this would more likely than not benefit the countryside as well.
In short, this is not the final answer to the scourge of war, but it is an effective approach to getting a grip on the problem.
Now, would you like to help? (Or more power to you, if you want to organize the farmlands!)
Regarding infrastructure, it is essential to protect it as well. Lives (and livelihoods, viz refugees) depend on functions infrastructure. IHL recognizes this as well.

tankgeezer
02-02-2016, 02:07 PM
*****

Aaron Tovish
02-02-2016, 03:18 PM
*****

Thank you. But I was not able to open the attachment. Can you? If so, please tell me what I need to do. If not, please try attaching whatever it is again. Thanks!

tankgeezer
02-02-2016, 05:41 PM
Thank you. But I was not able to open the attachment. Can you? If so, please tell me what I need to do. If not, please try attaching whatever it is again. Thanks!

It is an emoticon of a person eating popcorn. Generally used to express curiosity as to what will come next.

Rising Sun*
02-03-2016, 06:47 AM
This is a question I often get; and this is the response I give:
First, I point out the illogical nature of assuming that if it is not OK to do one thing, it is "therefore" OK to do any other thing.

Your focus on cities is considerably narrower than the international humanitarian law you wish to be upheld, and illogical to pursue in light of that law.


Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.

Protection of the civilian population

Article 51 -- Protection of the civilian population

.....

4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

(a) those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

(b) those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

(c) those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.

5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate:

(a) an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects.


Second, decisions on how to interpret and apply International Humanitarian Law are often political. Military leaders often hold considerable sway over political leaders (sometimes outright control of the government). Although occasionally the military leaders are better than the political leaders, there is more generally the need for an organized political counterweight to just giving the military a free hand. City leaders can be more effectively mobilized to play that role than, say, hamlet leaders.

So the Mayor of Hiroshima in 1945 would have been better placed than, say, the mayor of some small regional town in Japan, to discourage the Americans from dropping a nuclear bomb on his city? Or the Mayor of New York City would have been able to stop his nation's forces bombing Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo and many other cities in Japan 1944-45, on the impossible assumption that he would have been completely opposed to his nation's determination to force Japan to surrender?

Or, currently, the Mayor of Mosul would have been able to stop ISIS taking his city?

And so on.



Third, the concern that if military forces are required to "go more gently" in cities will just make them "ride rough shod" on the countryside is misplaced. Cities represent probably the most challenging environment in which to apply force. As they adapt their practices to more fully respect IHL, this would more likely than not benefit the countryside as well.

The military approaches to most cities are across countryside, unless they are coastal cities or, for the first time in history, an invader chooses to waste vast numbers of paratroops or airborne troops to land within the city.

Armies approaching cities across countryside are not noted for going gently there, never mind going gently in cities.


In short, this is not the final answer to the scourge of war, but it is an effective approach to getting a grip on the problem.

I disagree.

I think it's a waste of effort to focus on cities in isolation from the real problem, which is war.


Now, would you like to help?

No.

I think it's a waste of effort to focus on cities in isolation from the real problem, which is war.


(Or more power to you, if you want to organize the farmlands!)

I don't.

I think it's a waste of effort to focus on the countryside in isolation from the real problem, which is war.


Regarding infrastructure, it is essential to protect it as well. Lives (and livelihoods, viz refugees) depend on functions infrastructure. IHL recognizes this as well.

True.

And international law in all its forms since the post WWII conventions, along with the United Nations, has been spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting anything and anybody from a determined aggressor or defender. Witness, as but one example, the endless chaos in Lebanon. As were the previous international laws useless in stopping WWI, the Spanish Civil War, the Italian adventures in Africa, the Japanese invasion of China, WWII, and so on.

The best protection for civilians is usually afforded by a superior military force on their side.

That's not a reason not to have international humanitarian laws or laws of war, any more than the continuance of murder and theft are reasons not to have laws against them in civil society, but domestic criminal laws without the means to enforce them by police are as useless as international laws which cannot or will not be enforced by military force.

Aaron Tovish
02-03-2016, 10:29 AM
Your focus on cities is considerably narrower than the international humanitarian law you wish to be upheld, and illogical to pursue in light of that law.

[REPLY] Isn't it in the very nature of focusing to be narrower? The point is to concentrate effort to have the greatest impact. There is a host of IHL about use of force in 'populated areas'. In 99 cases out of 100, 'populated areas' means cities and towns. But our approach is also wider, we believe that IHL needs, not only to be respected and enforced, but also to be strengthened. We will be working with INEW on that.



So the Mayor of Hiroshima in 1945 would have been better placed than, say, the mayor of some small regional town in Japan, to discourage the Americans from dropping a nuclear bomb on his city? Or the Mayor of New York City would have been able to stop his nation's forces bombing Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo and many other cities in Japan 1944-45, on the impossible assumption that he would have been completely opposed to his nation's determination to force Japan to surrender?

[REPLY] You have completely missed the point, in Mayors for Peace mayors work together across national boundaries. If our work is successful, very few city mayors will ever believe again that the only way to win a war is to destroy the enemies cities.


Or, currently, the Mayor of Mosul would have been able to stop ISIS taking his city?
And so on.

[REPLY] We will be looking at the situation in Mosul and the region at an upcoming meeting in Halabja. We are concerned about the brutality of the occupying force but also the means drive out the occupiers. The relief of Kobani and the recapture of Ramadi while successful in military terms, were disastrous in civilian/infrastructure terms.


The military approaches to most cities are across countryside, unless they are coastal cities or, for the first time in history, an invader chooses to waste vast numbers of paratroops or airborne troops to land within the city.
Armies approaching cities across countryside are not noted for going gently there, never mind going gently in cities.

[REPLY] You are assuming failure before even trying. We are not so easily discouraged.


And international law in all its forms since the post WWII conventions, along with the United Nations, has been spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting anything and anybody from a determined aggressor or defender. Witness, as but one example, the endless chaos in Lebanon. As were the previous international laws useless in stopping WWI, the Spanish Civil War, the Italian adventures in Africa, the Japanese invasion of China, WWII, and so on.

[REPLY] The UN needs broader public support. Mayors can help to mobilize citizens awareness. They can put pressure on their own governments to abide by IHL.


The best protection for civilians is usually afforded by a superior military force on their side.

[REPLY] By which logic, there will always be the other-half cities that suffer the scourge of war. But worse, much war are not lopsided and cities on all side suffer.


That's not a reason not to have international humanitarian laws or laws of war, any more than the continuance of murder and theft are reasons not to have laws against them in civil society, but domestic criminal laws without the means to enforce them by police are as useless as international laws which cannot or will not be enforced by military force.

[REPLY] We, too, are for strengthening enforcement, both in terms of prosecution and apprehending suspects.

JR*
02-03-2016, 10:35 AM
Interesting. Of course, international, multilaterally-based law aimed at controlling the excesses of war - against civilians in particular - should be maintained and preferably respected. It is, at the very least, a worthy expression of the civilized values supposedly espoused by advanced societies. But is it any more than that ?

As you well know, RS*, there are numerous fundamental theories of law, some of which are not applicable to public international law. Not the place to get fully into this here (how many centuries have we got ?) but one nugget from all the jurisprudential guff strikes one as particularly problematic when it comes to the laws of war in particular. This is the notion that the core of "true" laws is that at some level, all law involves the presence of two elements - first, that there is a Rule; secondly, that it is accompanied by a Sanction attaching to non-compliance. One can argue the ins and outs of the purpose and justification for Sanction in general but, in the immediate case, we are considering the question of whether, and how, punishment or retribution should attach to breaches of the laws of war, hopefully, leading to potential aggressors and other potential war criminals being deterred from committing the relevant offenses. And, to put it simply, there is no indication that it is possible to confine the phenomenon of war within such boundaries.

Wars arise when the combatants feel entitled, or at least empowered, to conduct this activity, whether through motives of "legitimate" claims against a neighbor, greed, or necessity (including the necessity of self-defense). Where such motives take hold, application of the sanction/retribution/deterrence goes out the window, not least because there is no possibility (at least in the present real world) for imposing a sufficient and objective legal sanction to restrain or deter the forces let loose. What has always replaced "law" in these situations is, in one form or another, the dictates of Necessity along with "victor's justice", something else entirely. Even the trials of German and Japanese war criminals, and "criminals against humanity" constituted "victor's justice", as the victors of the war struggled to put at least the appearance of legal form in the unprecedented situation arising at the end of WW2. (Or, at least, all except the Soviet Union, which had little struggle, and indeed no small impatience, in accepting the forms of law to pursue pretty well unalloyed Retribution). Short of the emergence of some form of "strong" international government, willing to impose its rules on its component elements with considerable force itself, is this likely to be possible. No time soon.

I know it is a bit long, but it is interesting to consider the issues of Sanction, Retribution, Deterrence and indeed claims of Entitlement in the context of General William T. Sherman's reply to the burghers of Atlanta, Georgia which appealed against his order for the evacuation of that city in September, 1864. Given the terrible reality of war, one asks oneself what sort of "international law" could deter, control or moderate such a process ? It is difficult to deny Sherman's arguments, certainly from the viewpoint of Necessity, even if they are being used to justify what many now would regard as a war crime. Best regards, JR.

"Letter to James M. Calhoun, et al., September 12, 1864 (1864)
by William Tecumseh Sherman

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI IN THE FIELD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA, September 12, 1864.

JAMES M. CALHOUN, Mayor, E. E. RAWSON and S. C. Wares, representing City Council of Atlanta.

GENTLEMEN: I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from Atlanta. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of the distress that will be occasioned, and yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the case, but to prepare for the future struggles in which millions of good people outside of Atlanta have a deep interest. We must have peace, not only at Atlanta, but in all America. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored country. To stop war, we must defeat the rebel armies which are arrayed against the laws and Constitution that all must respect and obey. To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose. Now, I know the vindictive nature of our enemy, that we may have many years of military operations from this quarter; and, therefore, deem it wise and prudent to prepare in time. The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. There will be no manufactures, commerce, or agriculture here, for the maintenance of families, and sooner or later want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when all the arrangements are completed for the transfer,—instead of waiting till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the past months. Of course, I do not apprehend any such thing at this moment, but you do not suppose this army will be here until the war is over. I cannot discuss this subject with you fairly, because I cannot impart to you what we propose to do, but I assert that our military plans make it necessary for the inhabitants to go away, and I can only renew my offer of services to make their exodus in any direction as easy and comfortable as possible.

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the national Government, and, instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war, I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion, such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation.

You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.

We don't want your negroes, or your horses, or your houses, or your lands, or any thing you have, but we do want and will have a just obedience to the laws of the United States. That we will have, and, if it involves the destruction of your improvements, we cannot help it.

You have heretofore read public sentiment in your newspapers, that live by falsehood and excitement; and the quicker you seek for truth in other quarters, the better. I repeat then that, by the original compact of Government, the United States had certain rights in Georgia, which have never been relinquished and never will be; that the South began war by seizing forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, etc., etc., long before Mr. Lincoln was installed, and before the South had one jot or tittle of provocation. I myself have seen in Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, hundreds and thousands of women and children fleeing from your armies and desperadoes, hungry and with bleeding feet. In Memphis, Vicksburg, and Mississippi, we fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you; you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot, to carry war into Kentucky and Tennessee, to desolate the homes of hundreds and thousands of good people who only asked to live in peace at their old homes, and under the Government of their inheritance. But these comparisons are idle. I want peace, and believe it can only be reached through union and war, and I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early success.

But, my dear sirs, when peace does come, you may call on me for any thing. Then will I share with you the last cracker, and watch with you to shield your homes and families against danger from every quarter.

Now you must go, and take with you the old and feeble, feed and nurse them, and build for them, in more quiet places, proper habitations to shield them against the weather until the mad passions of men cool down, and allow the Union and peace once more to settle over your old homes at Atlanta. Yours in haste,

W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General commanding."

Aaron Tovish
02-03-2016, 11:25 AM
There is no denying Sherman's eloquence! But I think there is a need for context here; per Wikipedia (history of Atlanta):
[QUOTE] With all of his supply lines cut, Confederate General John Bell Hood was forced to abandon Atlanta. On the night of September 1, his troops marched out of the city to Lovejoy, Georgia. ... The next day, Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city,[19] and on September 7 Sherman ordered the civilian population to evacuate.[20][21] He then ordered Atlanta burned to the ground on November 11 in preparation for his punitive march south.[UNQUOTE/]
When one has control of an area, one is responsible for the well being of those within that area. This was an out-and-out war crime. And the eloquence of the letter only serves to illustrate the lengths to which military leaders not properly restrained by political leaders will go to justify their worst actions. President Lincoln also deserves censure for not restraining Sherman sufficiently; needing a 'victory' (burning Atlanta to the ground) to win an election is the worst possible excuse.
For the record: I am not by any stretch of the imagination pro-Confederate. The Confederacy's war crimes are legion as well; not to mention the very basis of its economy: slavery.

tankgeezer
02-03-2016, 11:27 AM
The truth is that Mayors have little enough power in their own towns, let alone any power to make law of any kind, especially when it involves other Nations. Put plainly, it's none of their business what other Towns Counties, States or Nations may do. They may exhort , cajole or wheedle all they like, but it's just noise. Armies go where the enemy is, no matter where it may be, Country side, or city, or Mountains, and Oceans. While the idea you express may have merits, it is not based at all in reality. No amount of wishing will ever make it so.
The U.N. is also without power, it is not a Government that oversees the world (though sometimes it may think it is) The most they will do is send Peace Keepers, (for a price) and these keepers have consistently failed to provide much if any benefit.
Now, if your aim is to organize members of this site to your cause, you may find yourself very disappointed. Here we deal for the most part, the histories of things that were, not things that are to come. But, you are welcome to speak your piece.

Aaron Tovish
02-03-2016, 11:40 AM
My original message was in response to another contributor's (proving that I am not alone) plea about Cities in Ruins. So I came to the site looking for help with "histories of things that were."
As for your discouraging words regarding "things that are to come," well, just watch us work!

tankgeezer
02-03-2016, 12:15 PM
You are very welcome to come here to learn about the histories we cover here, very glad to have you. But we don't do much in the way of things to come, it doesn't fit well with "History" (which was my meaning.) As to watching you work, I'll take a pass, personally, I'm not much into Political cheer leading, fundraising, or recruiting.
Historically, Japan has not shown much in the way of "going gently" in Cities when they invaded Manchuria, and China.(or any other place the Imperial forces invaded) You may want to look up Nanking 1937. So you just might want to look elsewhere for an example of proper Stewardship.

Aaron Tovish
02-04-2016, 03:31 AM
Just to set the record straight: Mayors for Peace is not sponsored/stewarded by the Japanese Government. I am employed by the City of Hiroshima and I am answerable to the leadership of the Mayors for Peace which is truly international.
I am well aware of Japan's history of ruthless aggression as are most of the Japanese I interact with. We wholeheartedly condemn it. ISIS's glorification of beheading is reminiscent of the Japanese army's behavior in China and how it was reported in Jpan at the time.

Rising Sun*
02-04-2016, 04:03 AM
Just to set the record straight: Mayors for Peace is not sponsored/stewarded by the Japanese Government. I am employed by the City of Hiroshima and I am answerable to the leadership of the Mayors for Peace which is truly international.

Regardless of my scepticism about mayors anywhere managing to influence the actions of their own or other nations where decisions about war are taken at much higher levels, I still regard your efforts as commendable, as are many other anti-war efforts inspired by narrow interests such as various women's groups against war inspired by feminist or anti-rape or anti-patriarchial etc viewpoints. All this undoubtedly contributes to anti-war sentiment and actions, but until the people of all nations are able to prevent their leaders taking them to war, nothing will change. Given the likes of Dubya, Putin, countless leaders of nations and militias and brigand groups in much of Africa and the Middle East and the presence of nutcases like North Korea's leadership etc, I don't expect anything to change in my children's or my grandchildren's lifetimes, and probably never unless someone works out how to remove the bully / thief gene from humans.



I am well aware of Japan's history of ruthless aggression as are most of the Japanese I interact with. We wholeheartedly condemn it. ISIS's glorification of beheading is reminiscent of the Japanese army's behavior in China and how it was reported in Jpan at the time.

The difference between Japan's conduct 1931-45 and ISIS recently and for the foreseeable future is that Japan's conduct emanated from factors peculiar to Japan and its relations with and treatment by the rest of the world after Commodore Perry forced Japan to engage with it. ISIS is an outgrowth of a religion which spans much of the globe in nations which are Islamic and the adherents of the ISIS version of which seek to reclaim the past glories of the supposed Islamic caliphate and other historical nonsenses.

Japan's defeat discouraged it from pursuing the same path again, ably assisted by the constitution and other things imposed upon it by the victors, although since WWII there has been a strong, unrepentant and consistent element in Japanese politics which preserves aspects of Japanese notions which contributed to Japan's conduct 1931-45.

Be that as it may, unlike ISIS and Islamic fundamentalists and states like Saudi Arabia and Iran, Japan is not a threat to world peace and does not export and support dangerous Islamic ideologies, arms and fighters to other nations for the sole purpose of damaging and ideally destroying them as being offensive to a certain version of Islam. That version of Islam is about as representative of all Muslims and their desires for peaceful lives as was the militarist / zaibatsu etc corruption of Japanese traditional values in pursuit of their expansionist / colonial / laissez faire capitalist policies.

JR*
02-04-2016, 09:24 AM
I think it is my understanding of this thread that is In Ruins at this stage. Regarding aaron tovish's "context" response to the Sherman letter - it only serves to reinforce my point. Sherman was driven on this occasion by a combination of entitlement, empowerment and necessity, and no consideration of decency was going to interdict his actions. I suppose it could even have been worse - at least he evacuated the city before reducing it to ashes.

By the way - he certainly could write. I wonder how many senior military commanders could match him now ? Yours from the Writer's Museum, JR.