Civilians Soldiers and the Rules of War

The rules of war as stated by Gen. George Patton in summary stated that it shouldn’t be the goal of his soldiers to die for their country but to ‘get the other sonofabitch’ to die for his’. Each of his men, and all other members of the military were given and had to memorize Rules of Engagement and the terms of the Geneva Convention along along with the rest of their service manuals. There were severe consequences,including long prison sentences and even the death penalty for violations of those Rules.

That was when soldiers wore uniforms,represented nations and, with some notable exceptions, avoided civilians whenever possible while seeking out the enemy soldiers fighting on some kind of real or imagined ‘field of honor’. Opposing Civil War officers often saluted each other. WWI fighter pilots did the same in the air. WWII soldiers showed some adherence to the Geneva Accords and civilians as well as prisoners of war were treated according to some sort of ‘humanitarian’ ideal (often unmet) conduct.

No more. The so called terrorist kills for his/her own religious convictions and believes that in doing so he/she will so please his/her God and that what follows any death in this cause will result in a martyrdom that assures a first class ticket to an honored place in God’s presence. If others suffer death because of his single act…so much the better for them. There are no exclusions from the bizarre narcissism that allows for such unilateral decisions to kill whoever and to die however. No uniforms, no way to identify a combatant from a non-combatant…no rules of engagement…no salutes or communion with anyone who might die on any side in the process.

What once would have generally be considered insanity is now given some credence as ‘religious conviction’. The American juris prudence system most often puts to death people who act on these ‘convictions’, even to the point of destroying their surrounding innocent supporters.

No problem for the self appointed/annointed zealot to go beyond any ideal limits for wars and soldiers. The only rule is destruction. Whatever and whoever happens to be in their path. If these self-appointed death dealers embed themselves in groups or buildings filled with ‘their own people’…especially women,children, the aged and infirm, it is a preordained conviction that the killing of as many of their perceived enemies as possible justifies whatever collateral damage is done even to “their own”. Killing the enemy sends them to hell. Killing anyone else in the process sends them to heaven. It is an impossible logic proof rationale for random destruction.

The only way for a soldier or nation to keep the old illusions of honor and still resist is to let their own beliefs…often including the supremacy of life and the notion of non-combatants and avoidance of using deadly force on ‘innocents’ prevail, with the consequence being the loss of their own life along with their nation’s non-combatants and innocents. Not an easy choice, but now a necessary one.

If the so called terrorists lay down their weapons, the result will ultimately mean peace.

If the so called infidels lay down their weapons, the result will be a continued war and ultimately mean their death, the death of their loved ones and their nation.

Terrible choices. Not, however, choices that allow for continuing unilateral rules of war…rules of decency…or personal, rather than practical, pragmatic and unavoidable adjustments to new realities. One can not fight a street fighter with Marquis de Queenbury rules and allow for any chance of survival much less any notions of ‘victory or’peace’

There can be no victory, there can be no peace, when one side is totally and unalterably committed to the anhilation of the other.