Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why not to perform war crimes?

There are two common answers for the question in the title:
  • For moral reasons: we would feel bad, God will punish us, we get bad karma...
  • Because of reciprocity: if we kill their civilians, they'll kill ours
The first is outright useless: people have a great ability to rationalize and shift moral, just think of the Arena spectacles of the Romans, where slaves were killed by animals or other slaves. Lynchers were so proud of their "noble" act of "keeping the peace" that they literally printed postcards to brag. Religion is more likely used to justify or even call for killings than stopping them: God wills it!

Reciprocity works only in the case of symmetric and longstanding conflict. However most conflicts are not like that or at least the combatants believe that their victory is near, so they fear no retribution.

To see the real reason why war crimes are a bad idea, let's see the simple example:
Adam and Betty have some reason to hate each other and exchange gunshots in the street from behind cover. I have no preference between them and can't care less who'll win. Cindy carelessly walks into the crossfire. Adam stops shooting to prevent hitting Cindy. Betty seizes the opportunity and presses an attack, killing Cindy in the process. After this point, I (a third party) have a reason to shoot Betty at the back: Cindy, the innocent victim, was a third party like myself. By showing no regard for Cindy, Betty testified that she wouldn't care if I'd be the next. From this point she is a threat to me, while Adam is not.

This is the real point. Even in such a mass conflict as WW2, majority of the mankind will remain neutral. By performing inhuman acts against civilians or prisoners of war, the actor shows that he is a threat to people who aren't a threat to the actor, therefore to all the neutrals. This turns the neutrals against the actor, who now faces new enemies. The most fitting example of this is sinking of the Lusitania, where a German submarine attacked a ship carrying ammunition to Britain, without regard of the 2000 passengers on board, killing 1200. While mission accomplished in the military sense, the event turned the USA population against Germany, leading to the US joining WW1.

So the reason of humane behavior during conflicts isn't humanitarian, but strategic: to not get more enemies.

PS: No civilians were hurt in this battle. Or in this. Or in the obligatory capital battle of the day (and in a recent one). I know that Karmafleet is the worst among Goons. But I still can't fathom how on Earth could they lose this 6x outnumbering T2 fleet.

PS2: Bat Country is the one of the most active and highest ISK ratio corp in Goonswarm. They clearly fancy themselves as good PvP-ers. I just can't imagine why do they tolerate Gaara's sniper among their ranks, when he would be a disgrace even to NOBUX. After he threatened MoA with an EULA-violating multibox-fleet for a stupidly blinged cruiser and pod, he lost a nano-Barghest to roaming carebears, then a no-resist-bling-Machariel to roaming russians and finally a HG-Snake pod. All in the last 30 days. Hint: if you go to roam in Deklein, he might undock a purple autocannon Nestor on you!


Erwin said...

Hmph. Mostly, war crimes are intended to punish cheap asymmetric warfare. So, anything that a weaker side can do to punish a stronger side will be defined as a war crime.... Unless the weaker side wins. Eg.

Poison gas is a banned weapon. So are hidden bombs. But, you can send rockets to a funeral full of civilians on the chance that a soldier might show up.

Hanura H'arasch said...

One ought to remember as well that war doesn't last forever. Even in the case of a total victory you'll still have to live with the people whose lands you conquered eventually. And you definitely don't want them to hate you too much, as bomb assaults all over your new country aren't a very nice thing to deal with. Even if you only intent to keep the land and throw the people out you'll still setup yourself for another war in the future.

One way or another, committing war crimes is stupid in the long run.

Anonymous said...

If you are afraid of god, then it's fear, not moral.

Marek Zaborowski said...

War is less about exterminating enemies but more about breaking the enemy will, at least in current "meta". Thus, attacking civilians not only make us more enemies, it also fuels our enemy will. Obviously, if we are careless, kills their people, poison their water and salt their fields, there is no much left, than a war for them.

I think history of my own country, which is Poland is a great example. Like how could we accept USSR as a "savior" when they basicly single-handedly killed our chief-officers that were at this part helpless prisoners?

Another, more modern example. If anyone is monitoring east-european conflicts, Poland have GREAT interest in supporting anti-Putin/Russia Ukraine, since its a natural buffor against Russian agression. Yet, our society is divided about supporting fully Ukraine... Why?

Since Ukrainians nationalists did:

They are now proclaiming Stephen Bandera as their national here and that makes a lot of problems.

If we threat war like Clausewitz did (expansion pack for politics) it become clear, that hurting civilians ALWAYS backfire on the long run. I think its because peace is always favorable on the long run. War dosent produce anything extra, thus it really dosent fix any problems, eventually push them futher in time, by lowering population.

Baltec1 said...

Hi, Bat Country here. Gaara's sniper is a valued member of our organisation and unlike other corps we don't throw our friends under the bus based upon kill stats. What Gaara does with his isk is entirely up to him and all that matters is if he is having fun. I welcome anyone to add more isk to his bounty and add that Bat Country is recruiting.

nightgerbil said...

Don't see what was wrong with that cynabal. Nice little kiter. Not how I would have fit it, I'd rather scram kite, but I can see its purpose. Last thing it wanted was a plate on it to slow it down...

Gevlon said...

@Marek: I don't really understand why Poland hates Russia/Putin for the actions of USSR/Stalin. I think Russia is just as different from the USSR as Germany is different from the Third Reich. However it's besides the point, which we agree: killing civilians always backfire.

@Baltec: I know you won't throw him under the bus for his killboard. That's why you'll lose. He and the likes are my ticket to "winning EVE" by defeating the largest coalition. As long as the Imperium has him and likes around, MoA will never be bored and never have a frustrating month (sure, they'll lose battles, but they'll win much more). So all they need is SRP and publicity and I can provide those.

Endie said...

We might well lose in the ong run - everyone does - but if everyone else has lost four or five times in the meantime, as has been the case, then it's probably been worthwhile.

Gevlon said...

@Nightgerbil: there is nothing wrong with the cynabal. There is nothing wrong with having a slave pod. There is everything wrong with having the two at the same time.

@Endie: everyone else didn't lose. The same clowns (NC., Nulli, anything with Sort Dragon in it) lost again and again, exactly because you didn't finish them, but let them stand up to provide further content. You never defeated MoA, Tri, BL (they might defeat themselves y losing Elo), Marmite, -EH-, Snuff or anyone you call "irrelevant", despite responsible for 3/4 of your deaths.

Marek Zaborowski said...

Its because the actions taken foward. Many Polish people forgive and dont blame Germans for nazi crimes, because they believe modern Germans hate Nazis as much as they do. Now Russians cant simply say "USSR was evil and we dont want to have anything in common with it", simply because:

USSR won world war 2 in Europe and for Russia that campaing of Red Army was "something glourious" and something to be proud of. They build their nationality around it.
During USSR, russians belonged to super-power, a country that could go toe to toe with any other country or block in the world.
Also during that period, they had their greatest scientific achievments like their astronautic project.

Of course, that dosent change that USSR was bound to fail someday and that the problems was only growing. But we cant demand from Russians, that they would disconnect themselves from "commrades" of the Union, much like we demanded from Germans to disconnect from Nazis.

I understand that, but many of Polish people dont. We have strong martyrology, praise patriotic emotions and sacrifice and generally can be considered "perfect lv 2" country in both culture and society. So as You may understand now, we dont have that much rational reasons to hate anyone (though we can and should fear current Russian foreing policy, but only because they give us perfect reasons to do so), but its not like we need rational and objective reasons, when our culture and national identity is based on:
Opression of others countries
Honorable fights against odds

And so on.
Heck, we literally call Poland "Jesus of the Nations".

Endie said...

You do know that Moa admitted defeat and asked to join the CFC, which we foolishly agreed to? Then we kicked them out because they were really bad. Triumvirate we have killed several times, such as when they disbanded following the titan death. BL we have beaten several times, and they have shrunk to irrelevant rumps before Elo comes back and fires them up again.

Highsec and lowsec people we don't compete with so how can either of us kill the other? We'll probably outlast both if that counts.

Luke said...

Regarding Poland/Russia:
If you look at history, every time Russia gets competent leadership, it expands their borders. Once it runs out of space to grow in Asia, it turns towards Europe, with Poland being first stop (or at least near top, after Baltic republics, Ukraine and parts of Finland). Then it is a matter if in the same time there is a competent leadership in Poland itself. Since all you have is one either soft national-socialists or dem-socialist to realistically choose from .. well you have perception of being very soft target. BTW, there is same lingering "suspicion" about Germans too - still given post-war history, having to choose , the public would choose Germany as a side.

Now this actually plays in original scenario, as third/neutral party is more willing to help one of the sides plays into this natural threat perception - be it historical, racial or cultural background.

In example of WWI, USA was naturally gravitating towards Britain as a part of shared culturosphere and language.

The Germans would require much more effort to turn that perception in their favour.
Or Britain would need to do something extremely stupid that would enrage American public opinion. Once the forces are committed, and "bad guy" is designated, then you have much more leeway about level of atrocities you can commit.

In paralel to Eve world, consider how much different all the nullsec dwellers are to the highsec dweller. At that point of time, I would hazard guess they are more upset about CODE than goons proper. If even that.

Anonymous said...

Peoples morals can change, yes, but that does not make morals irrelevant.

Is the reason you do not steal simply because it is illegal and you risk getting arrested?

The history of "Do not kill civilians" goes back a very long way, and it has nothing to do with neutral people getting involved. It has to do with not wanting to annoy a population that you would be ruling afterwards, insurgency is always a headache for victors.

The Lusitana is an odd example to use, given that it was carrying ammunition (Therefore, by some it could have been considered to be using human shields), and that there is a great deal of controversy covering its sinking, and that it took the USA 2 years after the sinking to join the war, so cannot be stated that "This made the USA enter the war". What made the US enter the war was the sinking of 5 merchant ships in March 1917, coupled with the Zimmermann Telegram.

Anonymous said...

The theme of the article is why I opposed my nul-sec alliance mates going to highsec to gank freighters: They would alienate people against my alliance for reasons that did very little to help my alliance.

All things are interrelated, and alienating people without good reason is simply stupid.

Tsed said...

@gevlon there is nothing wrong with the cynabal. There is nothing wrong with having a slave pod. There is everything wrong with having the two at the same time.

But the pod you linked is a snake pod. Which makes perfect sense in a cynabal.

Gaara's sniper said...

Hi, Gaara here.
If you're confused about eula violation, well there is none, i'm not using any input broadcasting, videofxing and other stuff like that, feel assured i read rules many times over and i guess the fact that i'm still not banned proves my point.

The problem with these expensive kills is that after isboxer was not allowed anymore, me , who was mostly doing small gank pvp with my alts was left with only rattlesnakes drone assists. I have a lot of money and i don't really want to fly some cheap ass frigate with basic implants.
Besides, engaging organised ganks is not the same when you engage unogranised. Those gilas are very good at kiting, you can't take some brawling ship, only the same kiting ship would be good. I would like to use orthrus ( and i used for great success) but i wanted to try something more. Like that cynabal was supposed to one shot garmur, unfortunately all of the strong drop boosters i left in station, so i only grazed garmur. Others are mostly misscommunication with karmafleet and stuff like that.
I know one pilot that also has stupid ammounts of money and *lol* was once a MOA he also lost some expensive ships. He is a good solo elite pvper and just have more experience than me.

What about your moa are winning and stuff like that is actually funny cause they don't earn the same ammount of isk goons do.
Here's an idea for your stats, calculate how much goons and moa earn isk, then calculate how much goons dealt damage to moa and how much moa dealt damage to goons and calculate the percentage of dealt damage to earned isk. Ok the stats are hard to pull, but if you ask nicely from maybe bat country ceo, he'll provide you the ammount tax collection on corp wallet, or maybe not. Probably if you get the stats from gen eve and bat country, don't calculate it, cause then surely moa won't be winning anymore and that's not what you want. amirite?

Foo said...

There is also a propaganda reason not to overtly perform war-crimes against 'them'.

The narrative is something like 'They are evil, we are good'. If you paint what 'they' are doing as war-crimes, while framing what 'we' do as 'the good fight', then socials will back and support you.

From observing various conflicts over various ages, there does seem to be some perceived value in committing crimes against your own population.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: Lusitania is a good example exactly because of the ammunition. It was a legitimate target, yet it was a bad idea to ignore the passengers. While some war crimes are performed with cruel intent, most are just for convenience: it's easier to kill them all than try to separate civilians from fighters when they are close. It's easier to carpet-bomb them, gas them, shell them from afar.

@Next anon: indeed. Ganking with alliance tag and taking highsec POCOs just to give a finger is exactly what brought Goons all those deaths from the GRR project.

@Tsed: damn right. I somehow misread it for Slave. Damn right, fixed. Now it's just an expensive pod lost with an expensive ship in a lost battle against 6x outnumbered enemy.

@Gaara: it's impossible to tell, how much people earn on highsec alts. Most MoA earn nothing on his MoA pilot and yet he has money. Also, I make a lot of ISK too, but instead of building those embarassing fit titans I planned when I was new, I give the money to people who can PvP. Maybe you should consider the same.

99smite said...

The sinking of the Lusitania is a very bad example. WW2 is a very bad example as well.

Prior to the departure of the Lusitania, the German government published ads in national American newspapers warning civilians to embark on that ship because it would carry ammunition and military equipment.
In the case of a Russian submarine sinking the "Wilhelm Gustlow" resulting in over 10k dead civilians, the attack was justified up until today because the WG carried military personnel as well...
While people still rage about the sinking of the Lusitania, the justifiy the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

When Coventry was bombed, there was an extreme outrage, after the destruction of Dresden which had absolutely no industrial facilities, but was full with refugees and other civilians, no one made a fuss about it.

French terrorists. also known as "La résistance" who bombed civilian installations killing civilians and hiding behind civilians were never put to trial for killing their own... The Germans got the general blame. When German farmers caught an American bomber crew after their bomber got shot down, and in their outrage about throwing incendiary bombs on civilian homes, outright killed the entire crew. These civilians were later executed by allied forces...

War crimes are defined by the victors! If Germany had won, every single communist would have been executed as it would have been considered a criminal offense..

Gevlon said...

99smite: it's quite funny that you don't recognize my point in your own post. The bomber crew who killed innocent civilians got themselves new enemies and it got them killed. The later "victor-justice" didn't resurrect them.

Anonymous said...

Never underestimate the warped mind from wilfully stupid drones. the hypocrisy on so many levels is enraging. Once in motion they will do all sorts of awful stuff in deep believe that it is good or for a good cause w/o second guessing any action they do or witness.

Marek Zaborowski said...

When plastered billboards scream with slogans
'fight for your country, go to battle'
When media's print assults your senses,
'Support our leaders' shrieks and rattles...
And fools who don't know any better
Believe the old, eternal lie
That we must march and shoot and kill
Murder, and burn, and bomb, and grill...

When press begins the battle-cry
That nation needs to unify
And for your country you must die...
Dear brainwashed friend, my neighbor dear
Brother from this, or other nation
Know that the cries of anger, fear,
Are nothing but manipulation
by fat-cats, kings who covet riches,
And feed off your sweat and blood - the leeches!
When call to arms engulfs the land
It means that somewhere oil was found,
Shooting 'blackgold' from underground!
It means they found a sneaky way
To make more money, grab more gold
But this is not what you are told!

Don't spill your blood for bucks or oil
Break, burn your rifle, shout: 'NO DEAL!'
Let the rich scoundrels, kings, and bankers
Send their own children to get killed!
May your loud voice be amplified
By roar of other common men
The battle-weary of all nations:

Julian Tuwim in rough translation from Polish.

I though that this poem explains rational though of people about war perfectly. If someone likes non-english songs, there is a great cover:

Also Its shame that in original there is also "When priest, rabbi and pop will bless Your rifle, because the only god whispered to them that is right thing to die for Your country." and this version not... Anyway, I hope some of peoples will like it.

Provi miner said...

The question is how badly do you want to win? As they allies drove across Germany resistance behind the lines was powerful. The solution? Invite locals to a ride along program it worked. Of course today that would be a huge crime. Or how about inciting people to rise up promise them support and then leave them hanging (literally) is that not a crime as well?

99smite said...

Dear Gevlon, I totally see your point and deem it reasonable. The problem I have with the "war crime" issue is, that war crimes are not defined by a neutral thrid party like Chribba. They are defined and pursued by the victors, andthe victors only.
Aks any Silesian fugitive who got his home burned, his family raped, tortured and killed , all "legal" afte the "Benesh" decrees. These millions of fugitives who belonged to the German ethnic did not leave their home of free will! They mostly fled and came with nothing more than their skin...
After the German surrender, almost thre million rapes occurred in Berlin, just in Berlin, not in whole Germany.
Families in southwest German hid their females for over a year because the french had their arabic mercenaries stationed there. They had no problem raping anything that looked right and still moved...
Not one single act of these war crimes or post war crimes were punished. So, in my opinion there is only one way to sort it out. Win your wars, give your ennemies a crushing defeat and then ourge the ennemy's land from its population. No one will ever argue again about war crimes then, because dead people don'T argue anymore...

Guess why the head members of the George w. Bush jr. administration do not visit any European country... Because in most EU countries, starting an unjustified war (attacking war) is a serious crime. If a diplomatic visit would become known, there woould be a flood of criminal complaints and the public prosecutors would have to react if they do not want to face charges themselves...