Innocents, Percentages, and War

Of late, I have been considering the difficult problem of dealing with the innocent bystanders in a war. It certainly isn’t right to kill innocent people. However, in some cases, it is easier to destroy large areas, and some innocents in the process, to deal with the enemy. An interesting question is what percent of the population, if such a percentage could be calculated, are innocent bystanders in war. If the percentage is low enough, to me it would seem fine to completely destroy the inhabitants of a given country, unless it could be determined that some resource among the life that would be destroyed is valuable to the world, to the point that its destruction can not be done (by this I mean particular people who have the potential to substantially improve the world.) I know that such a policy would be controversial, but why not use it? If one could successfully use such a policy, then the problems of winning a war would be gone. For, in some ways, we are held back by our attempts to avoid the killing of innocent bystanders. If one were to ignore the small percentage of innocents in a given place, then one could deal with the entire area, thus hitting everyone in the country you want to. Note also that I am assuming that a country has ample resources to perform such an attack of mass destruction without the destruction spreading outside of the area targeted. What do you think the proper percentage should be? Do you think such a policy should be used at all?

Jeez, Namo! Don’t you have enough people to fill your halls?

Such a policy would be mere semantics, IMHO. It would all be predicated on how you define “innocents” anyway. Trying to reduce the “horror of war” by redefining the terms seems to me to be a fruitless (if not evil) endeavor.

I see you’ve read the Silmarilion. I want you to understand that my motivation is not to kill more people, but to destroy a particularly violent group of people that is bunched into one place with very few non-violent people among them. To me, it would seem wiser to destroy the entire group, unless you could find a way to filter those non-violent people and kill the violent ones. This prevents the violent group from causing considerable damage to the rest of the world. I would hope that the definition of innocent involved someone whose intention would not somehow harm the world, or another person (who is innocent, of course, other violent people are best dealt with in a somewhat aggressive manner, peaceful methods don’t work very well.) Or at least something along those lines. Now, if this violent group could somehow be contained, then killing them wouldn’t be the answer. However, it would seem that such matters are best dealt with quickly, before more harm is done.

The mass “wipeout” would only mean that the most violent group (yourself) has won.

Come now. If my group desired to stop the destructive actions of another group, and that group could only be stopped through its destruction, would that make my group violent? The motivation behind the destruction is the stopping of destruction. A group that is violent, and it a threat to the world as a whole, is, rather than a valuable resource in any sense, a negative presence, a danger. Thus, its destruction is not necessarily destructive, but could be regarded as constructive. I don’t see why you view it necessary to defend a violent, dangerous group.

But who decides that? The Palestinians believe Israel to be a violent and a negative presence. Al Quida believes the United States to be a threat to the world as a whole. Eventually it all boils down to “I’m right, your wrong”, and that is a pretty tough place to be when you are argueing about the life and death of innocent people.

It does seem rather obvious that the group that is the most destructive is the group that actually causes the most destruction. If that destructivness is justified or not is another story. But it does no good to pretend that causeing violence, even justified violence, is anything but what it is.

If one was to take this approach, the job would have to be done so thoroughly that there would be nobody left to emand revenge, however futile that seeking of vengeance might be. As an example, let’s say the US decides to attack, oh, Argentina. If you leave the “innocents,” they will teach their children that the US is the Great Satan. If you clean the whole place out, the Argentine “diaspora,” people with some kind of connection to Argentina living abroad, will do the same thing, or people with more casual connections, say, people who went there on a trip once, might have problems with it. It’s a cliche, but war takes away innocence. You’d just as well kill off the whole human population.

You mean the United States?

Seriously, though - you are scaring me. You are suggesting that it could be justified to destroy an entire country and kill every last inhabitant? I just hope nobody like you ever gets to be in charge of a nuclear arsenal. You do realize that in a war, EACH side THINKS they are right, don’t you? Although war itself is evil, the only thing that saves it from being EVEN MORE evil is that, up to this point in history, at least a tiny amount of restraint has been showed in that nations have adhered to some modicum of decency.

Of course it would. A supposed moral justification for a violent act doesn’t negate its violence.

These are judgement calls - each group feels itself to be ‘valuable’, and the other to be a ‘threat’.

Guernica, Coventry, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki. It’s been done before (though not on an entire country). The element you’ve not mentioned here is that of surprise. None of the victims of the aforementioned expected the attack.

If your enemy knows you’re planning their total obliteration, then they’re more likely to get a pre-emptive strike in first to knobble your offensive capabilities; your tactic also provides them with moral equivalency to do the same thing to you and your innocents.

If both sides know that the other would consider this, then you have Mutually Assured Destruction.

Mandos - what you are missing is that wars have political objectives. The purpose of the war is to achieve those objectives, not to kill the enemy for the sake of it (except where the political objective of the war is in fact genocide)

So, if the aim of the war is to win back province X, why embark on mass slaughter? Invade X, defeat the enemy, and then fortify so that it cant be retaken. Or if the aim of the war is to remove the current government, again your strategy must be directed to this end, and slaughter is going to be counter-productive.

Okay, the reasoning behind the overall wipeout is to prevent any sort of violence from coming from the area again. If there are no more people to commit the violent acts, they can not be committed. Sadly, I now see that this wouldn’t really work, mainly because the “anti-productive” portions of humanity are too difficult to target. Of course, the alternative is something along the lines of world domination. You see, the idea behind this is to destroy the violent ideas by destroying a particular group so completely that their “anti-productive” ideals can not spread, can not continue to exist after their defeat, so that they can not wait until they are strong again for another attack. Of course, this probably wouldn’t work, making a pursuit of the end of violence quite difficult. I’m starting to believe the fastest way to reach a period where violence is no more is through something along the lines of world conquest. Once the world is under one government (and this government would have to have almost total control of the world) then a balanced society could be established. A balance is hard to maintain when there is an outside world that is not balanced, there is always the possibility that the ideals of the outside world could seep into the balanced one. So, what is the solution? I really don’t know. I originally started this thread in order to discuss ways of completely destroying violence, and I was putting forth an example of a possible solution. What do you think could be done?

Mandos, you sound like a Bond villian.

Mandos, are you the new Bond villian ?

Please stop accusing me of ill intentions. My intention is not to put the world into a darker age but a brighter one. Sadly, I am somewhat stuck in terms of how to bring about this brighter age. My main problem is figuring out how to make all humans accept some basic concepts in terms of society. I am trying to figure out a way to end this dark age where violence is still abundant. I seek a way to bring a stop to violence, at least violence that is not needed. If you choose not to place your input as to how a utopian society could be created and maintained, please, at least, do not accuse me of ill intention. My motivations are good. That is all I can say to explain to you.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Sounds like you want to destroy the world in order to save it…

Peace through Death!


You are familiar with the concepts of Communism yes? Because strangly enough that is really the system which you seem to be advocating. Kind of like one world government for the good of the collective. Only you see “violence” as the main problem instead of wealth distribution. I think you need to dig a little deeper and define to yourself the reasons for violence. Let me make a reading sugestion for you. Read Ayn Rand’s “We the Living” its fiction but I think you will see why collectivism will never work.