"Rules of Engagement" Hypocritical, Meaningless

I always wondered - in a war, why do they bother with wounded enemies? Isn’t a wounded enemy someone you meant to kill? So why not just finish the job? Are they somehow less dead from a “warm-blooded” versus a “cold-blooded” killing?

How is it that other countries are so wrong for using 16- and 17-yr-old children as soldiers when ours in the U.S. are 18 and 19? Two years makes that much difference?

And why are acts of outright cruelty towards the enemy called aberrations when they happen all the time? They’re not unusual at all, they’re part of war (at least every war I’ve ever heard of). Study after study has shown that people behave abominably under certain conditions and opportunities; it’s part of being human. Why set up those situations and act surprised at the outcome?

I think we’re lying to ourselves to believe there are “Codes of Honor” in war. Some people, some soldiers and commanders, behave more honorably than others - sure. Maybe the vast majority of them do, I don’t know. But (and perhaps somebody can correct me on this) to my knowledge “war” means “we’re going to send our children to murder, torture, maim and terrorize your people”.

Maybe if we called it what it is, we wouldn’t do it so often.

I think you’re confusing “wounded” with “surrendered”. A wounded enemy who is still fighting and has not surrendered or who refuses to surrender is no different than a non-wounded soldier in the same circumstance.

Well, in most wars you don’t kill enemy wounded for a very good reason, you may be wounded one day. Now if the wounded soldier is still fighting, that’s different.

Annnnnnnnd…we’ve officially narrowed down that you didn’t vote for Bush in 2004.

This war notwithstanding (because I’ve no qualms about calling the conflict in Iraq a personal vendetta wrapped in lies), sometimes “war” means “relieving others from oppression” and “sacrificing personal comfort for the greater good of mankind.”

I hope your comments are directed solely at the clusterfark we’re currently wrapped in, because otherwise it oversimplifies a complex concept.

Well, yes and no.

Iraq is a particularly egregious example, but didn’t we see a lot of the same problems in Vietnam? And while I won’t defend the Japanese in WWII, I do remember hearing stories from our neighbor, a WWII veteran, who spoke with pride about torturing the enemy. It seems to me that inhumane acts are a part of war, not the exception. We should be more honest about what war really means. And quit parading under an assumption of moral superiority - under the right circumstances, we’re just as bad as “they” are.

However, I realize I may well be oversimplifying to my detriment & am here to learn.

If you kill those who are captured, the remaining enemy will fight to the death, which is more dangerous to our troops. Treating those enemies who are captured with respect directly saves lives of Americans.

The general idea is not killing people who aren’t a threat anymore. The goal of a war isn’t (generally at least) to “send our youths to kill, torture and rape yours”. Killing people is only a mean to achieve the real goal of the war (whatever it is). Once people don’t any more stand in the way of this goal, there’s no particular reason to off them.
Apart from that, the limitations are arbitrary. Some weapons are allowed that certainly are equally or more awful than some others that are banned. It just puts some limits to the means used to achieve the goals of the war.
And of course, it also a deal : “we’re not going to do this to your guys, and you’re not going to do it to ours, either”.

And, to get even more cold-blooded, a wounded enemy (if he’s recovered) takes up more of the enemy’s resources than a dead one.


There was some point where people realized that minimizing the deaths on both sides was a good idea. This has less to do with a “code of honor” and more to do with minimizing the toll of war.

And as, Fear said, you hope the other guy appreciates what you did for them.

It’s not so much that the enemy will treat their captives better, it is that they will fight more fiercely and to the last man if they think they are going to be killed anyway. That is dangerous, and costs more American lives than if they can be captured or surrender.

Does that really work? Aren’t people already motivated by their leaders to seek martyrdom?

It just seems crazy to me. “We’re going to do XY heinous things, but not Z. So that makes us good.” And then a bunch of other awful stuff happens anyway.

Eh, not really. The whole ‘fight to the death’ idea is frequently not too popular with troops. Look at GW1. Hussein was continually telling his troops to fight to the last man no matter what. Kill kill kill! Die die die!

Lots of troops surrendered in that one. Once they knew they couldn’t win in a particular situation, why bother? Why die to accomplish nothing.

Unless you’re referring to the current problems in the Mid East. In that case, yes, they are motivated to see martyrdom. Still, though, those are fanatics. I’m betting that the line of guys willing to join Arab Army X is a hell of a lot higher than those willing to get in line for Suicide Division Y.

If everyone over in Iraq who wanted the Americans dead or gone (or preferably both) were to make some sort of coordinated suicide attack on the American forces, the bloodbath would be incredible.

Thing is, unless you’re a total fanatic, what would your response be when the local recruiter says, “I want you and your thirty friends to grab knives and charge that Marine. At least one of you will get through, and he’ll be dead! Praise Allah!”? Unless you’re one of those aforementioned fanatics, I think you’ll be exiting stage left pretty quick.

Yup. But we went in with the best intentions, and sure, we had to get our hair mussed, but it’s all part of Doing The Greater Good.


I know this has been said already, but my understanding is that the objective of war is not just to kill as many people as possible. It’s more about real-estate than it is about killing. The killing happens when one side doesn’t want to let the other side have the real-estate. If you can take soldiers out of the picture without killing them, so much the better. Not having wars would be the best, but if the choice is between war with rules of engagement, or war with no rules, I think the former is preferable.

O.K., I know you’re not talking about Iraq, right?

What, have you been ignoring what friends duffer, Brutus, Shodan, msmith357, reeder, december, etc* have been saying for the last couple years?

Everything the USA has done since Dubya’s inauguration in 2001 has been nothing but the will of a Perfect God enacted Perfectly.

Duh. Go home, commie!


*added as a joke

Hate to tell you this, but sarcasm doesn’t work when there are plenty of people here who would say such things in all seriousness. Next time try this guy: :wink:

One reason, more cold-blooded than actually killing the enemy, is that it takes a hell of a lot more of the enemy’s resources to move the wounded man off the field of battle and attend to him than it does for them to step over a dead man.

I don’t know that 16 or 17 makes a difference. The youngest American soldier to die in Vietnam was PFC Dan Bullock, who lied about his age and was only 14 years old when he entered USMC boot camp. PFC Bullock was KIA June 7, 1969 An Hoa Combat Base, Quang Nam Province, South Vietnam. He was 15 years old. Is it sad to see such young lives wasted? Of course it is. It is sad to see any life wasted.

For whatever reason, it seems that the younger the life, the more a waste it people believe it is. Perhaps it’s the way we see the young as the future, or that we tend to believe they are innocents whose lives are yet to be lived.