Should the rules of war apply to the aggressor only?

Thing is, when a regular military kills innocent people, it’s dismissed as “collateral damage”. Why is it “collateral damage” only for them ? Because the rules are designed for the benefit of the conquerers, who have regular militaries; not the people who fight them, who don’t. Either it’s wrong for both sides, or neither; the present rules try to have it both ways.

But they’re not all the enemy, though, and they can’t be treated as such. If they’re all the enemy, than the only way you can hold land that’s been conquered is with genocide and extermination, and that doesn’t often happen…when the Normans took over England, they didn’t kill off all the Saxons, when the English took over Ireland, they didn’t kill off all the Irish, when we took over Germany after WWII, we didn’t kill off all the Germans.

That’s because the majority of the civilian population didn’t want the invaders dead, or if they did, they weren’t worked up enough about it to do anything. That’s why killing civilians is seen as such a bad thing…because they’re non-combatants…they’re not the enemy, they’re not taking up arms against you. That’s also why guerilla resistance movements tend not to work. They’re outgunned, and they tend to piss off the native population enough, who mostly wants the fighting to stop, that the population no longer supports them.

What “rule of war” says that resistance fighters have to wear uniforms?

The GC concerning POWs explicitly states that resistance fighters, even if they don’t wear uniforms, get POW status just like uniformed soldiers do:

Nothing about uniforms there.

As far as “so forth” goes, well that just means they must “carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.” You don’t target civilians, you don’t behead prisoners, etc.

Some non-combatants do take up arms against an invader.
Witness the resistance movements in the occupied countries during WW2.

Whether or not these movement did a great deal of harm to the Germans is open to debate but they certainly got a lot of their countrymen killed by way of reprisals which were often 10 (or more) civilians for each German soldier killed.

No, the object of war is not to defeat the enemy in as short a space of time with the least casualties. The object of war is to achieve whatever policy goals you’re going to war for. War is the continuation of politics by other means, etc. Now, sometimes yes, your goal will be simply to defeat the enemy as expeditiously as possible. But sometimes your goals will be more nuanced, and in those cases you will most likely need to use more nuanced means than merely going out and kicking ass. This is especially true when your opponent is using guerilla tactics against you, and has some substantial level of support from surrounding civilians. In such cases, use of the most expeditious ass-kicking possible tactics is entirely likely to create more enemy partisans than it kills, and hence is not advisable. See: Napoleon in Spain, USSR in Afghanistan, etc.

In your first two examples it took many generations, and there’s still resistance in Ireland, rather famously. In the case of the Normans/Saxons, there’s been enough rape/intermarriage/time that as far as I know, it’s not a big distinction anymore ( I’ve never been there, so correct me if I’m wrong ).

Germany is a special case, as they appear to have accepted they were in the wrong and/or stupid for taking on most of the planet at once. How often does that happen ?

But it’s not seen as a bad thing; it’s dismissed as “collateral damage” all the time. I don’t see many Americans worked up over the civilians we’ve killed in Iraq. It’s only seen as bad when a third party we disapprove of does it.

In other words, when you slaughter/rape/torture enough of the civilians, they’ll submit out of fear. The guerrilas die from being outgunned, and no one wants to join them because they don’t want their families dragged off to the torture chambers, or their villages napalmed as “collateral damage”.

The one mentioned by RickJay.

What is the difference between
A Guerrilla fighter
A Resistance fighter
A Partisan.

There must be one (I think) but it must be a very fine line between one and the other.

Wrong again. The distinction between collateral damage caused by military action and the killing of human shields behind which non-rule-abiding insurgents hide is that the former is an unintended result that is minimized to the extent possible by the military, but the latter is an intended result that is maximized to the extent possible (and, if necessary augmented in Photoshop) by the insurgents.

First, are you claiming that regular militaries never kill civilians on purpose, and irregulars never try to avoid civilian casualties ?

Second, dead is dead. It’s ridiculous to claim that it’s worse to kill a dozen on purpose than a million as a side effect.

I don’t know that those two things are the same. As long as resistance fighters carry arms openly, they don’t need to wear uniforms.

So you think it’s wrong for the resistance to, say, pull out a hidden pistol and shoot an enemy soldier in the back ? Is it wrong for them to set off a bomb under an enemy vehicle ? Lure a soldier away with a prostitute and beat him to death when he’s alone ? Poison his drink ? Run one down with a car ? I don’t.

And don’t bother with the retort that the soldiers will then assume all civilians are part of the resistance and kill/abuse them; they’ll do that anyway.

Cite? I mean, is this a *codified *definition? Or the way you think it should be?

It depends on if such actions have any reasonable chance of succeeding in driving out the occupying force, and if driving out the occupying force would actually improve things.

Just because someone is an enemy soldier doesn’t make it moral to kill them.

Is it moral to pull out a hidden pistol and shoot a civilian from the occupying country? Is it moral to secretly travel to the occupying country and randomly poison people? Is it moral to pull out a hidden pistol and shoot one of your own countrymen? If they are a collaborator? What if you just want to make the point that the occupier can’t keep the streets safe? Is it moral to plant bombs in a marketplace in order to kill civilians from your own country? Is it moral to pull out a hidden pistol and shoot soldiers from your own country if you don’t support your own government? How about civilians? Is it moral to randomly murder prostitutes if you think prostitiution is evil?

At some point you’re just a serial killer, regardless of how you justify your killing.

Yes, from Article 44 of the 1977 protocol to the Geneva Convention treaties:

The combatant has to wear a uniform or, if he can’t, has to carry his arms openly in order to “distinguish themselves from the civilian population…”

Ta, thanks.