International Law - Bombing of Civilians - Essay Example

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The Bombing of Civilians in Wartime The first document is the “Law and Customs of War on Land (Hague II), July 29, 1899.”1 This document states that armies cannot attack towns, villages, habitations and buildings. Moreover, the Commander, before commencing a bombardment, must do all he can to warn authorities…
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International Law - Bombing of Civilians
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This document is basically the same as the previous one. The third document is the “Draft Rules of Aerial Warfare, The Hague, February 1923.”2 This states that there cannot be aerial bombardment for the purposes of terrorizing citizens, or bombardment for the purposes of destroying buildings which are not military in character. Basically, this article states that there can only be aerial bombardment of military targets, or within the immediate neighborhood of land forces. The fourth document is the “Protection of Civilian Populations Against Bombing from the Air in Case of War, League of Nations, September 30, 1938.”3 This document states that the intentional bombing is illegal, and that only military objectives can be bombed. The contrast to these documents to the course reading is that the course reading suggested that entire cities were bombed, not just military targets.4 For instance, according to the course reading, in April of 1940, Germany launched a blitzkrieg of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.5 Moreover, Hitler used airpower against civilians in London in the Battle of Britain, which caused sympathy among the Americans. There was further allusion to civilian casualties. The chapter states that, in Europe, the Allies destroyed large cities such as Hamburg and Dresden, killing many civilians, which perhaps was not offset by the damage that was done to military targets.6 In fact, the critics of the Dresden leveling charged that Dresden had little strategic value.7 In Japan, the relentless bombing of civilians was duplicated, as General Arnold devised a plan where large Japanese cities would be firebombed. The bombing of Japanese cities was supposed to be precision, but, really, the bombings were indiscriminate, leveling square miles, with the number of Japanese civilians killed in these raids outnumbering the Japanese soldiers killed. Air attacks in Tokyo in March 9 and 10, 1945, leveled a quarter of that city and incinerated 100,000 people. The strategy was called “bomb and burn them until they quit.”8 And, of course, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki involved the loss of much civilian life, and the bombing of these cities went well beyond military targets. In fact, the advice initially was to stick to throwing the nuclear bomb on military targets as a show of force- Truman declined to do this, because he wanted the bomb to inflict as much psychological damage as possible.9 The bombing instantly incinerated all humans and manmade structures, with the longer-lasting effects of radiation disease being the great fear after these bombs were dropped.10 If the information that was contained in the Hague Documents was known to all Americans – that, according to the Internationally agreed-upon rules of war, civilians were not to be targeted, neither would cultural and historical landmarks or hospitals and the like – it probably would not have changed any citizens opinion. The reason for this is because the American people probably just wanted to win the war. They saw that the enemies were fighting dirty – the Japanese attacked our ships, after all, and the world was probably beginning to understand that Hitler was ruthless and intent upon world domination, even if the world didn’t exactly know the extent of Hitler’s atrocities at this time. If the enemies could be ruthless, then the Read More
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