Friday, April 8, 2011

A Quick Couple Of Thoughts

This post over at Duck of Minerva was slightly baffling. Apparently, there's a campaign to get rid of incendiary weapons and explosives in warfare.

Why is this baffling to FLG? Well, fire's been a weapon since, well, we've had weapons. He didn't need a report to tell him the following:
Regardless of their type, targeting, and delivery mechanism, however, incendiary munitions cause cruel and lasting injury to people as well as start fires that can destroy property. The munitions produce exceptionally painful thermal and respiratory burns, which can lead to complications such as shock, infection, and asphyxiation. People who survive often suffer long-term physical and psychological damage.

Obviously, just because a weapon has been around for a long time doesn't make it right to use in any and all cases or even any specific case, but FLG finds the idea of trying to ban something as elemental as fire in warfare quixotic to say the least.

The same post also links to a report by Landmine Action (now Action on Armed
Violence), one of the examples of an organizational mission creep that bugs FLG, first land mines, now all armed violence?, that explains:
When used in populated areas, the impact [of air-dropped bombs, rockets, and missiles to improvised explosive devices and grenades] can be devastating, causing large numbers of direct deaths and severe injuries, displacement, and long-term psychological, social, economic, and infrastructure damage. These impacts can be more severe where heavy explosive weapons are used or where use is sustained over time. When used in populated areas, the effects of explosive weapons tend to be indiscriminate – harming civilian men and women, children and the elderly, as well as any combatants.

Look, FLG gets the problem with land mines. They stay in the ground long after the conflict. Plus, they don't really offer much benefit on today's modern battlefields. So, this is one place where constructivism can make a huge difference in changing how people view the world. There's really no downside to stop using landmines militarily and a bunch of upside on the humanitarian front.

But fire and explosives? FLG gets that these cause serious harm to civilians, but do these people really think they'll be able to make any headway here? Might as well try to ban war writ large. As long as there is war fire will be used. As long as there are air forces bombs will be used.

This is one of those times when FLG thinks that constructivists are a bunch of hippies who think if we sat around and sang Kumbaya together the world would be fine.


Withywindle said...

Our armed forces in Korea are protected by landmines, hippie.

FLG said...

I think that's more historical artifact than military necessity.

It's more, we put them there in the 50s and given the political situation, we aren't going to go pull them out, but they don't really serve a great purpose.

The Maximum Leader said...

Didn't we agree to outlaw war in 1929 and again in 1945? What is the big deal with these milquetoast whiners?

WIthywindle said...

FLG: How do you know they have no deterrent effect?

FLG said...

Do I know they have zero deterrent effect on the North Korean military? No.

I do know, however, that land mines, as traditionally deployed by militaries would at best be a minor annoyance to most modern militaries.

Against an occupying force, that's a different story. But on the modern battlefield, next to useless.

Withywindle said...

How precisely is having land mines between the DMZ and Seoul useless?

The Ancient said...

Withywindle said...

None of those points address the central issue of whether land-mines deter a North Korean attack, or help defend Seoul from a North Korean attack.

Jeff said...

For what it's worth: I toured the DMZ a few years ago, and I recall one of the military guides suggesting that the mine field wouldn't be much more than an inconvenience if the North decided to roll south.

That said, I also found it significant that the North put a great deal of time and effort into building tunnels under the DMZ--tunnels large enough for soldiers to be able to march, two abreast, into Seoul. I don't know if the North's desire to tunnel under the mine field was fueled by the actual deterrent value of the minefield or its value as a psychological barrier, but it occurs to me that using a mine field to get your enemy to waste time, money, and manpower on tunnels that are just going to be intercepted (and turned into new sources of intelligence) is, in its own way, strategic.

FLG said...

I remember the theory about the tunnels, at the time, was to mitigate US and S Korean air superiority and satellite imagery.

Jeff said...

That makes sense.

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