The Instigator
1stLordofTheVenerability
Pro (for)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
tkubok
Con (against)
Winning
28 Points

Are there Actually Rules of War?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
tkubok
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/9/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,553 times Debate No: 10012
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (22)
Votes (5)

 

1stLordofTheVenerability

Pro

Greetings to my opponent. :D Good luck, have fun and keep it clean.

This argument regards the controversies of war. We see many atrocities occur, and the question is asked, do rules of war actually exist?

In this debate, I am going to make a case that conventional soldiers and armies do generally fight according to the rules. The 'rules of war' do exist, whether or not they are actually written or merely an unspoken agreement. Though they may not be followed often, especially in the unconventional war against terrorism, they do exist.

The Geneva Conventions largely regulate actions of war, as do the Hague Conventions, . http://www.ppu.org.uk...

Stay classy
tkubok

Con

Sure, i shall take this argument.

No, there are no rules to war. The side that wins is the winner.

As the famous quote goes, "All's fair in love and war."

The instances of the "Rules" of war that my opponent has presented, are things to which both sides can or wont accept. And it is their choice whether or not to accept such laws.

Therefore, there are no "Actual" rules of war. Only supposed rules.
Debate Round No. 1
1stLordofTheVenerability

Pro

There are multiple laws and rules of war, both 'mutually understood' and actual. It is quite obvious that they have largely deteriorated from the stiff rules followed back in the colonial era, per se, in which it was wrong to shoot even an officer or drummer boy.

Some solid rules include the honouring of Red Cross and Red Crescent. No matter who breaks that rule, they should be punished if captured. Of course, unconventional fighters purposely target such helpless peoples such as medics, doctors and chaplains, but, when they are captured they are punished for it (if their deeds can be proved). All Conventional armies honour this and do not fire upon red cross. The Government of one's own army will (should) initiate a punishment of sorts upon the soldier who does fire at will.

It is also prohibited to shoot at an unarmed carrier of the white flag. Any conventional army will honour this rule as the white flag conveys the will to communicate, surrender or issue a temporary ceasefire.

Of course, anybody who utilizes these symbols in order for ambush or armed military purposes will also be punished.

I acknowledge that, often, such deeds are legally overlooked by some Governments (particularly those not governed by the Geneva and Hague Conventions, those not Democratic and those in which the media doesn't portray outrage to the people), but a breech of such rules also makes one a legal military target (the offender can be shot on sight) and a loss of protected status.

Also, conventional armies must meet certain requirements, such as distinct national symbols of which can be seen at a distance (to depict one soldier from another). Impersonating an enemy soldier in order to kill is an unlawful 'perfidy'.

Taking hostages is also a war crime for conventional soldiers. Now, taking hostages does not mean that an opposing enemy leader can't be captured and then utilized for a trade or negotiation. It generally means that innocents can not be utilized for such purposes. Extremist groups such as the Al Qaida actively breech these rules, and, as such, they are disciplined without the use of 'cruel and unusual punishment' by our soldiers.

That is another rule of war. Torture is not a legal tactic of any United Nations member's conventional Army.

It is true that the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions do need to be accepted by a nation; however, any member of the UN needs to abide by these rules.

The Hague Convention addresses the use of biological and atomic weapons. It is instated that neither may be used in conventional warfare. It is largely true that fear prevents them from being used just as much as the Conventions, but these are, indeed, the rules.

Thus, as summary I have set forth many examples of actual laws and rules of war, in which my opponent will find it nearly impossible to negate since they are concrete and evident.
tkubok

Con

"No matter who breaks that rule, they should be punished if captured."

Congrats. I just won the war. Who is going to punish me for blowing up every red cross from here to my enemies base?

"when they are captured they are punished for it (if their deeds can be proved). "

Again, i order my soldiers to specifically destroy enemy medical camps to lower my enemies morale. I win the war because of it. Who is going to punish me?

"The Government of one's own army will (should) initiate a punishment of sorts upon the soldier who does fire at will."

This is assuming that a government is involved. What about Dictatorships? Do they not count? Have we eradicated all such regimes in favor of democratic elected governments? Are these governments the only countries having war? Your assumption is unsubstantiated and unfounded.

"It is also prohibited to shoot at an unarmed carrier of the white flag."

Again, if i win, who will punish me? Especially if i am winning, i might choose to accept the opponents unconditional surrender, but that is still my choice. I can easily choose not to accept the surrender, and choose to annihilate my opponent from the face of the earth. Infact, they have a name for this. Its called "No quarter".

"they are disciplined without the use of 'cruel and unusual punishment' by our soldiers."

Abu ghraib. Guantanamo Bay. These alone disprove this argument right there.

"Torture is not a legal tactic of any United Nations member's conventional Army."

Oh please.(1)(2)

Where are your laws now?

"however, any member of the UN needs to abide by these rules."

Piff. The USA is apart of the UN, last time i checked.

"Thus, as summary I have set forth many examples of actual laws and rules of war, in which my opponent will find it nearly impossible to negate since they are concrete and evident."

Okay. Let me write my conclusion.

My opponents arguments seem to rely on this omnipotent military force that governs the world. Therefore, if you break one of these rules, this military force will come and take your children away. However, in reality, there is no rule or law in war. If you can get away with it, and if you can win with it, and if you will lose without it, no government, dictator or despot will hesitate to use it. If a country has nothing to lose and everything to gain, it will easily and quickly use any measure to ensure its survival, or ensure its opponents destruction.

Now, I shall leave you with a few quotes...

"I have no doubt that if an actual ticking bomb situation were to arise, our law enforcement authorities would torture. The real debate is whether such torture should take place outside of our legal system or within it. The answer to this seems clear: If we are to have torture, it should be authorized by the law."

"In war, there is no such thing as a cheap shot."

Source:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
1stLordofTheVenerability

Pro

It appears that my opponent's favourite debate tactic is sarcasm. He hasn't actually given me a substantial reason of why there aren't ruled of war; rather, he stubbornly clings to the 'all's fair in love and war' attitude. It seems that it is his belief that, because of the occasions the rules aren't followed, they simply don't exist. This is bad theology.

The main thing to accept is the fact that allied organizations enforce the rules, even if the leaders of an individual country/army does not (for example, the Lord's Resistance Army exists on rape, abuse, torment, child abduction etc. If its leaders are captured, they will be punished with life imprisonment in a UN Tribunal... That is, if the Ugandan Army doesn't discipline them, first). It's nice that you 'won' the war, but I would say that, at the very least, you are ejected from the United Nations as a credible ally. NATO would also certainly have something to say on the matter.

As a victor and nation that is now noted on the world scale to have no regard for humane treatment, disrespect of the Red Cross and willful negligence in that abandonment of the rules, one could expect to be dealt with only in the harshest of manners (short of war). Trade embargoes, condemnation and immediate arms alerts against your nation would be trivial compared to the UN War Crimes trial etc. Of course, if one is so disconcerned about the welfare of humanity, perhaps NATO, the US or the UN might see fit to eliminate you as a leader of your country.

Remember, winning the war is not everything. Sure, a nation may tromp all over a smaller nation in a fight, but that nation immediately is noted on the International scale, and its wartime behaviour had better be acceptable, and not that of 'perfidy of war'.

Perhaps you recall the War in South Ossessia? Georgia decided to invade South Ossessia, and then Russia and Azerbaijan intervened on South Ossessia's behalf. Reports trickled regarding potential bombing of a hospital/residential area by the Russians. As I recall, the Prime Minister of Russia had a lot of explaining to do regarding the entire incident. It isn't your foe who can punish you, it will be the International onlookers.

The UN could officially be deemed, 'International referee', could it not? It tries to ensure that all play fair.

A dictatorship still has to maintain a semblance of Government, with ministers and representatives. It is true that some of them do not willfully follow the rules of war (Such as the Shah of Iran, and Saddam Hussein), but they are later punished for it.

North Korea has been concerning International society with its Nuclear weapons testing. If it utilizes even one in combat, do you think that country will get away with it? I highly doubt it. And, this time, North Korea won't have China to back it, or the USSR.

'No quarter' is a slang expression that generally means that one will not retreat on the battlefield. It does not meant that an army won't honour the white flag.

I figured that you would bring up Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay is definitely in violation of the rules, on some cases. However, the United States courts are now dealing with the controversies and complaints of the prisoners. In Guantanamo, much of the 'torture' is not what we would expect if we fell into terrorists' hands. In fact, the prisoners largely go unharmed. Humiliated perhaps, but unharmed. Waterboarding (I AM NOT condoning it) merely simulates the experience of drowning. No person is actually let to drown. Do you think a member of Al Quaida would think twice before harming or actually drowning you after extracting the information? But ours being a 'just' society', the prisoners are capable of complaining. If we fell into Al Qaida hands, we would probably never escape in condition to do any complaining.

But, these places are controversial and potential violations to the rules. Guantanamo has been reported and is now in the repairing process. Rules were broken and amends are now being made.

I noticed that you didn't cite the people who stated your quotes. Citations would be nice.

Anyhow, as I have stated before, there are rules and regulations that any honourable and conventional nation must follow.

The rules of war have always existed, and will never cease to exist. Granted, they have declined from the time when war was an art form. Back then, it was wrong to shoot an officer. Now any soldier is fair game.

A last event that I might address, since I've already addressed biological weapons.

Many nations (and activists) are pushing for the outlawing of anti-personnel landmines. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines si the program, with Canada and the UN championing this effort. Already 155 countries have signed the Ottawa treaty. Another ten (including China and the US) follow regulations regarding Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. This is yet another concrete rule of war in which 165 nations have agreed to follow in one form or another.

The Convention in Conventional Weapons issues regulations banning the use of certain types of weapons; these include permanently blinding laser weapons, incendiary weapons and 'booby-traps'.

Let me leave you with a couple quotes of my own

"Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are." ~ Franklin Roosevelt
Thus, even if rules of war didn't exist (which they do), our moral principles should keep us to a form of honourable fighting.

Ted Olsen ~ "I want to add that the people that are conducting this war against the United States and the citizens of the United States wear no uniforms, swearing allegiance to no country, obey no treaties and have sworn and acknowledged that what they want to do is do the most amount of damage to the most amount of individuals without regard to any rules,"

He is acknowledging that they do exist, but are being broken. Which is why one becomes a 'terrorist'.

"If someone is a soldier, he is under the rules of war and needs to be treated as such," ~ John McGinnis

"This report shows lack of understanding on the region, this is a combat zone, ... We follow strict rules of engagement and the laws of war." ~ Bryan Hilferty
tkubok

Con

"He hasn't actually given me a substantial reason of why there aren't ruled of war"

My opponent must be kidding. I refuted all the rules of war that my opponent has presented, as being something that is only followed by the discretion of the nation.

"It seems that it is his belief that, because of the occasions the rules aren't followed, they simply don't exist."

This only applies to rules that are enforced, such as the rules of a soccer game. If i break them, and some people have, the rules still exist. However, i guarantee you, that if the penalty of losing a soccer game was Death, and a new rule was added that "If you don't want to follow the rules, no penalties will be applied", the Soccer match will be a free for all bloodbath.

"This is bad theology."

I agree, that is bad theology. Because Theology is a study of Theism and God, and this topic has nothing to do with theism or God.

"for example, the Lord's Resistance Army exists on rape, abuse, torment, child abduction etc. If its leaders are captured, they will be punished with life imprisonment in a UN Tribunal... That is, if the Ugandan Army doesn't discipline them, first"

The keyword here, is "If" the leaders are captured.

"Trade embargoes, condemnation and immediate arms alerts against your nation would be trivial compared to the UN War Crimes trial etc."

If i were a powerhouse like China, Trade embargoes will hurt not only me, but the economy of the entire world. Furthermore, i doubt any dictator will be willing to give himself up to a UN war crimes trial. Last time i checked, most of the worlds dictators are still running around.

But the most hilarious part, is how the US acted against controversies of Torture. In fact, the US official stance was as followed:(1)

-Despite U.S. and international laws which recognize waterboarding as torture CIA Director Michael Hayden said the use of waterboarding by the U.S. was legal in 2002 and 2003 because a Justice Department lawyer signed a secret legal opinion claiming terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Convention's ban on torture.

"Of course, if one is so disconcerned about the welfare of humanity, perhaps NATO, the US or the UN might see fit to eliminate you as a leader of your country."

Assassinations now, is it? I don't remember that being allowed in the so called "Rules of war". Especially if no war has been declared.

"Sure, a nation may tromp all over a smaller nation in a fight"

My opponent has made a nice assumption here. My opponent seems to assume that a large nation may only wage war on smaller nations. Which is not true.

"As I recall, the Prime Minister of Russia had a lot of explaining to do regarding the entire incident."

As i recall, no trial, sanction or punishment was imposed on the Prime Minister of Russia.

"The UN could officially be deemed, 'International referee', could it not? It tries to ensure that all play fair."

I agree. Cause clearly the UN, when the US were using illegal torture acts, stepped in to ensure a fair play. Because the UN stopped the US from invading Iraq! What did George bush do? Instead of following the UN rules, he stated in his speech, "free nations will not allow the United Nations to fade into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society." and invaded Iraq anyways!(2) Clearly the UN is fair, and just and effective!

"It is true that some of them do not willfully follow the rules of war (Such as the Shah of Iran, and Saddam Hussein), but they are later punished for it."

Really? Cause Tibet has continuously claimed genocide form China, yet the Chinese have received no such punishment.

"North Korea has been concerning International society with its Nuclear weapons testing."

Beyond that, North Korea has already committed atrocities such as Kidnapping. Yet, what were the sanctions against Korea? Instead, we are paying them to stop doing their nuclear tests. Clearly the UN is effective!

"It does not meant that an army won't honour the white flag."

(3)Nuff said.

"Waterboarding (I AM NOT condoning it) merely simulates the experience of drowning. No person is actually let to drown"

This is SO hilarious.(4)

It doesnt matter if the person isnt actually let to drown. Just like it doesnt matter if the person who has his fingers cut, one by one, until he confesses, does not die. Torture is torture.

"Rules were broken and amends are now being made."

Oh please.(5) Bush vetoed the ban on waterboarding in 2008 and congress was unable to garner enough votes to overturn the veto.

Barrack Obama has abolished the useage of such tactics, but no one has been punished as of late. It appears that Guantanamo bay will be closed, but it has not been closed yet. Your argument fails utterly in the light of facts.

"I noticed that you didn't cite the people who stated your quotes. Citations would be nice."

Sure. Ill write it at the end of my argument.

"Already 155 countries have signed the Ottawa treaty."

Ah, the nail in the coffin.

So any country that does not sign the treaty are not privy to the "Rules of war" anymore, are they not? Although it makes little difference, as countries such as the US who have signed the UN charter, still use and ignore the UN in these matters.

"Thus, even if rules of war didn't exist (which they do), our moral principles should keep us to a form of honourable fighting."

Where was the honor of the soldiers in Abu Ghraib?

"He is acknowledging that they do exist, but are being broken. Which is why one becomes a 'terrorist'."

He doesnt call them terrorists. But thanks for taking the time to put words in Ted Olsens mouth.
Heres another quote:

"Inter arma enim silent leges(In times of war the law falls silent)"-Cicero.

Oh, and two quotes are from Alan Dershowitz i believe.

As a final note, again, the UN council has systematically failed to intervene or punish many countries, including the US, for breaking multiple rules of war. They are ineffective in doing anything to stop any warcrimes, and can only do so if they are more powerful than the nation in question. For nations that are so powerful that the UN literally cannot do anything, they are helpless. No rules of war exist, that must be followed, and only the countries that cannot stand up, follow them.

source:
1. http://www.cbsnews.com...
2. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://jurist.law.pitt.edu...
5. http://www.reuters.com...
Debate Round No. 3
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by JernHenrik 1 year ago
JernHenrik
The fact that wars are just, and most be won and besides killing the enemy soldiers, war consists of an infinite number of such defect, beatings, robberies, rape, harassment, abuse and humiliation of millions of people.

The surviving civilians are completely vulnerable to a man with a gun. It was he, the soldier, who has the power of life and property, represents violence, is the representative of the whole mechanism of destruction and cruelty.

All experience says that if armed soldiers are left to their own devices, they will drink and they will rape. The Strong will sexually dominate the weak. The macho culture, in most countries is so patriarch, rigid and sadistic, After the battle, the conquered women, men, even children were beaten and raped. Their parents forced to watch.

And no one will blame the brave victorious soldiers
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Grumpy had it right. Saying that people violate the rules and sometimes get away with it does not argue that there are no rules. Pro referenced the rules adopted by treaty in the first round. That is conclusive. Con winning is ridiculous.
Posted by tkubok 7 years ago
tkubok
pickpocket94,
If i had more rounds, i wouldve been able to go deeper into my arguments, but alas, only 3 rounds.
Posted by pickpocket094 7 years ago
pickpocket094
Biggest issue was with the soccer game quote. Besides that, most of it works. But for that part of it, I kind of had to cock my head for a second and try to figure out where you were going with it.
Posted by tkubok 7 years ago
tkubok
Pickpocket094,
Can i ask what you didnt agree with Con?
Posted by pickpocket094 7 years ago
pickpocket094
I had to vote Con on this one. Although I don't agree with everything that was presented by Con, they offered good opinions with mostly credible sources. Pro did not offer any sources and often relied on the defense that "con is wrong" instead of taking the effort to really prove anything.
Posted by Korashk 7 years ago
Korashk
I just read this debate and frankly the Instigator relies too much on the UN for his or her arguments. The UN has no actual power to stop any nation from doing anything. Neither does the Geneva Convention or the other treaty which I can't recall the name of.

Also, in Round two the 'sarcastic' comments may have been poorly utilized, if taken as hypothetical statements are all very valid.
Posted by tkubok 7 years ago
tkubok
1stLordofthevenerability,
Infact, the first reason the US invaded Iraq was because of the terrorists. However, it was common knowledge that Saddam had no ties, and actually persecuted Al Queda terrorists. So, that was a bust. Then Bush said there were WMDs, and that this was a threat to everyone, and tried to justify the invasion of Iraq. Of course, as we all know, no WMDs were found. Then, Bush said that Saddam was a dictator and had to be taken down, and specifically refered to Saddam as the guy who "Tried to kill my dad".

This is, of course, ignoring things like Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo bay.
Posted by pickpocket094 7 years ago
pickpocket094
According to the United Nations Charter: Article 2, clauses 3-4 essentially prohibit war (except in self-defense) by stating, "All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

By going into Iraq without being attacked first, the United States broke this rule of the U.N. Yet is our country being anything but quietly scolded? No. Because the United States is such a super power, no on will dare stand up to them. If a sniper ever got to the current "muscleman," President Obama, the system is set up so that no matter what that button can be pushed.

Because the United States is able to live above the rules so much, it is almost a precedent that as long as you have enough firepower, even if there are rules of war....they simply no longer apply. So, agreeing with tkubok, there are rules of war, but if they are not obeyed or followed....then no, there are not "actually" rules at all.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
1stLordofTheVenerability
Okay pickpocket, you raise a good point. Suppose he does possess the power to blow up the town. This does not mean, once again, the he HAS NOT broken any rules. This argument is about semantics just as it is about the enforcing of the rules. He will eventually be brought down - he can't remain in standoff state forever. Suppose that a police sniper cuts him down from the window of a building more than 200 yards away, before he has time to press the button. Eventually, justice will prevail. Once again I emphasize the flak that the US has received over its actions.
I also must ask which rules that I have outlined were broken by the United States' invasion. Which rules do you expect the UN and US to uphold when declaring war and then invading a country? To my knowledge, invading a country is not against any rules - how else is there supposed to be war? It is the conduct of the war and the declaration of war that must be analyzed.
So you're saying that, supposing North Korea decided to retaliate for the ship incident and backed its invasion with some serious muscle (part of its nuclear arsenal), it is not the fact that they used the nuclear weapons but that they unjustly invaded in the first place that broke the rules? Of course not. Utilizing nuclear weapons breaks the rules. Invading does not, unless treaties and alliances have been broken.

Grumpy, you can debate without your cell phone number. I don't even have a cell phone. : ) However you can't vote or blog.

So once again, the rules exist. They could be broken, but this doesn't mean they have no existance.
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Vote Placed by Korashk 7 years ago
Korashk
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