Playing Devil’s Advocate
I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate to JMOHR, where he notes that as signatory to the Geneva and other conventions, we are bound to provide a minimum level of treatment to anyone captured as part of the War on Terror.
I’m no historian, but my understanding is that during the Franco-Prussian War, the German military was quite open about shooting large number of civilians in occupied territory as a demonstration intended to keep resistance to a minimum, particularly after Sedan. In World War 1, the German military was quite open about shooting large numbers of civilians in occupied territory as a demonstration intended to keep resistance to a minimum. In the first weeks of the war, for example, the Germans massacred somewhere between a hundred and two hundred civilians in Andenne, Belgium… and then put up placards in other occupied Belgian towns to inform residents of the peril of failing to fully cooperate fully. In World War 2, the German military was quite open about shooting large numbers of civilians in occupied territory as a demonstration intended to keep resistance to a minimum. My grandfather used to have a poster “commemorating” the massacre at Lidice.
1. The policies of brutal, often collective punishment did not stop civilian resistance in any of the three wars
2. On the other hand, arguably brutal, collective punishment stopped the Germans from launching another war. The fire bombing of Dresden and the post-War occupation of East Germany, not to mention the large number of German soldiers and civilians who perished in Soviet work camps, helped provide strong disincentive to the Germans to involvement in another war.
3. As per 1 and 2, is it possible (game-theory wise) that the failure of brutal and collective punishment came because it wasn’t brutal and collective enough to accomplish that goal?
I note… I personally do not feel that behaving barbarically is a good idea – even if it works to quell resistance, it does something to those who engage in the behavior. At least that’s what I think… but I’ll play devil’s advocate to that too… my grandfather – who went on a one year all expenses paid tour of Western Europe from the middle of 1944 to the middle of 1945 told me that after the Battle of the Bulge, when it was found that several SS units had engaged in the practice of simply shooting American prisoners, word came down from the top that Patton himself would personally take an unfriendly interest in any soldier in the Third Army who knowingly brought in a prisoner from any of those units. Treatment of civilians and prisoners from other units of the German military and the SS, from what I was told, continued to be by the book, and Patton wouldn’t have had it otherwise. Every few years until he died, my grandfather continued to go to his battalion reunions. As years went by, there were fewer and fewer of the former soldiers, and more and more family members. I never went to his reunions, but my aunt did, and she tells me that the men who carried out Patton’s directives remained, to the end, very good men.