This is definitely a very interesting subject. As for your answer Havoc, like wavehawk's question, I think the subject requires some lengthy wording, to get any understanding.
That said, as you guys have covered it better than most would have, I'll toss in a couple of comments, hopefully not too redundant, about the nature of conflict and war -
_All's fair in love and war - That long-lived statement isn't just glibness, by whoever penned it. Our societies are tenuous constructs, held together by our actions or inactions, the laws are only reminders, justifications, and excuses, without our common consent. Wars being the failure of common or unilateral reasoning, it's hardly suprising that "illegalities" are rampant in them. Getting the job done is the prime objective. The levels of brutality are determined by the demands of the situation, and the decisions made by the groups and individuals carrying out the actions. What can you justify, what can you get away with, what must be done?
_Laws - They apply to the lawful. If you are an unarmed soldier who has lawfully surrendered, you are not truely protected from brutality and death inflicted by your captors. Laws of War, of nations, of religion, none will not help you, if the bastard wants to kill you. He is outside the immediate reach of the law. He may be served justice at a later date, if not by random occurence. But if he chooses to regard whatever laws or moral safeguards which should stay him, the laws can only be punitive in their function.
In the execution of irregular or unconventional warfare, the very nature of these preclude the following of all all laws. Again, choices must be made, but inevitably laws will be broken.
Keep in mind, that the victor makes the rules. Law, Justice, and Right are not necessarily the same. Had the Axis won WW2, Harry Truman, our generals, and many of our representatives would have been tried and executed. History would have shown us wrong, in words, in print. What was the truth, would not have mattered.
_The choices - All through history, men of courage, desperation, determination, and combinations of all, have gone into dark places to carry out missions against their foes. Often they have assumed the garb of the local population or enemy soldiers. With or without laws, their capture often meant death. Records of uniformed prisoners slaughtered in droves and singly, accompany every tale of conflict in history. The attempt to improve the lot of soldier and civilian, by laws of conduct and rules of engagement, is an admirable pursuit. Given the nature of man, the true effectiveness of these prohibitions must be faced honestly. What comes of them lies in the hands of men, good and bad.
What you do
When it counts---The Masao
- Ryan Bonaminio lived his life this way -