Sunday, June 18, 2006

Asymmetrical Warfare

The above title and link was started by Andger at Thom's Board, and my first reaction was this should be interesting to discuss warfare and more specifically asymmetrical types of warfare. The thread starts with a quote from the NY Times:
"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed," Admiral Harris said. "They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

The only comment by the poster was "Yep".
Registration required so this is just the first part of article:
June 11, 2006, Sunday
By JAMES RISEN AND TIM GOLDEN (NYT); National Desk
Late Edition - Final, Section 1, Page 1, Column 6, 1650 words

DISPLAYING FIRST 50 OF 1650 WORDS -Three detainees being held at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, committed suicide early on Saturday, the first deaths of detainees to be reported at the military prison since it opened in early 2002, United States military officials said. The deaths come at a time of...

Since the other commentators seemed not to understand how someone could wage war in acts other than violence I introduced two links:
1. Prisoner's Dilemna which is an study of game theory in economics. This link was specifically the answer to the prisoner's dilemna facing Gandhi and his choice of using the option of "noncooperation". He basically refused to play the game. But...
2. The Scorpion in any game is one who refuses to cooperate or to work toward mutual benefit. He will opt for the quick gain but in the end will loose since in most experiments others will be willing to pay a higher price to punish "scorpions" than to take the higher bounty if it helps the scorpion out.

And now back to the thread. All I get back is basically blank stares and the question as to why am I dodging atrocities committed on prisoners. Thus I try to explain that yes the prisoners could be doing an asymmetrical warfare even if they are prisoners. I also show how an act of suicide was considered an act of war also in:
Masada
The rampart was complete in the spring of 73 CE after approximately two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram. When they entered the fortress, however, the Romans discovered that its approximately 1000 defenders had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed mass suicide rather than face certain capture or defeat by their enemies (which would probably have led to slavery or execution). Because the Judaism strongly discourages suicide, however, the defenders were reported to have drawn lots and slain each other in turn, down to the last man, who would be the only one to actually take his own life. The storerooms were apparently left standing to show that the defenders retained the ability to live and chose the time of their death. This account of the siege of Masada was apparently related to Josephus by two women who survived the suicide by hiding inside a cistern along with five children and repeated Elazar ben Yair's final exortation to his followers, prior to the mass suicide, verbatim to the Romans.

Naturally the man of stupidity, sunrise, says:
It takes two, to wage asymmetrical warfare, does it not. Its not a term to describe what oneside does to the other, it describes the inbalance of the two sides (or several perhaps), doesnt it?

Yes it describes an inbalance but it does not need to have two well defined sides and especially not two sides that are involved. Islamic terrorists have been waging a war on the US and the West for decades and only recently has the US started a War on Terrorism. This was an asymmetrical war as we were not engaged in it. So my first thought from the title was this asymmetrical war and similar one sided/uneven wars. Like the WWII war against Poland or the US use of nuclear weapons on Japan.
Sunrise again:
I read the other day, i dont know if it checks out, that Britain justified using dumb dumb(?) bullets, those that explode on entry and blow a big hole out the back of the target. Bullets that were pretty much banned. On the basis that the people they were using them on were, primitive, and so had a much higher threshold of pain.

Lately it has been surprising that some people can have no concept of war and fighting, can be so opposed to it. You would think you would want to know a modicum of information about it before saying stupid comments on it.
DumDum
During the 19th century the area was home to a British Royal Artillery Armoury, where, in the early 1890s, Captain Bertie Clay developed a bullet with the jacket cut away at the tip to reveal its soft lead core (See Hollow point bullet), known as a dum dum. The British needed more powerful weapons to use against the Afridi Tribesmen in the Khyber Pass, who were apparently unconcerned by ordinary bullets. The dum dum shells were designed to expand rapidly upon impact with the human body, breaking up and inflicting a number of savage tearing wounds....
The ban on dum dum bullets was the only one to survive after World War I, because they had a tendency to jam in self-loading weapons, and because armourers had by then developed fully jacketed bullets that were equally destructive in tissue.

So there is no "exploding" and no blowing a big hole in the back of target. Not because of the targets being primitive or had a higher threshold of pain but wanted to wage another type of psychological warfare (intimidation).
Soft Point Bullet and Hollow Point Bullet:
When the bullet strikes a soft target the pressure created in the pit forces the lead around it to expand greatly into a mushroom-shape. This causes considerably more soft-tissue damage and energy transfer than if the nose had not been hollow....
In many jurisdictions, it is illegal to hunt game with ammunition that does not expand, and some target ranges also forbid full metal jacket ammunition.

So this is not illegal at least for domestic use.
Since there was a lot of talk about detention centers and concentration camps I also presented a couple of camps in Holland during WWII. Two of the commentators were from Holland and another from the UK.
Ommen
Vught
Amersfoort
To try and jumpstart the conversation I thought I would present the definition of asymmetrical and the Wiki entry for Asymmetric Warfare:
Asymmetric warfare and terrorism:
Asymmetric warfare is not synonymous with terrorism. Rather, terrorism is sometimes used as a tactic by the weaker side in an asymmetric conflict. Terrorism is sometimes called asymmetric warfare by advocates for partisans using terrorist methods [1] to avoid the pejorative connotations of the word. Likewise, occupying powers often label partisans "terrorists" as part of propaganda campaigns to maintain support in the occupying power's home country, and to win over the occupied people so as to cut off the partisans' principal support base. This is the root of the phrase "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

Morality of asymmetric warfare:
Asymmetric warfare is not inherently any more immoral than symmetric forms of warfare, but immoral tactics have been frequently employed in asymmetric conflicts. As described above, the lesser power may engage in terrorist tactics and the greater power may commit atrocities. It is often impossible to determine which side committed the first immoral act, but the outcome is a vicious circle of immoral reprisals and retaliations between the two sides.

And my funny friend miles asks, "How do you know?" (no gas chambers in Gitmo). Then "How can you determine this..." And "How can you tell?"
Which, I responded with, "What is actually more pathetic is my gullibility in trying to prove a negative. I thus will claim unfair burden and refrain from further proving the negative." And of course Miles responds with: "Nobody is asking you to prove 'a negative'. First of all, YOU were the one top bring up 'no gas chambers in Gitmo'. The question, then, wasn't: "prove it", but rather: "how can you tell?” Which reminds me: You still haven't ANSWERED THAT."

After thinking about this much, I don't see any difference in asking to prove something vs. asking how you can tell or know or even determine this.

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