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The Rules of War
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Matthew Yglesias and Phillipe de Croy of the Volokh Conspiracy both remark on recent accounts of Iraqi soldiers defying the rules of war by wearing civilian clothes, co-mingling with civilian populations, and using perfidy (pretending to surrender to lure the enemy into ambush).

Matt notes:

If we start treating all apparent civilians as hostiles, the result will be increasing hostility among the civilian population which will make our military operations more difficult and cause our standing in the world to plummet even lower than it already is.

He's exactly right, of course. Iraq is intentionally making it uglier and more dangerous for innocents.

Phillipe, on the abuse of surrender, notes:

There can come a time for just about anyone when surrender turns into an attractive option -- if not yet, then when they and their comrades find themselves unarmed or inadequately armed and surrounded by heavily armed enemy combatants. But if our troops in those circumstances can't be sure that the Iraqis in front of them really are unarmed and that it isn't a trap, it seems likely that they will be inclined to err on the side of caution. False surrenders thus amount to a very striking case of a military "burning its bridges."

One could simply argue basically (as someone in Matt's comment section has): Tough, it's war. The Brits complained when we used unorthodox tactics in the American Revolution.

And it's something we should have expected. Still, if one agrees the basic logic of having rules in war, if only to make it that less horrendous than it already is, tossing those rules out only increases the risk of death and injury to innocent civilians. But as Matt points out, when the results of such irresponsibility are increased civilian casualties, American and British troops are the ones who are going to be blamed.

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