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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Amused when people contradict themselves and then say they are tired of arguing with me

A: Although it has long since ceased to be the case, the myth is that soldiers and armies attack combatants-- other soldiers-- primarily, and that civilian deaths are proportionately few, and unintended. Chemical weapons, like nuclear weapons, always kill large numbers of civilians, so it runs counter to this myth. The fact, however, is that civilian deaths as a proportion of the total number of deaths have been increasing steadily in contemporary wars, even when only "traditional" weapons are used.

I started a petition at a US government website demanding that the government reconsider its use of drones. It got only one signature in addition to my own. Another petition that I signed at that website, to pardon Edward Snowden, did get enough signatures to require a response from the government-- over 100,000 in the first month-- but as far as I know, the government has never responded. So much for the trappings of accountability in which the current administration has portrayed itself.

B: Ces pétitions sont-elles réservées aux Américains ? Est ce que je peux les consulter et éventuellement les signer ?

A: Je crois qu'elles sont réservées aux Américains. La site est par ici:

We the People: Your Voice in Our Government | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

Me: Well, civilian deaths have increased because wars have involved terrorism and insurgencies. The point about WMDs being indiscriminate in who they kill is at least somewhat defensible as a reason to ban their use.
BBC News - Why chemical weapons provoke outrage

Les pétitions ne sont pas réservées aux Américains : AFP: Hong Kongers turn to Obama over milk shortage fears

A: > civilian deaths have increased because wars have involved terrorism and insurgencies
I disagree with this strongly. The proportion of civilian deaths in modern warfare started increasing long before the emergence of what some news media now call "terrorism" and "insurgencies". Most of the civilian deaths were inflicted by governments.
It has become fashionable to call anyone who opposes an established regime a terrorist; this is not what the word really means.

The petitions at the website *** and I were talking about are reserved for Americans. The petition talked about in the article you gave a link to has nothing to do with that website.

Me: News article: "The appeal, labelled "Baby Hunger Outbreak in Hong Kong, International Aid Requested", was posted on Tuesday on the "We the People" section of the White House website, which does not require petitioners to be US citizens."

Website you talked about: We the People: Your Voice in Our Government | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government

If you Google "Baby Hunger Outbreak in Hong Kong" you get a link: which mentions that "The petition you are trying to access has expired, because it failed to meet the signature threshold."

The "We the People" FAQ says: "Anyone 13 or older can create or sign a petition on In order to participate in the We the People platform on, users must create a account and verify their email address."

There is no mention of citizenship requirements.

I talked about "terrorism and insurgencies". Do not conflate the two.

I haven't seen any evidence that the high amount of civilian deaths is due to governments murdering civilians. That is generally recognised as a war crime. The civilian deaths in Iraq, for example, are because "most civilians, by far, were killed by other Iraqis" (Iraq War Logs Show Grim Portrait of Civilian Deaths – Iraq War Logs - Wikileaks Documents -

A: Here is the description of the purpose of the website, from the same page:

We the People is a new, easy way for Americans to make their voice heard in our government. It is a platform on the White House website where individuals can create and sign petitions that call for action by the federal government on a range of issues facing our nation. If a petition gathers enough signatures, it will be reviewed by White House staff and receive an official response. We the People helps the White House understand the views of the American people and have a focused and civil conversation with them.

Note "... an easy way for Americans..."

When you sign up for an account, the website asks you for your zip code.

Me: I saw the signup page. Zip code is not a mandatory field

At the very least they do not even try to limit it to citizens

A: Agagooga,
Please do some basic reading on the following wars:
World War II-- In addition to the use of nuclear weapons near the end of the war, cities were bombed with traditional bombs and fire bombs by both sides, causing many civilian deaths. All of this bombing was done by governments.
The Korean war-- look up aerial bombing as well as massacres committed by the forces of both North Korea and South Korea.
The war in Vietnam-- Ever heard of napalm and Agent Orange? They caused vast numbers of civilian deaths.
I could go on and on, but that should be enough to start with. You seem to be unaware of some very basic historical facts.

Me: I thought you were talking about recent wars (post-Cold War). I wasn't aware you extended it back all the way to World War II. People who make arguments about civilian deaths refer to post-Cold War conflicts.

World War II bombing raids of Germany were meant to destroy infrastructure that supported war, like factories. Japan is a slightly more complicated story; one could make a case that the firebombing of Tokyo was indefensible on the grounds of targeting war assets since civilian deaths were so high.

I hadn't heard about the massacres during the Korean War.

Agent Orange was meant to deforest areas - it wasn't a deliberate targeting of civilians. Napalm was also used to deforest areas and to flush out Viet Cong bunkers, but its relative consequences in civilian casualties are less defensible than with Agent Orange.

A: The question is not whether the intent was to cause civilian deaths or not; the question is whether civilian deaths were caused, and what proportion they form of all deaths in a given war. What I said to begin with was that the proportion of civilian deaths in wars is increasing. This is a historical fact. I'm tired of talking about this with you.

Not posted in thread:

The ‘New Wars’ Debate Revisited: An Empirical
Evaluation of the Atrociousness of ‘New Wars’

"Based on in-depth analysis of the inner workings of these wars and more superficial comparisons with wars in the Cold War era and earlier, new war theorists identified several empirical trends: (1) the number of civil wars is increasing; (2) the intensity of battle is increasing; (3) the number of civilians displaced in civil wars is increasing, (4) the number of civilians killed in civil wars is increasing; and (5) the ratio of civilians to military personnel killed in civil wars is increasing.

A debate soon followed where critics pointed out that much of what ‘new war’ theorists identified as new in the nature of contemporary conflicts were in fact not new, calling into question the whole idea that the nature of war had changed (Cf Henderson & Singer, 2002; Kalyvas, 2001; Newman, 2004). Other scholars pointed out that some of the empirical trends identified by ‘new war’ theorists did not stand up to empirical scrutiny and that many alleged trends had at best sketchy underpinnings (Cf Kalyvas, 2001; Lacina, 2006; Lacina; Gledistch & Russett, 2006; Lacina & Gleditsch, 2005; Mack, 2005; Newman, 2004). However, ‘new wars’ theorists and their critics alike have relied mainly on case studies and anecdotal evidence. With the partial exception of Lacina (2006) we still lack systematic tests of the propositions forwarded by the ‘new wars’ theorists.

The claim that the number of civil wars is increasing since the end of the Cold War has been soundly refuted. In this study we therefore focus on the ‘new wars’ theorists’ claims about the atrociousness of ‘new wars’ and put these through systematic empirical tests. Specifically, we directly test three of the four claims concerning the atrociousness of ‘new wars’. First we test the claim that the claim that the intensity of battle is increasing; and second that the number of civilians displaced is increasing, and third that the number of civilians killed in wars is increasing. The fourth and final claim concerning atrociousness, that the ratio of civilians to military personnel killed in wars is increasing, is not possible to evaluate directly in a systematic fashion since there is no systematic data on this aspect of wars. However, we do offer an indirect test of this proposition. If the ratio of civilian to military victims is increasing we should expect too see higher numbers of civilian deaths in conflicts with similar levels of battle intensity. Moreover, if the ratio of civilian to military deaths is higher in the ‘new wars’ period then ipso facto conflicts have become more threatening and dangerous to civilians which research on forced migration has consistently shown should generate higher levels of civilian displacement (Davenport; Moore & Poe, 2003; Melander, 2006; Melander & Öberg, 2006; Moore & Shellman, 2004; Schmeidl, 1997). Thus, by holding battle intensity constant and looking at the variation in civilian displacement and civilians killed we can get an indication of whether or not the ratio has changed significantly over time...

What we find is that battle intensity, measured as battle deaths, is significantly lower in the ‘new war’ period. We also find that the magnitude of violence against civilians in civil conflict is significantly lower in the ‘new war’ period. Forced displacement of civilians follows a slightly more complicated pattern, similar to the trend in the number of civil conflicts. The number of civilians displaced in civil conflicts is significantly higher in the period 1990-1994 than in either the Cold war period or in the period 1995-1999. Thus, although civil conflicts in the period 1990-1994 generate larger flows of displaced people than civil conflicts of the Cold War, there is no consistently increasing trend in the data. On the contrary, the decrease in forced migration flow in the most recent time period is statistically significant. Finally, patterns in civilians displaced and civilians killed do not change when we control for battle intensity, which indirectly suggests that the ratio of civilian to military victims has not changed significantly since the end of the Cold War.

Thus, if anything, civil conflicts in the ‘new war’ period have been less atrocious than civil conflicts in the Cold war period"
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