Saturday, December 9, 2023

Musings on Protecting Civilians from the Ravages of War in Israel and Ukraine

By Rudy Barnes, Jr.  

The news these days is about war zones in Ukraine and Israel where homes and civilian infrastructure are being destroyed.  In Ukraine Russia is seeking to reclaim Ukraine to restore the ancient Russian empire, while Israel is trying to eliminate Hamas as a terrorist threat.   

Russia’s actions are pure unprovoked aggression.  Israel’s objective is legitimate, but their means are not.  Israel needs to use the al Qaeda playbook and Mossad’s intelligence resources to locate and exterminate the leaders of Hamas.  There is no justification for Israel to destroy Gaza to defeat Hamas. 

Ukraine should resort to unconventional warfare against Russia to force a change in their strategy, and the US and NATO should support that shift in Ukraine’s military operations.  Targeting Putin and senior members of his regime in the heart of the Kremlin should cause a change of strategy for Russia.

If it’s feasible to capture Putin and/or his senior operatives, that should be a priority since targeting civilian infrastructure is a violation of the Law of War.  If the capture and trial of Putin and his henchmen is not feasible, then the US and NATO should assist Ukraine with guerrilla attacks on strategic Russian targets.

Destructive violence by both Russia and Israel has killed and wounded thousands of noncombatants and destroyed the infrastructure needed to sustain them.  America can use financial aid to Israel to change their tactics, but America doesn’t have the same leverage with Ukraine.

Protecting noncombatants from wartime aggression is the primary purpose of the Law of War (LOW).  It became part of the law of the land in America with the Lieber Code in 1863, and is now part of international law; but the U.S. has a poor record of compliance with LOW.

In the Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman said “War is hell” and that enemy civilians didn’t deserve protection from the ravages of war.  On his march through Georgia and South Carolina Sherman encouraged his “bummers” to destroy civilian property along the way, and they burned Columbia, SC. In WWII the U.S. firebombed Dresden and Tokyo, and then nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Later, in Vietnam, entire villages were napalmed.  

After the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, President Biden committed U.S. support for Israel’s “payback” strategy to exterminate Hamas.  Since then Biden supported a temporary truce to allow the release of hostages; but when Israel’s IDF resumed the war with increased intensity, it denied Palestinian civilians any escape from the violence of the war.

President Biden should never have assured Netanyahu that America would support his ”payback” strategy in Gaza; but Biden has since said that civilian property should not be targeted, and Vice President Kamala Harris has said that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank.”  

The first obligation of LOW is to avoid unnecessary suffering among non-combatant civilians and POWs; and The latest IDF escalation of the war in southern Gaza has denied civilians any safe place to evacuate in Gaza; and continuing U.S. aid to the IDF could make the U.S. complicit in any Israeli war crimes.  


On How Israel’s fight in Southern Gaza is sparking major concerns, see

On how a resistance movement and unconventional warfare can provide an alternative for Ukraine against Russia, see Musings on a New World Order Based on Reconciliation, not Conflict (3/5/22) at:

On Musings on Shifting Strategies Against Russian Aggression in Ukraine (6/18/22), see

On Musings on the Means and Motivation to Counter Russian Escalation in Ukraine (9/24/22), see:

For an overview of the Lieber Code and General Shermans’s burning of Columbia in 1865, see Notes to the Failure of the Law of War to Protect Civilians in Wartime (11/11/23), at

On Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Hate and Violence in the Holy Land (11/18/23), see:

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