War is hell when and wherever it happens, but the deliberate targeting of civilians is a relatively new phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, people have been brutalized by conquering armies for millennia, but that was generally after their army was defeated on the battlefield, far from civilian homes, land and property.It was called a Gentleman’s War and usually involved fanfare, drums and strict infantry marches across an open field. It was as barbaric as it was orderly, and millions of soldiers died. In World War I, European countries sent an entire generation to die in countryside trenches. But major cities and towns were generally off-limits as gentlemen generals considered it inhumane to target civilian non-combatants.
However, since the start of World War II the game changed, and tragically civilians often become the primary target.
Ain’t no Gentlemen here
War has become a much more personal affair for the populace of warring nations. Carpet bombing of cities across Europe and Japan intentionally targeted civilians in the hopes of sapping the will of people and governments. Reducing cities to ash not only destroyed critical wartime infrastructure like munitions factories and infrastructure, but also destroyed the homes, hospitals and schools necessary to support innocent people.
Those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat their mistakes
Targeting civilian populations is both barbaric and reprehensible and the perpetrators of such atrocities must be held accountable. The old saying ‘To the victor belong the spoils’, means that winning on the battlefield leads to the wealth and prosperity of the vanquished nation changing hands. However, when civilians, their homes land and property and public infrastructure are destroyed, the spoils are not worth the effort.
Why anyone would want to pulverize a city to dust just to win is beyond me. What did the Assad regime gain from destroying Aleppo? What would Putin achieve by ‘liberating’ the Donbas region of Ukraine after he’s levelled it? This is war without a conscience and without purpose because there is nothing to gain, and no spoils for the victor.
For what it’s worth
Estimates of the cost to rebuild Ukraine range from $350 billion to over $1 trillion, and the victor will eventually pay one way or another.