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Looking At Civilians And The Armed Forces Criminology Essay

Civilians are persons who are not engaged in the armed forces and are not combatants. There exists an explanation for who is a member of an armed force, federal force, or a combatant in the international humanitarian law. International humanitarian law does not allow the use of violence against civilians as an approach to warfare. However, many cases are still noticed on this violence and is a commonly practiced atrocity. Cases of various planned violence involving the civilians are evident and are found in war crimes such as terrorism, suicide bombs, disappearances, sexual assaults, and even ethnic cleansing. 

According to Downe, the explanation for the civilians’ deaths and casualties can be explained by the apparent willingness by U.S. armed forces and its leadership strategists to release heavy bombs and fire missiles into areas that are densely populated with civilians. A heavy bomb and fire missiles must necessarily result in huge numbers of civilian casualties because of proximity to 'military targets'”, a fact normally evidenced by admitted occasional poor shooting and targeting of missile areas, human error, equipment breakdown, and the negligent and reckless use of out-dated guide maps. American armed forces seem to sacrifice certain civilians’ lives in order to protect the future American lives.

It is evident that one of the reason for civilians’ casualties is racism, American Air Force (AAF) did unleashed atomic bombs on the Japanese and not the Germans just because of the race. The Americans believed that the people from Japan were subhuman vermin and needed to be killed. Arguably it can be said that the Americans viewed the Japanese people as uncivilized people and therefore did not need any protection from the civilized nations. President Truman himself is on record having despised the Japanese to the extent of calling them “beasts” and therefore they were to be treated like “beasts” (Downe)

It has also been argued that the reason for civilian casualties largely depends on culture of land and power. The German culture did not allow its armed forces to injure its civilians but strategized other means to deal with the combatants. It encouraged them to develop medium and dive bombers but avoided the use of heavy bombers that could seriously affect the innocent civilians. As a result, them the Luftwaffe did not use the four-engine bomber to fight its combatants but employed the means of furthering the land and aimed at defeating the enemy forces and not injuring the civilians.

Many of the civilian’s casualties and deaths have arisen due to the fights for an interest. The reason for including civilian noncombatants may also be explained from a philosophical point of view referred to as "Just War Theory." The approach emanated from Greek and Roman philosophy, but since it has been developed to reconcile the basic concept of immorality killing that has justified civilians being sacrificed in some situations,. The theory argues that violence is morally necessary in cases of self-defense and to prevent the future invasion of the innocent. The theory attempts to define when civilian’s rights are subject to military force, and the most ethical applications of such force.

In explaining the reasons behind civilians becoming victims of wartime, it is to be noted that as distinguished by scholars of air power in World War II, loss of moral constraints has a huge role to play. The moral constrain that shapes one behavior and attitudes were eroded until the warring factions could not question themselves about the morality of their deeds and ended up releasing atomic weaponry to the huge number of civilians.

Public opinion and electoral accountability explains how and the why of civilians becoming victims of wartime. It was evident that by the time American entered World War II, it was full of public opinion and had agreed to bombing of Germany and Japan. It is seen that opinions by the public and discussions in public forums have a huge impact in civilians’ safety. It was the American public overwhelms that led to firebombing of the Japans cities. In the opinion, 67% were for the idea that Japan ought to be exterminated because of their uncivilized nature.

While attacking the Japanese civilians, the U.S. used fire, the decision to use fire was due to the forms of buildings that were there. The buildings were largely of timber and was an easy target for the American armed forces; eighty percent of Japanese cities had been built on wood and paper materials. The other reason that is noted is due to the long distance and the oceanic nature. It was very hard for them to launch a direct attack on their grounds considering their defenses since it would have been very costly for the battle to be won and would have involved significant human cost.

In his article Motives For Martyrdom: Al-Qaida, Salafi Jihad and the Spread of Suicide Attacks, Assaf Moghadam defines terrorism as an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants. The notion that suicide bombers are insane or influenced by drugs or religious fanatics is wrong. Studies has shown that these individual bombers portray no personality disorders but their actions could be to various reasons and often politically motivated and aimed at attaining certain objectives or goals such as gaining greater support. In many instances the drive to suicide bombs could be due to or the need to humiliate, revenge, or altruism. Without acknowledging the forces behind one’s motivations and resolving them, it is likely that a nation seeking to end this social evils are likely to be disappointed.

Arguably most suicide bombing occurs since suicide bombers normally believe that they undertake suicide actions for altruistic motives. It cannot be argued that suicide bombers act irrationally, but act under their “martyrs” believes (Moghadam). They believe that the outcomes of carrying out a successful suicide attacks exceed the costs. Suicide bombers do believe that it would be impossible for them to be profiled because of the nature of their background and their diverse origins. Suicide does happen because the perpetrators do not have salient psychopathology and would always rush to claim mental illness as a reason for their actions. Strong indications are that the reason for suicide is mainly for revenge, expected benefits after deaths or for personal crisis. Scholars also do argue that the reasons for committing suicide bombing could be political; they argue that suicide bombers believe in violence so as to progress politically. Suicide bombers also perform suicide attacks to satisfy their rational goals.

According to Moghadam, the most widespread cause of terrorism is self dissatisfaction with a “political or social policy or the fraternity itself and an inability of the host to change it with non-violent means”. Thus the hosts become terrorists as they consider the existing position of the world is not as it was intended to be, and they accuse a specific group for this situation. They turn to terrorist acts because their interest are no gathered to and their objectives are not attained which include basic survival to advanced and tactical plans to achieve.

Suicide bombings are normally undertaken by individuals who may be motivated and their motivation source is community. It could be the threats the communities are facing, the humiliation that are being directed upon them, and other unpleasant situations. Strategies are needed to induce such a community to leave these forms of revenge and rather employ other means such as international relations development as this surely would curtail support for terrorist organizations. Ways for eliminating and comprehensive addressing of their collective complaints in concrete and effective ways would have a huge importance and are necessary if the civilians’ peace and confidence is to be restored. It should be remembered that immediate impact on alleviating the situations that promotes the formation of subcultures of suicide attacks are demanding and needs the attention of various states. It is to be remembered that suicide attacks and civilian suffering will not diminish without solid support and tangible progress.

According to Moghadam, suicide terrorism does affect the civilians because they do not have means to protect themselves, they cannot tell when an attack will occur and possibly the means to minimize losses are not there. Often inspired by political targets, terrorism attacks are global.  Most consider terrorism as a kind of war but without the laws and guidelines of conventional conflict. This makes terrorist actions unpredictable because its aspects are never within limits. Even though terrorism actions have declined over the years, its impact have increased such that should one attack occur, many civilians are affected seriously.

The suicide actions ensue especially when an individual or a group of individuals are dissatisfied with a political or social policy or the fraternity as whole and when those responsible do not want to change the status to fit all. Accordingly, in such situation the dissatisfied parties engage in terrorist activities since they consider the existing status a treat to their position on the world. They end up accusing the other parties for the unpleasant status thus committing suicidal acts which finally affect the civilian.

Moghadam notes that “at times terrorism occurs when terrorism and religion are interconnected.” They use this objective when they think that there is no other way to affect the form of alteration they crave for. The said desire for an objective is craved so badly that if it not attained, alteration is seen in form of more evil than that of the deaths of innocent civilians.

Moghadam notes that for an individual who carries out the suicide attacks, it is not about dying and killing alone, but the reasons underlying the act. He has that there is a broader importance for attaining certain multiple objectives which is either personal or communal. These could include seeking revenge for personal and collective humiliation, support, liberating the homeland, society approval, or to achieve a political ambition.

In the article Wartime Sexual Violence in Guatemala and Peru, Leiby defines sexual violence as an assault of a sexual form on another person without that person’s consent. Sexual assault is normally done by a man to a woman but in the current society cases of men assaulting other men, women assaulting men , and women assaulting women are evident. Many cases are now seen on sexual assaults done by adult on a child, child on a child, adult on an adult, or child on an adult and portray how the society’s morals are wanting. According to Leiby, sexual violence are notably committed during wartime and are committed mostly by state armed forces while engaging war and the most affected are women and children (young girls). Sexual violence is known to vary in extent and takes various distinct forms. Leiby notes that in some wars, sexual assaults are widespread, but in others, such cases are minimal and quite limited.

According to Leiby, ‘some wars, sexual assaults could be happening as sexual slavery and sexual torture in detention’. Leiby did evaluate the relationship that is normally seen between strategic decisions made by those responsible for state security, armed forces leadership, the values of combatants, and the level of effectiveness in the military discipline.

According to Leiby sexual violence takes these forms: rape, political unrest, human rights abuse, and war. It is noted that while sexual assaults are committed and occurs in almost entire wars, the level of their occurrences vary across countries and takes different forms. The most notable examples occurred during the warfare in Bosnia-Herzegovina where Muslim women were sexually abused in a systematic move by the Bosnian Serb forces and it was so intensive that it attracted the attention of the whole world. It was considered the greatest crime done against women and humanity in general under international law.

In answering the part how do such cases happen, it is noted that sexual assaults occurs in different forms, it can be through sexual slavery, where women are kidnapped or abducted to be sexual pets and sexual partners for the warring combatants. It is also noted that in some wars sexual violence takes the form of torture in detention. Leiby also notes that in certain wars, women can be a target group especially if they are from a certain ethnic community.

In certain warfare only women and girls are targeted at so that they can serve the combatants’ sexual needs. In some situations, men as well are a target. Sexual violence has been committed in all levels including individual, groups, in private settings, public, in front of family, or community members. Sexual violence has been committed in a symmetric and systematic manner, with no human feelings at all; it is done in a rough manner that brutally affects the sexual victims.

It is noted that the reasons as to why such cases occur is the lacking side on the relationship between strategic decisions made by the armed forces leadership. There is lacking on the norms and values that shape attitudes and behaviors of combatants and poor effectiveness and efficiency on the military discipline. All the problems seem to point to the eroding social and societal norms and values, the diminishing cultural behaviors and the growing individualism. Sexual violence seem to have adapted to forced prostitution as most young girls and women were taken to the military barracks and grounds to serve the forces.

According to Leiby sexual violence also happen because women and children during wartime run to the camps of armed forces hoping to be rescued but it turns out to be different. Instead, they end up being assaulted. According to Leiby “wartime leads to a rise in sexual assaults because wartime experiences raises the need to engage in it, not merely the available chances to do so.” Another reason for the sexual assaults could be biological; there seems to be a causative link between testosterone that drives sexual desire and the aggression used in war.

Leiby argues that sexual violence is used as a weapon of war but causative relationship cannot be explained for. Wartime sexual assaults is complicated social and political aspect that violates a victim’s rights, it has been used and is still used by perpetrators to undermine the strength of the target group. Leiby’s focus was on comparing and analyzing the sexual assaults that were experienced during the Guatemalan and Peruvian civil wars and committed by the armed forces.

Leiby also looks at the type of sexual assaults and the situation in which it happened and provides detailed insights regarding the motives that underlie its use in wartime. Her findings proved that most of the sexual assaults were committed by the state armed forces and that the most affected members are the women and young girls who are raped and gang raped. It was observed from the study that sexual violence is used as a weapon of war by most countries.

Women experience insurmountable obstacles when fighting for their rights, they normally undergo stigma and dishonor because of the sexual violence they face.

The various resultants of war such as suicides, sexual assaults, use of bombs, ethnic cleansing and terrorism have a huge negative impact on the civilians. The most affected groups in any war are women and children and therefore attention needs to be focused on them. Most of the factors that cause civilians to suffer also ought to be dealt with. Finally, the armed forces and their leadership need to be reformed both to avoid harassment and to provide security to the citizens.

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