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Post WWII Resistance, Terrorism, and the Hague Conventions
Created by John Eipper on 09/11/19 3:06 AM

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WWII Resistance, Terrorism, and the Hague Conventions (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 09/11/19 3:06 am)

Following the detailed post of José Ignacio Soler, 10 September, I have some reflections:

There were 146 Spaniards in "La Nueve" when they entered Paris, taking over many key places.  In occupying Eccouche they captured more than 120 Germans, took the city of Andelot and 300 prisoners, retook Strasbourg and also Hitler's Eagle's Nest, at the end losing only 120 men of whom 35 survived.... but were they not 146?

I wonder what the hell the hundreds of thousands of American and Allied troops were doing? Perhaps they were looking for four-leaf clovers if the 146 Spaniards were doing such massive part of the job.

Furthermore I believe that it is time to evaluate more critically the various resistances which were often violating the articles of the Hague Convention in effect at the time.

Art. 1 - a fighting group is of combatants and not of terrorists only if:

a) Its chief is a person responsible for his subordinates,
b) It has a fixed mark (uniform or equivalent) that can be recognized at distance,
c) Openly carries weapons,
d) Obeys the international rules of war.

Other articles that were violated:

Art. 23 - An enemy cannot be killed or injured through treachery (i.e. throwing a bomb in a restaurant or shooting an enemy soldier in the back while he is not in action, such as going to see his girlfriend--both cases in my hometown)

Art.29 - A spy if not acting in his regular uniform can be court-martialed (i.e. see the many young Italian fellows of the RSI executed by the Allies).

Furthermore the civilians in the occupied zones shall not take any military or hostile action against the occupants otherwise they will face retaliation, which if proportional was legal. We have already discussed it mentioning the retaliation of the US, Soviet, French, etc. armies.

Therefore most of the members of the resistances during WWII supported by the Allies with money and arms were terrorists and their supporters were accomplices in their crimes. But, of course, as we have seen, the winners cannot be prosecuted for war crimes.

The new left Italian government is in force from this moment. Pray for poor Italy.

JE comments: The "everything is relative" distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters may not be the best topic for 9/11. That said, it is striking how the Hague Conventions give almost no latitude for the weak to fight against the strong. How do you "fairly" take on an enemy if you have no uniforms, only rudimentary and irregular weapons, and must use deceit as a tactic?

Wikipedia just taught me something. The original 1899 convention was the idea of Tsar Nicholas II.  Teddy Roosevelt proposed the second one, in 1907.

I hope a WAISer or two will send some reflections today on 9/11, eighteen years later.

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  • Terrorism vs Legitimate Resistance: Can We Draw a Distinction? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 09/12/19 2:03 PM)
    Yesterday's post from Eugenio Battaglia (September 11th), commenting on the Spanish combatants in "La Nueve," deserves a response.

    Eugenio's comments based on the arithmetic of casualties in the group and his sarcastic comment on the uncertain role of the "hundreds of thousands of Americans and Allied troops" seems to discredit and deny the important and iconic role of the Spaniards. Perhaps their role was not fundamental or determinant, but the same could be said of the thousands of French guerrillas, or those in other parts of Europe, but it is of supreme historical ignorance to try to diminish the relevance of their activities fighting against the Nazis and Fascism during WWII.

    Nevertheless, Eugenio poses an interesting question about the differences between a "fighting group" of civilians, guerrillas, partisans, militia (or whatsoever you might want to call them) and a "terrorist group." According to the archaic and thousand-times-violated Hague Conventions rules cited by Eugenio, there is a little thin line, if any, to differentiate them. However in my humble opinion there is an unquestionable difference. A fighting group that concentrates its violence on innocent civilians, not military, to exert terror and the promotion of its political ideas, is definitely a terrorist group. On the other side, when violence is aimed exclusively at military objectives, even if some randomly collateral civilian damage is caused, these should be considered of military character, not terrorist. This must be in the context of a radical conflict, violent or not, although whether there is a declared "formal" war or not might be an unnecessary condition to both.

    Maybe this distinction might be simplistic, but it helps to distinguish the wicked character of violence exerted. This distinction of course helps to identify as such the crimes of the Colombian Guerrilla, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the state terrorism exerted by some governments that I need not mention here.

    JE comments: Which partisan/guerrilla group was most effective in WWII?  Like any rigorous scholar (!), I asked Google, which took me to Quora (note my scholarly rigor).  The first answer was the anti-Japanese resistance in the Philippines, which I hadn't considered.  Next, my original guess:  Tito's partisans in Yugoslavia.  They tied down many German (and Italian, I believe) divisions which could have been used productively elsewhere.

    As for José Ignacio Soler's distinction between "irregular" fighters and outright terrorists, I am convinced.  Nacho, would you label a political assassination a terrorist act?  Politicians are not "military," but they're not mere civilians either.

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