We had an interesting discussion last week while watching Flash. They had to get Killer Frost to betray someone in order to save their friends. They talked and talked and talked and finally got the info they needed, but time was of the essence. I expressed the opinion that they should have shot her in the arm and then kept smacking it until she gave them the info. My husband said ‘You’ve been watching too much 24. That’s what Jack Bauer would do.’
Which brings me to the point of this post: Rules of War. Should there be any? If you are civilised enough to worry about rules of war then you’re civilised enough to sit down and sort out your differences without resorting to violence. Like no bombing civilians. Why not? Because they didn’t sign up for it? How are they less deserving of violence than a conscripted army who also didn’t sign up for it, or an army made of people who only did sign up because there were no other jobs available to them? It was put very well in the DS9 episode, In the Pale Moonlight. Sisko wants the Romulans in the Dominion war, on the Federation’s side, and reluctantly approaches Cardassian ex-spy Garak for help. Garak arranges a Romulan ship to blow up and for the Dominion to be implicated. Naturally the Romulans sign up immediately, but Sisko is horrified at the price.
“That’s why you came to me, isn’t it captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren’t capable of doing. Well, it worked. And you’ll get what you wanted: a war between the Romulans and the Dominion. And if your conscience is bothering you, you should soothe it with the knowledge that you may have just saved the entire Alpha Quadrant, and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal… and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer. I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a bargain.” – Garak
Garak knows that as long as it is war, there should be no boundaries.
War, historically, has been down to honour culture which (at least among males) has been dominant. Honour equals physical domination so there was no incentive not to go to war. In medieval Europe war was baked right into the culture. The entire noble class, that was what they did. If you didn’t make war on each other, you went on crusade and made war on some foreigners. But we’re better than that now. We understand that honour does not derive from the ability to beat the tar out of the other guy. So why do we still go to war? I suppose it must be that we like it. Or at least certain people like it. The military industrial complex likes it, but I’m sure the civilians who get bombed have differing opinions, as do mothers who send their sons off by the planeload.