[KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question

Kent Davy kentdavy at gmail.com
Tue Apr 17 21:56:23 EDT 2012

I don't think anyone claimed that war was a "necessary" component of the
human condition.  I certainly didn't suggest that the Geneva Conventions
constitute "the moral, even ethical or humanistic treatise on how to go
about war and war crimes", let alone a definitive answer key to historical
questions; indeed I explicitly stated that they could not be considered
dispositive, but merely a starting point for discussion.  You are largely
arguing with a straw man of your own making - although you do make the
useful contribution of specifying some of the reasons why the GC cannot be
considered historically definitive.

In the Vietnam war film "We Were Soldiers Once and Young", the commander of
the 7th Cav, Lt. Col. Harold Moore, in one scene meets the reporter Joe
Galloway on the battlefield. He asks Galloway why, given his family and
regional background, and his evident courage, Galloway isn't a soldier.
 Galloway responds by observing that while he didn't think he could do
anything about the current conflict, he thought he could at least try to
understand it.  It seems to me that neither ascribing war, let alone
specific events in particular war, to the black box of "Human Nature", nor
engaging in a collective incantation of kumbaya will contribute to such an
understanding of the Vietnam War or any other.
"The purpose of today's training is to defeat yesterday's understanding."

On Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 10:52 PM, Frank Hoffmann <hoffmann at koreaweb.ws>wrote:

> The debate about the claimed necessity of wars won't come to any result
> here, I fear.
> But I like to make another point--a direct response to the original
> "mercenaries" question:
> By (a) accepting war as an inevitable part of human civilization at all
> ages, and by further, and as a logical consequence, (b) accepting something
> like the "Geneva Conventions" as the moral, even ethical or humanistic
> treatise on how to go about war and war crimes--THAT really limits any
> historical analysis, as the rhetoric frame with all its definitions is then
> already set. (If you do that you can as well discuss child abuse in a
> Catholic monastery and hope for the truth to be revealed. Here the result
> is history as it is being produced by military historians.) The very
> internal logic of the "Geneva Conventions" is in my eyes deeply inhumane as
> their existence inevitably produces (in the interest of national powers)
> the idea that a war can be fought in an ethical way rather than being the
> most barbaric thing humans are able of. Why then shall we *as historians*
> or cultural historians care how e.g. the "Geneva Conventions" define
> "mercenaries"? The "Geneva Conventions" are a politically *negotiated* and
> re-negotiated and permanently updated set up contracts among the most
> powerful nations. We all can certainly have different understandings of how
> we get to the truth, our truth, but one thing for sure: truth is by
> definition nothing that is negotiable, and forgive me, I do not know about
> you, but I at least do not care too much if I get killed by a "clean"
> bullet or a "dirty" bomb, and not even what nationality that bomb has. Dead
> is dead, and that is a rather unpleasant state to be in, even if the Geneva
> Conventions won't find fault with conventional clean bullets.
> In short: whatever one thinks about that claimed necessity of
> wars--negotiated international contracts seem rather problematic as
> dictionary of terms if and when we want to research and explain reality (as
> are religious and political belief systems). There is much more to say
> about this, but I stop it here.
> Since we are already in Switzerland, let's move from from Geneva to
> Berne--no, not the Berne Convention--just the other unrelated thread about
> Kim #3: that Daily Mail newspaper article Kwang On Yoo just mentioned, and
> there were other very similar ones in other papers in the past several
> months ... just wanted to add that Kim #3 must have been in Swiss schools
> before 1993. A Swiss friend of mine, a hobby-journalist who had interviewed
> and written about Korean A-bomb victims in Japan, and who I had first met
> in Korea, asked me in 1990 or 1991 to join him in setting up an interview
> with Kim Jong Il. That was after the World Youth Festival and still several
> years before Kim Il Sung died, but it was already clear then that Kim Jong
> Il would be the new strong man following Kim #1. We went to the North
> Korean Embassy in Berne to talk about details. We spent half the day there,
> and then seemingly a vase went into pieces outside and a maybe nine years
> old boy came in, didn't say a word, no 'hello' no nothing, but when I asked
> him some harmless question he just, for the fun of it, but unexpectedly,
> throw the football in his hands at my face. That was Kim #3. The ambassador
> had talked around it, but there was no doubt that this was a son of Kim
> Jong Il. And I do clearly remember that he also said that the boy would be
> in a boarding school there, but would stay in the embassy during the
> summer. (His cook, mentioned in the article, was also with him and kind of
> baby-sitting him.) ... What do I want to say with this? Nothing, really
> nothing. Just interesting, as he must have indeed an extensive experience
> of Europe, possibly other countries.
> Best,
> Frank
> --
> ------------------------------**--------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreaweb.ws
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