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Old 06-09-2010   #41
Rex Brynen
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Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
But your first point is one I already mentioned previously in a comment on Algeria war: this was a war among us. And because of that, it was closer to a civil war than to an issurection against an host government supported by external military forces.
I'm not sure, however, that the majority of Algerian (Muslims) saw it this way. Indeed, a variety of French tactics--from torture through to population resettlement--progressively framed the conflict in Algerian minds as a war of national liberation against foreign occupation, whatever the success of those tactics in breaking the military powerof the FLN.

Its is, of course, entirely possible to "win" the battles of counterinsurgency and yet lose the war.
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Old 06-09-2010   #42
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PeterJensen,
The dilemmas faced by state agents in an insurgency, or an emergency have been discussed on SWC many times before. Notably in the threads of rendition, torture, water boarding and more. Try this one on interrogation methods as a taster:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=287

The Algerian war does feature too and a quick search on Aussaresses found several comments too - including his jailing after his book was published (from: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=770.)

Have a look at this thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=1550

Searching on Algeria shows many threads, using Algiers gets fewer.
The methods required to gain immediate intel probably depend on the war and the enemy.

While I am certain we had clowns who played the strong arm stuff it was amazing that among ZANLA (Mugabe's crowd) who believed not without reason that they would not be taken prisoner how a cigarette and a cup of tea worked wonders. Amazing that within a few days they would be back in the field on our side helping to get their mates of a few days back killed. (not sure their weapon had a firing pin for the first few ops though - there was one TT (turned terr as we called them) who got into a punch up with his old mates and was really pissed when his weapon did not work)
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Old 06-09-2010   #43
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Default A couple of thoughts.

First, aren't we conflating very different situations? In some instances, a political opponent is tortured to obtain a false confession in support of a show trial. In others, torture is used to obtain time critical tactical information. Should these two be considered together? The answer may very well turn out the same, but it I am not certain that result should be assumed.

Second, all of us, or nearly so, subscribe to the moral principle that deliberately inflicting pain is morally wrong. We also subscribe to the moral principle that it is morally proper, in fact laudable, to prevent the death or injury of innocents. When we discuss military use of torture, at least in the tactical environment, we seem (at least to me) to be overlooking, or ignoring, or avoiding, the moral dilemma presented by the conflict of these two principles.

I wasn't there, charged with the responsibility for protecting the citizens in Algeria. What I know of the conflict comes principally from the writing of Jean Larteguy and Alistair Horne. I won't assert one way or the other whether Gen. Aussaresses did or did not do the right thing.

But I am automatically suspect of any judgment that fails, or refuses, to take into account the moral dilemma he faced.
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Old 06-09-2010   #44
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Second, all of us, or nearly so, subscribe to the moral principle that deliberately inflicting pain is morally wrong.
You go tell a Marine Drill Sgt that inflicting physical pain is morally wrong

No seriously, I don't think we should assume that all "duress" is necessarily torture.

I believe most intelligent people will cooperate once they have the alternative carefully and graphically explained to them. Is that torture?
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Old 06-10-2010   #45
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Well, let's look at Algeria in a large and holistic manner. This war had several aspects and, at least in France, we are looking at it for what it was just now.
1) A war among us: Algeria war was fought on Algeria and France soil. Algerians and French people took part of it on both sides (les porteurs de valises du FNL). Police operations and FNL operations took place both in Algeria and in France (ask my father how was Boulevard de la Chapelle or Nanterre at that time). Police repression occured in France and in Algeria (Mr Bousquet, Prefet of Paris, was a good handy man in throwing people in the Seine).
2) The COIN side: part from the extrem theorisation from Trinquier and some others and Mr A apologie for war crimes, several SOP and doctrines that came out from Algeria war are exactly the ones put in place nowadays. And from that there is to comment and probably learn.
3) the military rebellion and the racist temptation of OAS... No comments.

In many aspect, this war was extremely different from the ones fought nowadays in Afghanistan and Irak. Saying this, I'll be glade to discuss the similarities and differences between the Algeria counter revolutionary and actual COIN practices.
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Old 06-10-2010   #46
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Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
Well, let's look at Algeria in a large and holistic manner. This war had several aspects and, at least in France, we are looking at it for what it was just now.
1) A war among us: Algeria war was fought on Algeria and France soil. Algerians and French people took part of it on both sides (les porteurs de valises du FNL). Police operations and FNL operations took place both in Algeria and in France (ask my father how was Boulevard de la Chapelle or Nanterre at that time). Police repression occured in France and in Algeria (Mr Bousquet, Prefet of Paris, was a good handy man in throwing people in the Seine).
2) The COIN side: part from the extrem theorisation from Trinquier and some others and Mr A apologie for war crimes, several SOP and doctrines that came out from Algeria war are exactly the ones put in place nowadays. And from that there is to comment and probably learn.
3) the military rebellion and the racist temptation of OAS... No comments.

In many aspect, this war was extremely different from the ones fought nowadays in Afghanistan and Irak. Saying this, I'll be glade to discuss the similarities and differences between the Algeria counter revolutionary and actual COIN practices.
... but you say nothing of the excesses of the other side?
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Old 06-10-2010   #47
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... but you say nothing of the excesses of the other side?
JMA, sorry but for me the excess of the other side are no excuses, in fact detailing excess of any sides are not interesting just not to do lessons. I do not like the idea that excess done by any sides during Algeria war could be used to legitimate illegal actions. France was on the wrong side of History…
My point was just to illustrate the fact that it was a war fought in Algeria and in France.

But, for example, the problematic of “village en demi pension” (occupied during the day by the French forces and during the night by FNL) is interesting and solutions found or their absence to fight against shadow insurgent government could be interesting.
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Old 06-11-2010   #48
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JMA, sorry but for me the excess of the other side are no excuses, in fact detailing excess of any sides are not interesting just not to do lessons. I do not like the idea that excess done by any sides during Algeria war could be used to legitimate illegal actions. France was on the wrong side of History…
My point was just to illustrate the fact that it was a war fought in Algeria and in France.

But, for example, the problematic of “village en demi pension” (occupied during the day by the French forces and during the night by FNL) is interesting and solutions found or their absence to fight against shadow insurgent government could be interesting.
If one is in any way unbiased (or interested only in human rights angle) one would put both sides of the argument and explain both sets of excesses so as to gain context. Why ignore the excesses of the other side? By doing so it gives the impression that you condone those actions and choose to focus only on those of the French. Quite honestly it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
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Old 06-11-2010   #49
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From Wiki:

Quote:
Philippeville 1955:
The FLN adopted tactics similar to those of nationalist groups in Asia, and the French did not realize the seriousness of the challenge they faced until 1955, when the FLN moved into urbanized areas. "An important watershed in the War of Independence was the massacre of Pieds-Noirs civilians by the FLN near the town of Philippeville (now known as Skikda) in August 1955. Before this operation, FLN policy was to attack only military and government-related targets. The commander of the Constantine wilaya/region, however, decided a drastic escalation was needed. The killing by the FLN and its supporters of 123 people, including 71 French, including old women and babies, shocked Jacques Soustelle into calling for more repressive measures against the rebels. The government claimed it killed 1,273 guerrillas in retaliation; according to the FLN and to The Times magazine, 12,000 Algerians were massacred by the armed forces and police, as well as Pieds-Noirs gangs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algeria_War

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Paris 1961:
Despite these raids, 4,000 to 5,000 people succeeded in demonstrating peacefully on the Grands Boulevards from République to Opéra, without incident. Blocked at Opéra by police forces, the demonstrators backtracked. Reaching the Rex cinema (at the same site as the Rex Club on the current "Grands Boulevards"), the police opened fire on the crowd and charged, leading to several deaths. On the Neuilly bridge (separating Paris from the suburbs), the police detachments and FPA members also shot at the crowd, killing some. Algerians were thrown into and drowned in the Seine at points across the city and its suburbs, most notably at the Saint-Michel bridge in the centre of Paris and near the Prefecture of Police, very close to Notre Dame de Paris.
"During the night, a massacre took place in the courtyard of the police headquarters, killing tens of victims. In the Palais des Sports, then in the "Palais des Expositions of Porte de Versailles", detained Algerians, many by now already injured, [became] systematic victims of a 'welcoming committee'. In these places, considerable violence took place and prisoners were tortured. Men would be dying there until the end of the week. Similar scenes took place in the Coubertin stadium... The raids, violence and drownings would be continued over the following days. For several weeks, unidentified corpses were discovered along the banks of the river. The result of the massacre may be estimated to at least 200 dead."[
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_massacre_of_1961

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Oran 1962:
On the morning of July 5, 1962, the day Algeria became independent, hundreds of armed people entered European sections of the city, and began attacking civilians. At the time Oran had the country's highest percentage of residents of European heritage. The violence, which lasted several hours, included lynching and acts of torture, was ultimately stopped by the deployment of French Gendarmerie.Estimates of the total casualties vary widely. Local newspapers at the time[3] declared that 1500 were killed. Dr. Mostefa Naït, the post independence director of the Oran hospital center, claims that 95 persons, including 20 Europeans, were killed (13 stabbed to death) and 161 people injured. Other sources claim that as many as 3500 persons were killed or disappeared. 153 French residents are listed at the virtual memorial website. No effort was made to stop the massacre either by the Algerian police or by the 18,000 French troops of General Katz who were still in the city at that time. Orders from Paris were "do not move," leaving Europeans in Oran unaided. The FLN took control of the city shortly afterward.Many French residents believed that the massacre was an expression of deliberate policy by the FLN, embittering them and spurring the exodus of pieds-noirs, nearly a quarter million of whom fled the city in a matter of weeks, leaving it two-thirds empty and economically crippled.At the 1963 trial of Jean Bastien-Thiry, who attempted to assassinate President de Gaulle, defence lawyers referred to the Oran massacre and claimed that Bastien-Thiry's act was justified because de Gaulle had caused a "genocide" of the European population of Algeria.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oran_massacre_of_1962

Quote:
The career of Maurice Papon as Head of Paris' police force in the 1960s and Minister of Finance under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing's presidency in the 1970s, suggests that there was institutional racism in the French police until at least the 1960s. In fact, Papon was not charged and convicted until 1997-98 for his World War II crimes against humanity in being responsible in the deportation of 1,560 Jews, including children and the elderly, between 1942 and 1944.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_massacre_of_1961

Quite honestly, what ever angle you look at it, it does leave a dirty taste in the mouth.
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Old 06-11-2010   #50
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Maurice Papon was convicted of the 1961 Paris massacre. Who has been prosecuted for the Oran massacre of 1962?

I appreciate that after the French surrender/capitulation in the Évian Accords French concerns were to cleanse itself rather than be concerned about the acts of others. However, maybe 50 years on the emotions have settled to the extent that we can deal with history in a more even handed manner?
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Old 06-11-2010   #51
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JMA,

Unfortunately you have it wrong. We did not trial Papon for what he did in Algeria but for what he did during WWII. Therefore asking for the otherside to be clean is irrelevant.
We, actually, are starting to look at it.

But this being said, as I said previously, several issues could be interresting to look at.
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Old 06-11-2010   #52
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JMA,

Unfortunately you have it wrong. We did not trial Papon for what he did in Algeria but for what he did during WWII. Therefore asking for the otherside to be clean is irrelevant.
We, actually, are starting to look at it.

But this being said, as I said previously, several issues could be interresting to look at.
Yes I regret that error. I do not wish to get into the specifics but rather stick with the principle.

I have absolutely no problem with the likes of Papon being tried, jailed and ostracised by society. His conviction indicates what kind of man he was.

Having been to the scene where a civilian bus hit a landmine I can't for the life of me see the difference between the likes of Papon and the glorious 'freedom fighters' who seem to get away with murder every time.

So 9 people were killed in the 8 February 1962 Charonne 'massacre'. Yes that needs legal investigation but so do the crimes of the so-called "freedom fighters". I can't stand hypocrisy and need to say that.

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Old 06-11-2010   #53
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Default Reciprocity

First off, I reject "relative filth" as a legal defense; but, at the same time, have to acknowledge its practical uses in some areas (e.g., divorce cases).

Once upon a time, though, reciprocity (in fact, the necessity for recipocity) was a recognized component of the Laws of War. I was reminded of that when I was reading through the grandfather of our present FM 27-10 from 1914, then titled "The Rules of Land Warfare"; and found this clear recognition of the necessity of reciprocity (p.11 of .pdf):

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7. Nature and binding force. These declarations and conventions, freely signed and ratified by a very great number of the civilized powers of the world, constitute true rules of international law that are binding upon those who are parties thereto in a war in which all belligerents engaged are parties. In case one power, who is a party to the war, has not agreed to these conventions, or having been a party has denounced the same, or has made reservations as to one or more articles, then and in that case the other parties belligerent will not be bound by the convention or by the reserved articles. [1]

[1] The observance by the French Army of the Rules announced is implicitly subordinated to the condition of reciprocity on the part of the opposing belligerent, for if France imposes certain limitations upon her means of action against future enemies, it is naturally upon the condition that they impose upon themselves the same restrictions. (Les Lois de La Guerre Continentale, by Lieut. Jacomet, p. 26.)
Now, perhaps, we could simply say that our grandfathers of WWI were barbaric Neanderthals; but it might better be the case that they had something in requiring at least a certain amount of reciprocity from opposing combatants - and in inflicting retribution upon them if that reciprocity was not given.

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Old 06-12-2010   #54
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First off, I reject "relative filth" as a legal defense; but, at the same time, have to acknowledge its practical uses in some areas (e.g., divorce cases).

Once upon a time, though, reciprocity (in fact, the necessity for recipocity) was a recognized component of the Laws of War. I was reminded of that when I was reading through the grandfather of our present FM 27-10 from 1914, then titled "The Rules of Land Warfare"; and found this clear recognition of the necessity of reciprocity (p.11 of .pdf):



Now, perhaps, we could simply say that our grandfathers of WWI were barbaric Neanderthals; but it might better be the case that they had something in requiring at least a certain amount of reciprocity from opposing combatants - and in inflicting retribution upon them if that reciprocity was not given.

Regards

Mike

I guess by today's requirements I too would be considered barbaric (and I was one of the good guys). (I say requirements rather than standards for obvious reasons)

Quite often the insurgents make it easy for us to think of them as animals and less than human. The rape and murder of Missionaries and their young children and the bayoneting to death of 6 month old infants in my opinion prejudices their right to be treated according to the Geneva Convention.

We lost the "hearts and minds" competition in Rhodesia because we were no match for either set of gooks in terms of sheer brutality. While the US and the world only took Charles Colson (I believe it was) half seriously when he said "If you grab them by the b*lls, the hearts and minds will follow" he was correct in terms of most African contexts if not also elsewhere.

(If there are any doubters out there they should read up on the Gukurahundi genocide as carried out by Mugabe's North Korean trained 5th Brigade in the years after independence. If a soldier wearing a red beret is seen in Matabeleland today the whole Ndebele nation has a collective bowl movement. The Ndebele nation has been crushed, shattered and never to rise again. Thats how you win wars in Africa and neither the Rhodesians nor later the South Africans could bring themselves to stoop to that level.)

Now how does this all apply to Algeria? I think jmm99's point is valid that for that era the French were probably too soft to crush the FLN and break the resolve of the people. Yesterdays SOPs may well be todays war crimes I don't know but surely it must be obvious that you can't fight a war by the Queensbury Rules when the insurgent binds himself to no rules of conduct and indeed relies on horrific barbarity as a means to his ends.

I don't have any argument against studying what happened during the Algerian War and find the conduct unacceptable or if not acceptable then at least explainable. I certainly can't accept a witch hunt aimed solely at the actions of the French and their agents while ignoring the FLN altogether.
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Old 06-12-2010   #55
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Default Animals vs bad humans

This is totally a personal thought - and not an argument vs anyone who thinks differently. Anyway, as to this:

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from JMA
Quite often the insurgents make it easy for us to think of them as animals and less than human.
I've always liked animals. They act from instinct; and, though nature is very red in tooth and claw, those acts (brutal and unconscionable if done by humans) are part of animal nature. Humans with free will and conscience do not have that excuse.

So, the folks that did what you say (or what Mike Hoare talked about in his book on the Congo; or what Tom Odom has written of Rwanda; and what has occured in any number of other genocides throughout the World during my lifetime) - those folks are not animals, but very evil humans who should be killed one way or the other. Those very evil humans are far below the level of animals by orders of magnitude.

If those very evil humans are roaming the range, the military option to find, fix and kill seems to me the better solution for them. That solution includes the problem of defining and distinguishing the enemy (always difficult in irregular warfare even under sensible rules where a combatant remains a combatant - as opposed to rules allowing "transitory guerrillas" to flip their status on and off).

The question of "Queensbury Rules" would seem to me to come in more when those very evil humans surrender or are captured. Some might say summarily execute them - and that summary executions of irregular combatants were legal prior to the Geneva Conventions. Not so.

From the 1914 US Rules of Land Warfare (linked in prior post):

Quote:
40. Duty of oflcers as to status of troops. The determination of the status of captured troops is to be left to courts organized for the purpose. Summary executions are no longer contemplated under the laws of war. The officers' duty is to hold the persons of those captured, and leave the question of their being regulars, irregulars, deserters, etc., to the determination of competent authority. Land Warfare, Opp , par. 37.
Land Warfare is a reference to Prof. L. F. L. Oppenheim, Handbook on the Rules of Land Warfare (1912), prepared for the British Army.

Of course, at that time, military commissions and tribunals were recognized as regularly constituted courts.

Quote:
17. In cases of individual offenders. Whenever feasible, martial law is carried out in cases of individual offenders by military courts; but sentences of death shall be executed only with the approval of the Chief Executive, provided the urgency of the case does not require a speedier execution, and then only with the approval of the commander of the occupying forces. G. 0. 100, 1863, art. 12.
So, a trial then took place much more quickly than now - and could take place in the field, subject only to limited review.

I can't really see (can't visualize the military actions) where matching the brutality of evil irregulars would gain much for the good guys. If that was being suggested in Rhodesia or South Africa, what tactics were being suggested ?

Occasionally, you see something along the lines of these conflicting thoughts in these quotes (emphasis by me; source in this post)

Quote:
Upon seeing the American commandos, the muhj became nervous, clearly not wanting the boys near their prisoners. A rumor had spread after the laughable surrender deal a few days earlier that the Americans would kill all prisoners in cold blood. In a war zone, that wasn't necessarily a bad reputation to have.

One AQ responded to a question about UBL by saying: "I could tell any Muslim brother where Sheik Usama is; and they wouldn't tell you."

Every nervous muhj guard present during this exchange thought the next action would be an American commando putting a .45-caliber hard ball into the prisoner's smart-ass mouth. But we are more civilized than our terrorist adversaries, a characteristic seen as a sign of weakness by al Qaeda's ilk, and let them live. In a war zone with these people, such compassion isn't such a good reputation to have.
Regards

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Old 06-12-2010   #56
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I have an old hard back copy of The Centurions by Jean Larteguy which explains why the soldiers used torture and is a very good book on counter-insurgency, as is the movie, The Battle for Algiers which were both training aids by the Australian Army in counter-insurgency training during the Vietnam War. For how not to do things, for example torture, as well how cells were formed and used.

An old friend of mine, a hopeless Francophile with a somewhat shady background, explained how the cells worked and why after 24 hours or less, any information was useless tactically for any operation like the one to break up the FLN in the Casbah. Torture was the only means by which the French saw as getting the time sensitive information they required to get rid of the FLN in the Casbah. He explained to me that the French officer in charge of the torture complained to his superiors he needed more men, as the torture was physically exhausting his men due to the time constraints required for the information. This is an example of a time constarint.

A man innocently past a house on his way to and from work carrying a newspaper under his left arm. Everyday at a safehouse, which may not be known to the man with the newspaper, another man checks for this person to walk past between a certain time frame to and from work. The newspaper could be missing one day or under his right arm, or if captured the man does not appear at all. The people in the safe house immediately respond to whatever message the newspaper meant or the dissapearance of the person involved. If the authorities cannot break the person with the newspaper prior to his next walk past the house (which they need the address of as well) the organisation knows it has been breached and takes measure to protect itself. It breaks the cell up, but the individuals just move on. The Army then had to find another messenger or link in the chain.
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Old 06-13-2010   #57
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Default Costs of French Army activity in Algeria

Interesting posts. The "Torture Issue" always gets a lot of attention. I think one of the important lessons to be learned from the French experience in Algeria is how the French people became appalled at the actions of their army and their military leadership when they learned what was going on in la sale guerre. It was pretty clear by the fall of the 4th Republic that Jean and Jeanne Doe in France would not condone the army's behavior in "protecting them" from "terrorists."
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Old 06-14-2010   #58
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Having been to the scene where a civilian bus hit a landmine I can't for the life of me see the difference between the likes of Papon and the glorious 'freedom fighters' who seem to get away with murder every time.
Do you make a difference between a landmine and a drone strike that kills civilians?

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Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-14-2010 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Fix quote
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Old 06-14-2010   #59
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With respect, I think folks are missing the point in the emotional issues that surround torture.
There are two critical, yet entirely separate issues.

a.) Does it produce actionable and useful intelligence?
b.) Does its use undermine the policy?

Fact is, skilfully done, torture works more often than it fails. Anyone saying "information extracted via torture is unreliable" has not thought it through. Torture is a skill, and a team game. It requires training, resources and careful selection of personnel - if you want it done well.
Handing Corporal Doomweeby a pair of pliers and letting loose on some suspect, is not a plan or even sensible.

BUT - Policy. Torture is generally held to be immoral by Western Democracies. It is therefore difficult to set forth a policy based on Western liberal values, if that policy is set forth using torture.
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Old 06-14-2010   #60
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Well, I think that John Grenier point is very relevant. The damage done by torture was more on the army and the support to its operations than the torture it self. You also have to put in perspective that it happened just 10 years after WWII and discovering that the French army was having the same method than Nazi was a in depth shock. But I also see it as a learning process from the army. Painful but for the better.
Saying this, what I found interesting in Algeria war is the incapacity of the French administration to timely understand the problematic.
France did not realise that she could not ask for the colonies to fight 2 world wars for her and give nothing in return. She did not want to see in FNL a liberation movement with populace support before it was too late.

And that is may be one common point of many insurgencies. The longer you wait to identify the political problematic that is supporting the insurgency, the harder it is to fight against it.
IMO, in COIN what is important is the sequencing. COIN as a response is most probably the too late response. COIN operations as a basic principle at the very first moment you take control of an area is most probably the best practice.
Otherwise, taking out the rationalisation of torture based on the fact that an anti communist army is an army of freedom fighter, Trinquier modern warfare is setting the bases of what is actually done. After all, they won the battle of insurgency in a lost war since the very first day.

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