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Tag: Rules of War

The Rules of War

cartoon by phil hands
Cartoon by Phil Hands

U.S. President Joe Biden informed the American people that he personally contacted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, reminding him that Israel must play by the “rules of war” when they attack, level, and destroy Gaza.

The “rules of war?” Really? There are no rules of war. Oh, there are conventions, treaties, and agreements, but nation-states rarely abide by them. When it comes to war, there are no rules. States agree to abide by rules until they don’t.

In the present conflict between Hamas and Israel, both parties have already ignored the “rules of war” and committed horrific war crimes. It is certain that both Hamas and Israel will continue to commit war crimes in the days and months ahead. As of today, Israel turned off the electricity and water in Gaza. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are under siege. Told to flee the rage bombing of Israel, Palestinians literally have no place to go.

Let’s stop with the talk about the “rules of war” and “war crimes.” Such rules may exist on paper, filed somewhere in the bowels of government, but practically speaking, these rules are ignored with nary a thought. War crimes? Let me be clear, “war” itself is a crime against humanity. The governments of the world have spent most of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries slaughtering one another. And to what end? Hostilities cease for a time, something will provoke a military response, and war returns with a vengeance, with no thought given to the rules of war or whether their actions are crimes.

To President Biden, I ask, “Israel has already committed war crimes and will continue to do so as God’s chosen people turn Gaza into a rubble-strewn parking lot. Will you commit to holding them accountable for their crimes against innocent men, women, and children?” No need to respond, I already know the answer. It’s no; it is always no. The United States has a long history of committing war crimes — both intentional and accidental. We have no moral high ground on this issue — or any other, for that matter. If President Biden wants to do something that will save lives in Palestine, how about ending U.S. military funding to Israel? Instead, the President plans to give Israel billions of dollars more in military aid. The United States is funding multiple wars across multiple fronts. According to Reuters, the U.S. is the largest arms exporter in the world — $206 billion in 2022. In 2021, that number was $138 billion. War is certainly good for business, with no thought about the war crimes men and women will commit with these weapons of mass destruction.

Rules of war? There are no rules of war, only carnage and death. There are no winners, only losers.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser