Featured Column
Week of 11.15.2004
"The Rules of War"
           You have to excuse me, but, after reading the International Rules of War as combined in the Geneva Convention I think we need another convention to be held as soon as possible.
          For example, Rule 3 states, “The discharge of projectiles (such as bullets or rockets) from balloons is prohibited.”
          “Another section states, “Neither the parties to the conflict nor members of their armed forces have an unlimited right to choose methods and means of warfare. It is forbidden to use weapons or methods of warfare that are likely to cause unnecessary losses or excessive suffering.”
          Rule 2 defines, “The use of expanding bullets or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering is prohibited.”
          Another paragraph of the Rules of War states, “It is a violation of the Laws of War to engage in combat without meeting certain requirements, among them the wearing of a distinctive uniform or other easily identifiable badge and the carrying of weapons openly. Impersonating soldiers of the other side by wearing the enemy’s uniform and fighting in that uniform, is forbidden.”
            Seems to me that before any war is started there ought to be a conference in the middle of the battlefield similar to the assembly they hold in the middle of the boxing ring where the referee brings the two fighters together and explains the rules to them and then asks them if they completely understand the laws by which they must abide. Then the two combatants touch gloves take a deep breath and proceed with the fisticuffs.
           I wonder how many battles would be fought if the two armies were brought together on the battlefield beforehand and made to listen to the “official” rules of war in advance of actual combat. Would there be questions from the assembled armies such as a lowly private asking, “Excuse me, but is there any chance we could outlaw bullets, bombs and booby traps?.” Or would it be possible that a crusty sergeant would raise his hand and ask, “Could you put in the rules that nobody can use a bayonet, hand grenades or mortars?.”
          And maybe there should be war referees and umpires in attendance once the fighting begins. Any combatant that breaks the rules would be penalized a point. Three points and you’re out of the war and you have to go to the brig until the war ends.
           I surely don’t mean to trivialize war and killing. Rather, when reading the Rules of War and the prohibitions of the Geneva Convention I can’t help but wonder if the authors realized the shortcomings of their efforts.
          The current war in which we are engaged is but another in a continuous line of deadly conflicts which have existed since we first inhabited our globe. Individuals and nations resort to killing each other singly or collectively to resolve their differences. If only the Rules of Law were expanded to include the forbidding of sharp and dangerous objects and things that explode and tear human bodies apart.
          If only referees could call off the battles that destroy the nations’ youth. If only the powerful men who call the wars to order had to fight in the battles themselves. If only the worst that our young men and women had to endure during battles were black eyes and hurt feelings instead of the unimaginable agony, fright and death they have felt and thousands after them will feel. 
          I watch the house-to-house fighting in that far off land on television and acknowledge the bravery and heroics of our young men and women. Without political or nationalistic consciousness I look ahead and see scores of parents mourning the losses of their children. I see the wives, the sisters, the friends of those marching on a foreign shore and I see the dreaded, deep, lifelong sorrow they will endure when notified of their losses.
          I dream about the day when war and killing will be a distant memory. A day when disputes are settled without the fusillade of blood and decimation. I dream of a day when mankind’s ability to reason and negotiate without savage bloodshed takes the place of armed conflict. 
          A thousand thousand men and women before me have dreamed of a time when the killing fields are bare of conflict. 
          We owe it to this generation and all future generations to never stop dreaming of a time when all nations lay down their arms and the killing stops.
          Each of us should continue to dream of that day. Perhaps by keeping that dream alive we will give our youth the opportunity to dream their own dreams.
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ron’s career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ron’s interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger