eternal returnone in a series, ironically enough
Readers with JSTOR access will enjoy U.S. Army Captain Elbridge Colby's 1927 essay in the American Journal of International Law titled, "How to Fight Savage Tribes." The reasoning is strikingly familiar:
When Oriental peoples are accustomed to pillaging and being pillaged, accustomed to torturing and flaying alive distinguished prisoners, you are dealing with opponents to whom the laws of war mean nothing, who, as General Hull said of the American Indians, "respect no rights and know no wrong." Against such it is not only perfectly proper, it is even necessary, to take vigorous measures...Exterminate the brutes! An argument that never gets old, apparently.
It is good to be decent. It is good to use proper discretion. It is good to observe the decencies of international law. But it is a fact that against uncivilized people who do not know international law and do not observe it, and would take advantage of one who did, there must be something else...
To a Frenchman, a shell striking Rheims Cathedral -- signal station or not, it makes no difference -- or a bomb exploding on a railroad train -- military men therein or not, it makes no difference -- is a lawless act of the enemy which infuriates the temperamental soul and arouses wrath and gives a fine incident for overseas propaganda. To a fanatical savage, a bomb dropped out of the sky on the sacred temple of his omnipotent God is a sign and a symbol that that God has withdrawn his favor. A shell smashing into a putative inaccessible village stronghold is an indication of the relentless energy and superior skill of the well-equipped civilized foe. Instead of merely arousing his wrath, these acts are much more likely to make him raise his hands in surrender. If a few "non-combatants" -- if there be any such in native folk of this character -- are killed, the loss of life is probably far less than might have been sustained in prolonged operations of a more polite character. The inhuman act thus becomes actually humane, for it shortens the conflict and prevents the shedding of more excessive quantities of blood.
These things should be recalled when "civilized" troops make war on "uncivilized" people.