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Old April 5, 2011, 05:03 PM   #1
Buzzcook
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Declaration on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body; J

There's been a couple threads that reference the Hague Convention. I thought posting the text of the section in question might clear some things up.

The basic reasoning behind the ban on expanding bullets is in the Declaration of St. Petersburg; November 29 1868
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/decpeter.asp
Quote:
Considering that the progress of civilization should have the effect of alleviating as much as possible the calamities of war:

That the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forges of the enemy;

That for this purpose it is sufficient to disable the greatest possible number of men;

That this object would be exceeded by the employment of arms which uselessly aggravate the sufferings of disabled men, or render their death inevitable;

That the employment of such arms would, therefore, be contrary to the laws of humanity;


http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/dec99-03.asp

Quote:
Laws of War :
Declaration on the Use of Bullets Which Expand or Flatten Easily in the Human Body; July 29, 1899

The Undersigned, Plenipotentiaries of the Powers represented at the International Peace Conference at The Hague, duly authorized to that effect by their Governments,

Inspired by the sentiments which found expression in the Declaration of St. Petersburg of the 29th November (11th December), 1868,

Declare as follows:

The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions.

The present Declaration is only binding for the Contracting Powers in the case of a war between two or more of them.

It shall cease to be binding from the time when, in a war between the Contracting Parties, one of the belligerents is joined by a non-Contracting Power.

The present Declaration shall be ratified as soon as possible.

The ratification shall be deposited at The Hague.

A proces-verbal shall be drawn up on the receipt of each ratification, a copy of which, duly certified, shall be sent through the diplomatic channel to all the Contracting Powers.

The non-Signatory Powers may adhere to the present Declaration. For this purpose they must make their adhesion known to the Contracting Powers by means of a written notification addressed to the Netherlands Government, and by it communicated to all the other Contracting Powers.

In the event of one of the High Contracting Parties denouncing the present Declaration, such denunciation shall not take effect until a year after the notification made in writing to the Netherlands Government, and forthwith communicated by it to all the other Contracting Powers.

This denunciation shall only affect the notifying Power.

In faith of which the Plenipotentiaries have signed the present Declaration, and have affixed their seals thereto.

Done at The Hague the 29th July, 1899, in a single copy, which shall be kept in the archives of the Netherlands Government, and of which copies, duly certified, shall be sent through the diplomatic channel to the Contracting Powers.
So there ya go.
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Old April 6, 2011, 09:02 AM   #2
Bartholomew Roberts
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I think another important point to remember is that the Hague Convention was written prior to discovery of antibiotics. In those days a round that fragmented or made ragged wounds would likely become infected and lead to a lingering, painful death if it didn't kill you immediately.

If I recall correctly, this was actually one of the complaints the Germans raised against the use of shotguns in trench warfare during WWI.

If that is one of the driving rationales behind the Hague Convention, then much of the modern day emphasis on using FMJ is actually misplaced and may even be worse than using modern hollowpoints. If we ever actually end up shooting at someone who is a signatory to the Hague Convention, that point might actually become apparent.
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Old April 6, 2011, 10:50 PM   #3
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Infection might have been a consideration in the Hague Convention.

I tend to think it had more to do with the increased damage to soft tissue and increased blood loss.

A solid projectile is more likely to be a through and through wound. Not pleasant but easier to treat.

Another consideration is that an expanding bullet is more likely to fragment. That leaves bits that are going to be harder for a surgeon to find. A solid bullet that stays inside the body is going to be easier to find and remove.
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Old April 7, 2011, 08:03 AM   #4
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The whole logic of the convention is flawed to me.

War is horrible. You end a war by quickly and decisively ending the threat as you see it.

The notion of making war "less lethal" is so counter-intuitive to me I can barel wrap my head around it.
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Old April 7, 2011, 08:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
The whole logic of the convention is flawed to me.
Civilized men making rules regarding an uncivilized action.
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Old April 7, 2011, 09:19 AM   #6
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
I tend to think it had more to do with the increased damage to soft tissue and increased blood loss.
I suppose that is possible; but it seems to me that many of the 19th century weapons allowed by the Convention are worse in this regard. Have you been able to come across any documents from that time period discussing this? One of the areas I am interested in is the original discussions that took place regarding these Conventions.

Quote:
A solid projectile is more likely to be a through and through wound. Not pleasant but easier to treat.

Another consideration is that an expanding bullet is more likely to fragment. That leaves bits that are going to be harder for a surgeon to find. A solid bullet that stays inside the body is going to be easier to find and remove.
I think given the state of medical knowledge at the time, both of those are very likely reasons for the prohibition. Of course today, you have FMJs that fragment and spray tiny shards of metal all throughout the wound track and bonded core/all copper hollowpoints that expand without causing fragments everywhere.

If my guess regarding some of the original intent of the Hague Convention is correct, then a good argument can be made that bullets like the TSX and TBBC are more appropriate for land warfare than M855.
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Old April 7, 2011, 11:59 AM   #7
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Sorry, beyond finding the text I didn't do any research. After a quick look at Google all I found were pretty general articles like Wikipedia.
It was easier to find scholarly articles back in the day when a 486 processor was hot stuff. Now there is much more chaff than wheat.

Harvard Law School library has several articles that reference the Hague Convention, some are interesting, none dealt specifically with expanding bullets.

http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/...0/docherty.pdf
This article comes closest.
Quote:
While traveling through Italy in June 1859, Swiss businessman Henri
Dunant happened upon the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino. He found
“despair unspeakable and misery of every kind.”1 Mangled bodies, dead and
alive, littered the field, and the cries of the wounded filled the air. “The
poor wounded men . . . were ghastly pale and exhausted,” he wrote,
describing the scene:
Some, who had been the most badly hurt, had a stupefied look as
though they could not grasp what was said to them . . . . Others
were anxious and excited by nervous strain and shaken by spasmodic
trembling. Some, who had gaping wounds already beginning
to show infection, were almost crazed with suffering.2
Dunant’s recollections, A Memory of Solferino (1862), became a catalyst for
the first modern instrument of international humanitarian law (“IHL”), the
1864 Geneva Convention.3
I'll look around some more, but I'm not hopeful.
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Old April 7, 2011, 12:20 PM   #8
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SPEMack618: I think the logic of the Declaration of St. Petersburg is pretty straight forward.

It's the same logic we use in self defense. We don't want to kill an attacker we want to stop the attack.
In war we want to stop the enemies ability to make war. For that purpose a wounded soldier is just as good as a dead one.

If you want to do war math, a wounded soldier helps end war faster than a dead one. In battle a dead soldier stays where he is, a wounded soldier needs to be carried out by one or more other soldiers. Off the line a dead soldier gets buried, a wounded soldier requires the expenditure of resources that would otherwise be used to continue the fight.

The argument that war should be as horrible as possible in order to end it quickly was tested in WWI. It didn't work. Politicians and generals were quite happy to send men and boys into the meat grinder no matter how horrible it was.
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Old April 7, 2011, 02:16 PM   #9
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As a MedEvac pilot in Vietnam and an attack helicopter pilot in Desert Storm, I can say without equivocation that as long as shrapnel producing explosives are used; the type of rifle bullets used is a moot point. War is not a 'game" that you can make rules for, if the human race was far enough advanced to obey rules of war there would be no need; there would be no wars. As long as there are wars they should be fought with maximum prejudice, because the duration is the only true variable to be controlled. The biggest killer of American troops in this, and the later half of the last century, is the ludicrous idea that we can fight a "nice clean" war.
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Old April 7, 2011, 03:05 PM   #10
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The idea of applying self defense legality to a war is a bit flawed.

Also, the idea of stopping the ability of an enemy to make war, and by wounding a soldier, we do more to hamper the enemy war effort is great reasoning, if we're pushing the Germans back across Western Europe in 1944.

There are no "strategic" targets in Iraq for the 8th Air Force to bomb, there is no Taliban industry to destroy in Afghanistan, only fighters, armed with rifles, fighting us, armed with rifles.

This is a war that needs to be ended not by stopping them, but by killing them.

And for it is worth, I never once saw a Taliban insurgent lend aid to one of his wounded comrades. More often than not, they left their wounded for us to deal with, knowing that we were mandated to render aid.

To make this a firearms related rant, I doubt we would here half the gripes about the M-4A1/5.56mm if I could carrying some friggin' 72 grain hollow points in my M-4A1 like I deer hunt with in my Mini-14.

Same goes for the M-9/9x19mm
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Old April 7, 2011, 03:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
And for it is worth, I never once saw a Taliban insurgent lend aid to one of his wounded comrades. More often than not, they left their wounded for us to deal with, knowing that we were mandated to render aid.
Yes, so the notion of wounding the enemy really takes out 3 or more (the wounded, but the handlers to remove the soldier from battle, plus those involved in medical treatment, etc.) is a bunch of hooey if the enemy does not care about their comrads, or in your case, figures they will get better care from the US.

The only forces that are affected by the wounding of one taking out many are those forces that care about their people and want to keep them. In the case of the US, this is taken to the point of being unreasonable, sort of like civilized men making rules about an uncivilized action. So while we may be wanting to kill our enemy as fast as possible to end the war in Afghanistan, not just stop them, our enemy is better off just wounding us. The Hague Convention works well for them because will will risk the lives of dozens or hundreds to save a single wounded soldier, often getting one or more additional soldiers injured or killed in the process.

This aspect of the Hague Convention is disturbing.
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Old April 7, 2011, 03:45 PM   #12
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I never understand that you can toss a fragmenting grenade at a fellow but you cant use a semi jackted soft nose round as in any type of hunting round.

Quote:
a MedEvac pilot in Vietnam and an attack helicopter pilot in Desert Storm
Sounds like my good friend Pat, a ret Lt col Marine helo pilot. He has told me a few tales of helo stuff. We are lucky to have men like you two in our armed forces.
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Old April 7, 2011, 03:49 PM   #13
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It is interesting to note that the U.S. Army must have put some stock in the notion of the resources used even if its not fully true or has some limitations.

As a young private I was put on a casuality evacuation exercise (REFORGER 1986) and evacuated as a casuality that had to play out the role of being wounded.

My wound card said I had a serious chest wound and a serious head wound but that for some unknown reason I had never lost consciousness.... When I got to the aid station they made some notes of sometype or another and then worked on others.... I remember being suprised that no one spent time on me with such grave wounds....

After 4 or 5 hours I asked a nurse why they weren't working on me and she said thats because all the arm and leg wounds had to be done first so that they could return to the battlefield quickly.... I would either be judged dead or treated later...

I remember telling the nurse that if it had been real and I still had my sidearm and no one was treating me a few people might have to join me for letting me die. She smiled and said oh we made a mistake we shouldnt have left you with your pistol...

Good thing WWIII never came.....
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Old April 10, 2011, 01:20 AM   #14
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I will say that I have absolutely no qualms about sacrificing myself, or the guys in my squad to save a wounded Trooper. Granted it comes from the Ranger Creed, but I know we have internalized the notion that no one gets left behind. Sacrificing ten is worth it to me, morally, to save one.

And rendering aid to the enemy is something that separates an American Soldier from a terrorist, among other things.
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Old April 10, 2011, 02:24 AM   #15
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I find the whole concept of human war laughable in light of Willie Pete, Flamenwerfer, Cluster Bombs, Napalm, Bouncing Betties and Hellfires, all of which will turn you into various degrees of gruesomely dead even better than a V-Max

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Old April 10, 2011, 02:10 PM   #16
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Listened to a CD based on survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Civilians running from 'fire worms' which were burning tornado like things that moved from the center of the firestorm. Mothers running with babies on their back - and the babies were on fire.

So today, we have fits over collateral damage.
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Old April 10, 2011, 02:47 PM   #17
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You know, I think I'd rather be shot with a JSP bullet than hacked to death with a sword (a common and accepted military arm in the late 19th and early 20th century). It seems to me that the people who drafted the Hauge convention most likely knew more about politics than they did warfare.
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Old April 10, 2011, 06:25 PM   #18
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While not an expert on soci-politico affairs, nor military matters other than my own little section, I've always been of the opinion if that we made war as violent as possible, it would end faster and be all the more less likely to occur.
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Old April 10, 2011, 07:58 PM   #19
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There was also the issue that a wounded soldier consumed more resources than a dead soldier. In those days, & today in most cases, wounded soldiers were retrieved & treated. That consumed resources that would be denied the enemy to add more soldiers to the battle. Not too relevant today with Naplam, Nukes, Cluster Bombs, and do not forget Human Wave Attacks.
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Old April 11, 2011, 05:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
It seems to me that the people who drafted the Hauge convention most likely knew more about politics than they did warfare.
Agreed. Unfortunately, almost everyone knows more about politics than they do about warfare. Probably not here, but in the world at large it's almost certainly true. Which leads to idiot laws and rules. Just like in every other part of life. Law is the problem. Because Law allows those who just naturally assume it's some of their business to infringe on the behavior of those whose business it actually is. If you read that really slowly it does make sense.
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Old April 11, 2011, 10:55 PM   #21
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Quote:
There was also the issue that a wounded soldier consumed more resources than a dead soldier. In those days, & today in most cases, wounded soldiers were retrieved & treated

Myth, myth, myth myth. Until AFTER WW2, the vast majority of wounded died on the battlefield or laid there in agony for hours.


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