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- "I only understand friendship or scorched earth."
- –Roger Ailes
- "War is hell."
- –William Tecumseh Sherman
Historical Context Edit
By the time of the American Civil War – the first industrial war – war wasn’t just about defeating the enemy’s armies, but about destroying its means and morale to carry on the war. Of course from the days of ancient Egypt through Napoleon’s empire civilians had always got caught in the cross-fire, and sometimes were the targets, of the butchery. But it was the Industrial era wars that made wholesale destruction – “scorched earth” – a legitimate military strategy. When the American William Tecumseh Sherman marched across Georgia to the sea (it being a lot easier to burn undefended plantations and towns than actually fight battles), a new era in warfare began.
Scorched Earth: “a military strategy that involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area,” specifically all food sources and stores, transport vehicles, roads and bridges, communications, industrial plants, trade goods, and even the people themselves. Barbarians have been doing this since the dawn of civilization … that’s why they are termed “barbarians.”
While everyone practiced scorched earth warfare to some extent, it was the Soviets that proved most adept. In fact, what the Russians didn’t destroy in their country while retreating during World War II, the Germans did when they fell back three years later. So horrendous was the effects on the civilian population, and later during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, that the strategy of destroying the food and water supply and medical facilities during a conflict was banned under Article 54 of Protocol I of the 1977 Geneva Convention.