I would like to chime in on my view of warfare and how it colors my opinion of Parson and his tactics.
First, history teaches us that war is inevitable when two nations/beliefs/etc. have differing and conflicting positions, and which positions they are unwilling to compromise or relinquish. Sometimes war is fought in the name of god, sometimes in the name of good/democracy/etc., and sometimes for resources considered vital to that group's interests and security.
Second, history also teaches us that war is a terrible thing that can take on a life of its own. As evidenced in innumerable instances, the 'Laws of War,' Geneva Convention, and other practices intended to restrain combatants are often thrown by the wayside. The combatants' intent is to find and destroy the enemy. When one has brothers-in-arms, dear friends, killed or maimed by those they are fighting...well, let's just say that the notions of propriety and civility are much less attractive in comparison to avenging those perceived wrongs. This is what happened to a great extent in the Second World War, Korea and other smaller, less well known conflicts (such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Chinese invasion of Vietnam and the war between the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese).
Third, the concept of Total War, which was first implemented by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in the U.S. Civil War, and which was, in turn adopted by all belligerents in both World Wars, expanded the scope of military objectives to include civilian populations, infrastructure and production facilities. Obviously the new tactics, combined with more potent weapons, led to civilian deaths on a massive scale. The final objective of Total Warfare is to break the enemy's will to fight, as well as its ability to conduct further combat operations due to a lower capacity to feed the war machine. Again, history teaches us that this concept works.
The notion of preventing collateral damage is noble and should be striven for as an ideal. It does not, however, further prosecution of a war, and, ultimately, a definitive conclusion with a clear victor or victors emerging. In some cases the equations were quite simple: is it less costly for us to wage Total War against our enemy than to fight a conventional war of attrition? For example, when the Allies firebombed population centers in Europe and Japan it was with the specific intent of inflicting as many casualties as possible, with the concomitant goal of destroying any production capacity and infrastructure within those population centers. This tactic did not work to break the governments' will to fight, despite the fear induced in the civilian populations. However, when the United States used atomic weapons against Japan, it brought the war to a conclusive end. The Japanese were faced with unconditional surrender or annihilation. In retrospect, despite opinion to the contrary, the use of the atomic bombs prevented significantly greater loss of life should the Allies have invaded the Home Islands. The Allies were prepared to use chemical weapons, as were the Japanese forces. Casualties suffered by the military forces involved would have been staggering; the death toll among the civilian population in Japan would have been catastrophic to the point of making the Soviet Union's losses pale in comparison. In other words, inflicting massive casualties in two population centers prevented even more massive casualties distributed among most, if not all, of Japan's cities.
Parson is intending to pursue Total Warfare to the best of his ability within the confines of Erf's rules. When one can demoralize the enemy, disrupt the enemy's strategies, and substantially diminish the enemy's ability to make war, it leads to an overall lower loss of life. Had Sherman not marched to the sea and deprived the South of Atlanta's industrial capacity, deprived the South of Georgia's agricultural capacity, and deprived the South of its ability to move supplies and troops vial rail without restriction, the war would have lasted longer, leading to more loss of life.
War is innately vicious, terrible and cruel. No amount of conventional wisdom, political correctness or other attempts to ameliorate those characteristics will change the nature of war. Murphy's First Rule of Warfare: No plan survives contact with the enemy. Similarly, no attempts to restrain the scope of warfare will survive contact with the enemy, at least not on a tactical level. The higher the intensity of the conflict, the higher the stakes, the more likely it is that the belligerents themselves will cast aside the notions of limited warfare in favor of prosecuting the war to the fullest extent possible.
History teaches us that, and, like warfare, human behavior is not likely to change any time in the foreseeable future.
From my perspective, Parson is doing the right thing.
"Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
- G.K. Chesterton
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