. I do believe that by being such a “humane” military, we have lost some of the intimidation factor. An army is better feared (and that is the purpose of an army, to instill fear into the minds of the enemy), when they regularly drink from the skulls of their enemies. That is why so many Iraqis surrendered. They feared fighting the US military.
The Japanese had a lively fear of US Marines in WWII. They were told it was better to die fighting than to allow themselves to be captured and eaten by American Marines. That Marines were primarily recruited in mental hospitals from the ranks of homicidal maniacs. That we would lay down those we did not eat on the soon-to-be runways and grind them, alive, into the dirt with bulldozers and tanks. You would think that it led to fanatical resistance, and it did, but it also led to banzai charges where we did great execution upon the Japanese army. In most cases they went out, not to conquer, but to die – strictly from fear. Sort of a suicide-by-cop mentality. They charged straight into the teeth of interlocking machine gun fire. Much like in WWI, this tactic only led to massive casualties on the part of the attacker. Line ’em up and mow ’em down. In some cases, Marine machine gunners had to push piles of bodies away from the front of their guns to get an open field of fire. Corpses literally stacked up like cord wood.
So we want to be feared in battle, but also known for treating prisoners (the average Joe in the ranks) honorably. Much as we did in Desert Storm. Surrendering Iraqis were treated well, but those who fought died hard and cruel deaths. Many of them ere buried, alive, in their trenches by M-1 tanks with dozer blades on the front. Or they were cluster-bombed by B-52s from an altitude that meant they could not fight back, or were blown up and incinerated by M-1 tanks who they could not even see in their sights. The A-10 was called “silent death” as its quiet engines and supersonic 30mm shells meant the Iraqi tank crews were dead before they heard the jet roll in on them.
That is how the old pirates got their way. If a ship surrendered, they were not abused much. But if they resisted, they crew were slaughtered to the last man. Roman legions worked the same way. If a city surrendered, they survived. If the Romans had to fight for the city, they put everyone – men, women, babies, cattle, sheep – to the sword.