Was Gandalf a war criminal?

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Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby sane max nli » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:44 pm

Reading a rather good book about the fall of Berlin, and it just suddenly struck me.

At the end of the Lord of the Rings, where are the camps full of Orcish POW's? Where the DP Southrons? There are not even a Hornburg Trial of War Criminals accused of hewing the dead or using Blasting Fire of Mass Destruction.

And then, i realised almost every battle in LotR, The Hobbit or the Silmarillion ends with the utter anihilation of the evil enemy. Seriously, if the Hague ever get their hands on Gandalf, good luck talking his way out of that one.

'Now, Gandalf, you were in command at the Massacre of the 5 Armies, correct?'
'No, I was just there in an unofficial capacity'
'I see... an unofficial capacity - as you were at Minas Tirith... The Hornburg.... the Siege of Isengard, or Osgiliath? And I take it you are diclaiming all involvement in 'The Rivendell Project' which at a stroke destroyed a city full of living creatures?'
'Uhh.....'
'And where are the prisoners you took at the Massacre of the 5 Armies?'
'They were driven over a cliff by some eagles your honour'
'By some.... cough... And the women orcs, child orcs? Civilian Orcs?'
'There are no civilian orcs. No women, No Children'
'No, obviously not, after you had finished with them..... are you telling me Orcs just spring out of the ground fully formed?'
'No, that's Dwarves'
(Dwarfish Judge puts head in hands)
'Now we come to the ethnic cleansing of the Shire....'
'Scouring! Scouring! Those were not people, they had Orcish Blood.....'


Anyway, can anyone name a semi-serious fantasy work in which the no-human enemy are treated with at least a modicum or respect, rather than massacred to a goblin? I really cannot, and god knows I have read a few.
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby Australian Dawn » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:36 am

I think fantasy authors must be lazy. After the good guys win the central conflict everything else usually just resolves itself automatically off stage.
If they want an enemy that is in the wrong but still has human motivations and is treated as if they have human rights, they usually just take the easy way out and make them human from what I've read.
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby Drjackson » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:00 am

The Ents and the trees killed all POW and unarmed orcs, while even in the hobbit the Elven king committed war crimes.

The orcs need a messiah to lead them to the promised land.
Last edited by Drjackson on Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby Etranger2 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:03 am

Drjackson wrote:The Ents and the trees killed all POW and unarmed orcs, while even in the hobbit the Elven king committed war crimes.


The Dwarves and Elves habitually engaged in "ethnic cleansing' operations against each other...
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby Drjackson » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:07 am

At least in RallyRoundTheKing when you defeat an enemy you get to add some of their troops to your armies.
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby MartinR » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:05 am

It is perhaps the mythic tradition that victory also means exterminating your enemies.
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby Australian Dawn » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:35 am

MartinR wrote:It is perhaps the mythic tradition that victory also means exterminating your enemies.

A 20th century mythic tradition at least...probably why it's so common in modern fantasy.

But were ancient myths usually so genocidal? (Excluding apocalyptic ones anyway?)
The Tuatha De Danann and Milesians shared Ireland IIRC, and the Asir and Vanir traded hostages.

The people who made the old myths must have been a lot more aware of the realities of warfare between peoples in ancient times and the results than modern day fantasists.
Wouldn't it have been more usual for defeated peoples to be subjugated or enslaved, or for the women to be taken at least?

I think it more likely that Gandalf, Frodo and the hobbits would have ended up with a harem of orc slave wives each, at the very least.... :dodgy:
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby MartinR » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:40 am

The enslavement and/or slaughter of defeated opponents was pretty common practice until around the 11th century. I'm not sure the Roman model of recruiting defeated orcs, wargs and Nazgul into your own army would work too well either;)

You could also speculate that Tolkeins WW1 experience may have led to a rather catastrophic view of the survivability of warfare and defeat, but that may be reading way to much into it. I don't think Beowulf left many survivors (and that was more the sort of thing Tolkein was aiming for).
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Re: Was Gandalf a war criminal?

Postby Australian Dawn » Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:37 pm

I think it was probably just too much of a waste of easy xp to let them live... :froth: :froth: :froth:
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