Why are there rules of combat? Rules apply to civil interactions and games. Combat is neither.
Rules give the impression of fairness, decency, civility. They thus make war permissible.
But if war is really about defending your loved ones, wouldn’t you do whatever is necessary? Wouldn’t you ‘fight dirty’ if that’s what it takes?
Rules of combat suggest, therefore, that war isn’t about defending your loved ones. Or even your land, your water, your resources. As Allan G. Johnson points out, in the best analysis of men and war I’ve ever read (The Gender Knot, p.138-142), “war allows men to reaffirm their masculine standing in relation to other men…. It is an opportunity for men to bond with other men—friend and foe alike—and reaffirm their common masculine warrior codes. If war was simply about self-sacrifice in the face of monstrous enemies who threaten men’s loved ones, how do we make sense of the long tradition of respect between wartime enemies, the codes of ‘honor’ that bind them together even as they bomb and devastate civilian populations that consist primarily of women and children?” Good question. So (and this explains the response to women in the military) war is really all about men getting together and hating, hurting, killing women.
Same old same old.