It is impossible to head a chapter ‘The Laws of War’ without thinking of that famous chapter on Iceland headed ‘The Snakes of Iceland,’ wherein the writer simply informed his readers that there were none in the country. ‘The laws of war’ make one think of the snakes of Iceland.
Nevertheless, a summary denial of their existence would deprive the history of the battle-field of one of its most interesting features; for there is surely nothing more surprising to an impartial observer of military manners and customs than to find that even in so just a cause as the defence of your own country limitations should be set to the right of injuring your aggressor in any manner you can.
What, for instance, can be more obvious in such a case than that no suffering you can inflict is needless which is most likely permanently to disable your adversary? Yet, by virtue of the International Declaration of St. Petersburg, in 1868, you may not use explosive bullets against him, because it is held that they would cause him needless suffering. By the logic of war, what can be clearer than that, if the explosive bullet deals worse wounds, and therefore inflicts death more readily than other destructive agencies, it should be used? or else that those too should be excluded from the rules of the game—which might end in putting a stop to the game altogether?