An open war is a one in which you opt to destroy the enemy.

Opting for an open war opens the gate for a similar war launched by the opponent. No room is left for compromise and deterrence loses any meaning.

In such wars, tactical calculations are not possible. Deterrence is absent and a truce is impossible. It is ugly, bloody, and brutal. Open war is to exterminate, not to create different conditions for coexistence.

It is very similar to the death penalty, except that it is issued against a collective entity, likely a nation. It is a double-edged sentence, coming from both sides of the conflict.

Execution tools differ, based on available destructive tools both sides posses. War ethics do not exist, or quickly fade away.

What is interesting is that open wars transform from tactical mean to force certain terms on the opponent into an official ideology of groups or even major world countries.

What is especially peculiar is that it is still possible to present such a war as the war between the good and the evil, as if both sides of the conflict can still be different.

Such wars have to take the shape of a war between civilizations, between conflicting ideologies that are not possible to co-exist.

It stands contrary to the bases upon which the United Nations was established, against the mere believe that nations with different cultures, conflicting ideologies, or conflicting interests can peacefully exists and resolve conflicts.

It brings us to a point where people who are different are seen as a threat. We want all others to be like us. Grouping becomes racially based and tolerance quickly fades.

Could one attempt to set universal ethical standards for open wars? Could there be a “fifth Geneva convention” to regulate open wars?

What kinds of restrictions will individuals, groups or nations who believe they are facing extermination be willing to impose on themselves?

Is it possible to define non-lethal means, non-combat people, or war-free zones?

The issue turns out to be much more complicated when non-parallel open wars are launched; when one side enjoys overwhelming superiority over the other.

Looking into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the American war in Iraq or Afghanistan , one barely can point to war ethics. The distance between a civilian and a non-civilian disappears. The end justifies the means, and the enemy is no more a human. To claim ethical superiority, war lords start looking at tiny differences and details to distinguish between an act of killing and another label for the elimination of human life.

Whether the killing of civilians was intentional or not (as if the massive non-intentional killing of civilians is legitimate); are warlords are not obliged to avoid civilian casualties, rather than giving a blind eye to non-combat civilians as they are being bombed or fired upon?

The difference between the soldier, the fighter, the terrorist, and the ones who harbor them, bring them food, share them the same space, or provide them with logistical support is barely Terminology such as ‘effectiveness’ becomes the compass leading war lords from both sides.

In Israel , courts legitimized torture as an effective way to extract information. In Iraq , Americans used torture in the most inhuman way and would soon legitimize some levels of torture.

Terrorists or freedom fighters are more interested in targeting “soft bellies” where the blow is more “effective” and painful; intentionally targeting civilians to cause panic, instability, and to implement fear.

In such wars, homes are destroyed, trees are uprooted, people who happened to live in the war zones are strangled, and lives are lost every day.

It is endless simply because no side, no matter how powerful, can win it.

Abductions are practiced by both militant groups and states, and exterminations are done by both with the most brutal means. Does it really matter if it is called targeted killings, beheadings, or blank range shooting? Some are harder emotionally, but all lead to ending a human life.

It might be possible to point at ethical differences in conducting open warfare, yet ethics are eroding quickly, paving the way for an efficient and effective open war.

A nation launching an open war needs to transform the opponent; a necessity to win the war. Civil rights and liberties fade away, paving the way for necessary levels of fear, mistrust, and national unity.

For God sake, terrorists are much less dangerous on humanity than the transformation needed to win the war against them. If thought more thoroughly, the ones who are fighting terror through open wars are in reality joining them.

When the old colonial system was brought to an end, it saved humanity dozens of brutal wars and thousands of casualties. To give away war gains is painful, but without doing so, without accommodating to the needs of the other, and without examining the cause of the problem war becomes the norm and peace and stability fade away.