Ethics of War is indeed an interesting area of study to delve into, especially we could be transcending beyond the business and politics of war into the more basic forms of survival competition and cooperation behaviors to understand why something as abstract as ethics even exists in the first place.
Surely, when the ethical views of a 21st century by-stander behind facebook are compared to the views of a commoner in the middle ages witnessing public execution on a frequent basis would be very different. Our ethical perception has no doubt changed as we embrace social contracts that are more “civilised” and cooperative in exchange for mutual economic benefit. However those who are marginalised and excluded are ready to bring out their primitive survival instincts in extreme times, destroying anyone in their way.
War technology has definitely played a part in our perception. Availability of precision weapons means we are entrusted with greater responsibility to pick the right target; guns and long range assault capabilities have relieved our emotional burden, and in turn makes slashing and cutting, dismemberment more distasteful. Perhaps the cruelty though seem rare nowadays, is not that new either, and what we have only done is introduced more convenient methods to create mass destruction at a physical distance where less empathy is felt.
Perhaps political and economic structures are the culprits. Can capitalism really uphold human rights in a world where resource scarcity remains a perpetual problem or will communism take over in the last of our days? Or perhaps the values that we fight so hard for are only figments to justify our futile efforts, as greater reality of the cosmos already dictated our passage based on natural selection.
With the multitude of perspectives from diversified cultures traversing times; to business strategies and objectives; to organisational structures and rules; there would be a lot to be said and done to denounce any one stand.