Ed, I was about to give up on you but you finally made some interesting, cogent points rather than simply rehashing your previous statements.
Basically to highlight your comments.
Crazy Eddie wrote:
Exactly: one does not need to be part of the military to still be treated as a combatant.
This is because "armed forces" is not identical to "the military." The military is an armed force, but not all armed forces are part of the military.
You are correct. That's why there are 4 traits used to ascertain whether an organized force is definitely an "armed force" in terms of war conventions. Law enforcement forces can be exempted on a state by state basis (however if they meet the criteria - and they probably meet all but the conduct of war trait so once they start participating in a conflict - they would be classified as military no matter what claim the nation state makes). Some states choose to included them under the umbrella of armed forces and some do not.
However, how in your imagining of Starfleet universe is Starfleet not conducting operations in the conduct of war? If so then by participating in such conduct (even if participating with another "Starfleet Military Force" they would immediately forfeit any perceived non-combatant/law enforcement status and be deemed military.
Police departments that are not military are supposed to be treated as CIVILIANS
in combat. The US determined that Iraqi Police were part of Saddam's armed forces and subjected them to the same kind of targetting as their official military. This is the important distinction. When occupying a foreign territory, if these law enforcement do not submit (in other words if they resist) they are no longer afforced the protections of civilian status and may be neutralized to whatever extent necessary.
Not only does Starfleet fail to submit/surrender/avoid contact in combat situations. They often LEAD the fight on behalf of the Federation. A paramilitary force is required to refrain from using their weapons against military forces or they will be considered a military target.
Do you get the gist of this and how important that would be? In an occupation of foreign territory you often want to use existing government institutions to maintain daily life including the law enforcement arms. By law once you destroy a foreign government or occupy territory YOU
become responsible for the safety and welfare of their indigent population.
Crazy Eddie wrote:
In practice, "armed forces" and "military" are equivalent only insofar as most countries do not use non-military organizations for combat purposes. Some do, however, and historically this has been a problem for people who wish to avoid possible war crimes by targeting armed organizations that are not actually participating in combat.
Any armed force that resists your military using force can be considered military (it loses its paramilitary/civilian protection) and treated (ie destroyed) as such.
Crazy Eddie wrote:
More likely, it's because Geneva and its conventions evaporated into a nuclear fireball during World War III and the international laws that succeeded it were written after First Contact. As such, they undoubtedly include some influence from the Vulcans, who similarly do not have a distinct military organization and prefer to keep their armed/unarmed/scientific/military assets under the amorphous umbrella of the Vulcan High Command.
Ummmm, we are using current definitions of armed forces and military to which legal agreements and precedents are important. Imaginary, fictional, non-existent entities do not play a part in this discussion. There is no vulcan, there has been no world war 3, there is no middle earth and one ring to control us all. You can't just intersperse your argument with opinions of an imaginary world of the future and use that as a basis of defining terms that human scholars have already defined for us. For all you know the Federation's charter closely mimics the Hague Convention. I mean, have you actually read it? Can you say it doesn't match current laws of armed conflict (rhetorical question, as the Federation is not real - so there is no need to respond to that question).
I understand that the laws of armed conflict, military organization and rules of engagement can be confusing and hard to grasp at times. Hell, the US military has created courses and requires ongoing training to ensure these topics are known to our military leaders.