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Cruel wars are moral

Posted By Obadiah Shoher On July 6, 2012 @ 9:22 am In military matters | 2 Comments

Cruelty is integral to wars. Soldiers kill, and have to shut off their compassion. Souls are compartmentalized cupboards: compassion for aliens is shut completely, with no distinction made between combatants and civilians. Sometimes compassion reappears and soldiers give chocolates to enemy children, but that’s about it. Judicial systems cannot offer a moral reasoning why murder is allowed, but not rape and torture. The commonly adduced criterion is necessity: morality should be violated no more than necessary. That argument does not work. Soldiers understand that killing their opponents is senseless and unnecessary. The lives lost in Lebanon or Iraq bring no peaceful solution because a realistic political strategy is lacking. On other hand, soldiers do know that cruelty is efficient, often necessary. Torture extracts vital information from POWs, and mass rape, while disgusting, is extremely efficient in pacifying (terrorizing into neutrality) hostile populations, as proven by warlords in, for example, Afghanistan.

Is that type of cruelty unworthy of civilized people? What war is worthy of any people, let alone the civilized? Unquestionably civilized Germans burned villages in Belarus along with their inhabitants; civilized Australians burned a village in Palestine in WWI and routinely killed POWs in WWII; civilized Jews were breaking the legs of Palestinian children on the orders of civilized Rabin, and on more than one occasion crushed POWs with tanks. Civilized Americans—many of them—tortured some obviously innocent Afghanis to death at Bagram.

The slaughter of war rarely produces the desired political results. Modern warfare is an extremely inefficient enterprise specifically because it is artificially humanized. World War II, a total war of unbelievable proportions, was finished in five years. Minor conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq lasted longer and brought no decisive results.

Wage only such wars which justify drastic measures.


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