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Immoral War Is Necessary

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Tagged As: Military, Philosophy, and War

Jus in bello, a fancy term for the means by which wars are fought, is often the subject of philosophy circles. This component addresses the morality of how soldiers engage one another. Before spending time on the morality of how soldiers fight the war, the issue of moral warfighting itself needs to be explored. To address the issue of promoting soldiers to use immoral means of fighting, it is necessary to look at a few scenarios. The first case investigates why conflicts cannot be settled by a game of chess. Following this situation, the second case examines what happens if all opponents engage in completely moral means of combat. The final case will explore the feasibility of using immoral techniques as a means to an end. It may be impossible to prove that immoral methods are the de facto means for all situations, but it is important to open up such a tool as a viable alternative.

Perhaps nothing could be more civilized and painless then a game of chess to settle international crises. Utilizing strategy, ploy, and intellect, a simple match offers a bloodless solution in a fair forum. The critical problem to the chess game is that it has no lasting effects. A society will not allow itself to be repressed over of the loss of a board game. A society's unrest cannot be stifled by the loss of a board game. Furthermore, there are no limiting factors to prevent a society from demanding rematch after rematch. This argument is susceptible to attack as a slippery slope, however, it is necessary to examine extreme cases to understand why they are impossible. Any conflict that stirs passions to engage in war cannot be settled bloodlessly because there is no loss to prevent further fighting. Therefore, a critical aspect to ending and preventing war is the loss of a society's ability to fight and the loss of a society's will to fight.

If a war is fought morally under the restriction of jus in bello, it can only be won by attrition. For soldiers to fight a moral war, they must fight on a battleground that does not endanger innocents. Arguments have been made that declare only vacant expanses of ocean and desert qualify as morally acceptable battlegrounds. The restrictions on who may be killed restrict soldiers to engage legitimate combatants. If war is being fought morally by all parties, than the only combatants on the field are other soldiers who voluntarily joined their respective armies. Therefore, all these combatants have willingly placed their lives at risk for the execution of their society's policy. It is considered wrong to waste soldiers needlessly, however, by definition, their loss is not a sufficient cause for ending war because the combat in which they fight is moral and they are volunteers. Finally, society itself will endure no hardship upon its citizenry or infrastructure. With all opponents engaging each other on designated battlefields, there will never be attacks upon the homes of innocents or the structural integrity of their nation. Attacking such targets is never justifiable by reprisal or deterrent because they were never in danger to begin with. While it is possible to engage in this sort of 100% moral war, only total attrition of manpower or a complete exhaustion of resources can end the combat. Since the loss of the soldiers is justified, under most doctrines, surrender is not an option until the last man has perished. The only taxing effect of war upon the non-combatants is the economic burden of supporting the war effort. If the popular support for the war is strong, it is likely that the citizenry will be willing to endure the resource rationing. The problem with fighting a total moral war is, like the chess game, the decision making body is not suffering any loss. Society is still functioning healthy and productivity is not hampered. Although soldiers are dying, there are no deterring effects to end the people's will to continue.

On the opposite extreme, war fought in the vilest, cruelest, and most grisly fashion imaginable can either lead to imminent victory or agonizing trials of retaliation. At this end of the spectrum, a soldier has no regard for the target; whether they are legitimate combatants or innocents, they are killed indiscriminately. Continuing the idea of indiscriminate killing, there are no limits on the engagement of infrastructure. There are no repercussions for destroying agriculture, transportation, business, etc. The idea behind immoral fighting is to seize the battlefield initiative and exploit shock action. This form of combat allows one force to drastically crush an opponent's ability to fight through unconventional means. Weapons of mass destruction that can eradicate the opposition and reduce the ability to continue fighting swing the balance of war steeply in favor of the force with the initiative. The devastating shock effect caused by slaughtering innocents, destroying food, and obliterating a society's standard can demotivate a population enough to force surrender. Under these premises, it would seem evident that immoral warfare is the end all force. Although it provides a means to quick and decisive victory, immoral fighting opens the door for reprisals and states of emergency among other things. The principle of double effect actually justifies the attack of many such targets and the collateral damage incurred. Double effect seems to be more of a makeshift justification to appease a moral conscious society that would not allow missions against targets within the boundaries where innocents work and reside. Having this abstraction [double effect] allows a society to use it as a shield to perform the very acts they would otherwise condemn as immoral. The aggressors are subject to endure the same pains they inflict, if those acts were immoral. The sheer destruction may in fact rally the victim's will to seek revenge. Immoral fighting seeks decisive victory in swift blows. If it fails to meet its objective, this method only extends the bounds of moral war into a bloodier conflict.

War cannot be fought on the abstract basis of a simple game whereupon nobody endures loss. Nor can it be fought entirely by moral means where once again, there are no significant losses to deter fighting. Pure immoral tactics themselves are impossible for they lead to such utter destruction that mankind cannot recover from the aftermath. It can therefore be concluded that somewhere between these extremes lies a level of morality that must be observed to sustain the human race. On the same note, it is apparent that a certain degree of immorality is necessary to shake society's enough to force the end of war. Therefore, some soldiers will be called upon, to commit ghastly acts of immorality. However, the majority of soldiers will never endure the need to engage in atrocious styles of combat. Immorality is a tool that must not be overlooked as an option merely because it is controversial. It cannot be shunned because certain individuals could not consciously execute the task themselves. Immoral warfare is simply another aspect of war that all soldiers must be prepared to deal with physically and emotionally.

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