Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Morality and war

War is one of my favorite examples of morality. The reason for this is that it is one of those extreme moral cases which people under most circumstances do not want to think. While it is easy to dismiss these extreme cases when one considers something like stealing, it is not easy to dismiss when it comes to war as war already is the extreme case.


Morality and war

The one major point to remember when discussing war is this quote by Winston Churchill "History is written by the victors". This is important, as many times we are lead to believe that actions are moral depending on the outcomes of the actions taken. For example, its easy to say I stole medicine to give my sick child if the child lives. Most people in this case would be willing to say this was a moral action albeit a very dubious moral action. On a side-note my favourite Winston Churchill quote is the one where he was presumed to say he would drink poison.

In WW2, the Nazis were killing multiple Jews (as well as homosexuals, gypsy's, communists etc) in gas chambers in what we now all know as the Holocaust. This action of killing is justifiably wrong for a number of reasons such as killing innocent civilians and ethnic cleansing through genocide. However, the Nazis that were doing this at the time thought they were completely rational in their actions. As such this action while immoral to most people around the world at the time, it was certainly not the case for those Nazis who thought they were engaging in a very moral action. So was the killing of the Jews a moral or immoral action? Today it is very easy to say it is immoral, yet if you were in Nazi Germany you would probably have thought it is completely moral.



Now lets move forward in time towards the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Were these wars moral? In my opinion, yes they were as they were very effective in removing a very dubious dictator in Saddam Hussein as well as the dictatorial Taliban government. Now, I will be the first to admit that the reasons for going to war were false as has been discovered. Yet we should realise the good that these wars have been done in removing unjust leaders that were down right horrible to their populace. Also these wars were not as successful as they should have been, yet we know what the underlying problems are and its not the invasions its bloody Islam. So, were these wars moral? Again the answer is yes and no. Also, the argument of look at ISIS now is a dumb argument as it forgets what happened under the past regimes.

I think if you rationally think through any war that has happened you have to come to the conclusion that morality is certainly subjective and not objective. Its that extreme case that leaves you having to make extreme decisions outside of your comfort zone. The only way you can not feel this way is to curl up into a ball of comfort and blind your self to the realities of life outside of your perfect world fantasy.