Military Ethics

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Colin Fry
October 23, 2008
War Assignment

Military Ethics
War has always been, and will always be, a necessary action perpetrated by the human race. There are many different reasons for war: rage, passion, greed, defense, and religion to name a few. When differences cannot be solved or compromised through mediation with an opposing party and anger burns with a fiery passion, war is the last remaining option. Obviously, the purpose of any war is to win. How are wars won? Perhaps if we were to ask a member of the Defense Department during the early stages of the war in Iraq, his answer might be, “To win this war we must force the enemy into submission by means of ethical warfare.” If we were to ask a marine in the Second World War what he was told by his commanding officer he would reply, “To close with the enemy and destroy him.” (Fussell, 763). The member of the Defense Department and the marine have a common goal; to win the war. But there is a difference in their mindsets. The politician, safe behind his desk, has never experienced the fear and terror of being in battle. He has not seen the blood or heard the screams of suffering soldiers. He has not watched his best friend die in his arms after being hit my enemy fire. He is an onlooker, free to analyze and critique every aspect of the war from the safety of his office. He is free and safe to talk of ethics and proper war etiquette. The marine, immersed in battle, fighting for his life, can think of only one thing. Kill or be killed. When bullets are flying past his face and mortar shells are exploding all around him, he is not mindful of fighting ethically. Nor is he even mindful of fighting for his country. He is fighting for his life. To stay alive, he must kill the enemy, destroy the enemy. The longer the war persists, the more likely he will not go home alive. In regard to Friedrich Hegel’s quote, “What experience and history teach is this--that people and governments...
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