Proportionality Should Be a Guideline of War

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In the film “Fog of War”, one of Robert S. McNamara’s lessons of war was “Proportionality should be a guideline of war.” This means that the ends do not always justify the means; the means used to achieve the end should be reasonable. However, even in the movie, this is not the case. Unlike the other lessons, lesson # 4 has the word “should” in it, meaning that McNamara has not seen this lesson used yet. Proportionality is still not seen in the world today. It was also not used in the past, such as in the 1964 movie Dr. Strangelove. Thus, this lesson has rarely been applied to movies or real life.

In the segment of the movie documenting this lesson, Mr. McNamara talks about how it was not used in the bombings of Japan during the Second World War. In order to cripple Japan in terms of morale and military, the US instituted a vigorous, fierce bombing campaign. US planes would bomb Japan day and night, killing millions of civilians in the process. All of this was done in order to win a war. I believe that this is not proportional. As McNamara questions: should you kill a hundred thousand civilians a night to win a war?

In Dr. Strangelove, it is clear that neither the Americans nor the Soviets have any regard for proportionality to win a war. The Soviets created a doomsday machine that would wipe out all life from the earth if the Americans were to start a nuclear war. They have taken severe measures to ensure that if they are attacked, they will at least tie—by wiping out the Americans as well as all life on earth.

In our modern world today, proportionality is not seen in major ways. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost the US government 3 trillion dollars. The purpose of this war was to stop terrorism, which resulted in many deaths: 6973 deaths have occurred from terrorism from the years 1995 to 2003. However, this number is dwarfed when compared to deaths from hunger—one person dies every second or 100 000 people per day. If the purpose of the war...
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