War Is Hell

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War is Hell
A review of chapter 2, 'The Crime of War' in Michael Walzer's book, "Just and Unjust Wars: A moral argument with historical illustrations." Allen Lane 1997.

In this chapter, Walzer discusses the cruelty of war and whether there can be any justification for such cruelty. He begins by distinguishing between the justice of war (jus ad bellum) and the justice in war (jus in bello). "War is always judged twice, first with reference to the reasons states have for fighting, secondly with reference to the means they adopt." (p.21).

However, here Walzer sought to explain the logic and the tyranny of war. The logic of war requires a reciprocal action on the part of each of the adversaries. Each forces the hand of the other and in so doing delves deeper and deeper into bloodshed. According to General Eisenhower, "When you resorted to force you didn't know where you are going...If you got deeper and deeper there was just no limit except ... the limitations of force itself." (p.23).

Walzer makes a distinction between wars that are described as hell and other more benign forms of fighting. The warfare that involves aristocratic young men competing in tournaments of some sort would not be described as hell. These sorts of war are creative and beautiful. It is a type of disciplined contest that is based on the consent of the players. Though this type of play may lead to death it could not be described as hell. It is less bloody and more romantic in its presentation. "Those men who don't run away, but stand and fight, do so not because of the necessities of their case, but freely, as a matter of their choice" (p. 26).

Another example of the consent of war which lessen the horror of the fight is the mercenary solders in Renaissance Italy. For the most part these types of fighting were done "by industry and cunning rather than the actual clash of arms." (26). However, some of these mercenaries were recruited from among desperately impoverished men who had...
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