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The Immorality Of War Essay

1263 words - 5 pages

The Immorality of War Wars are immoral. The distinction between the rights and wrongs of war is a significant concern to many people. It is difficult to determine whether a war is right or wrong. Many wars shared the idea that both sides believed they were right. It appears that President Truman was right to drop the atom bomb onto Hiroshima to end World War II. Truman claimed that the purpose of bombing was "to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans." (105) However, thousands of innocent people died needlessly as a result. If a country engages in an act of war with the intention to attack innocents, it is immoral.There are no moral judgments in war. War lies beyond moral judgment. War is a world in itself, where self-interest and necessity prevails. People do what they must to save themselves and their communities without moral considerations. According to Richard Wasserstrom, "in matters of war (but not in other matters) morality has no place." (103) War is an activity in which everything is morally permissible, including killing and violence. It is unfair that wars are "decided on grounds of national interest or expediency rather than by appeal to what is moral." (104) Under no circumstances should a person kill another human being. In wars, acts normally illegal are made legal. Wasserstrom states in his essay, "On the Morality of War": "After all, if flame throwers are deemed perfectly permissible, if the bombing of cities is applauded and not condemned, and if thermonuclear weapons are part of the arsenal of each of the major powers, then the remaining moral prohibitions on the conduct of war are sufficiently insignificant to be ignored." (105) In this quote, Wasserstrom explains how war is an activity of limitlessness, and moral judgments on war are impossible. In a modern war, there is no behavior that is ruled out on moral grounds. When there is no ground of morality, wars would be fought with no restraint at all in the weapons used, the tactics adopted, and the people attacked. The popular proverb, "All's fair in love and war," also supports the idea of how anything is acceptable in war. Aggression, self-defense, cruelty, ruthlessness, atrocity, and massacre are many types of actions and behaviors in which morality does not apply.It is immoral for innocent people to be killed during wars. This has been true since the beginning of the bombing of cities, and the development of atomic weapons. Wasserstrom asks some questions about the nature of "innocence", asking whether it is always immoral to kill innocents, and if there is a connection between the immorality of killing innocents and the immorality of the war that does so. Despite what the consequences are, it is wrong to kill. Richard Wasserstrom supports this idea in his paper, "On the Morality of War": "The intentional killing of an innocent person could never be justifiable "" even for example, if a failure to do so would...

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