Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reasons to Avoid War

Most people would think that reasons to avoid war would be obvious to anyone, but I think this reason is very damning to our current war efforts. The New York Times had an article about various murder cases related to the war in Iraq.

Later in the article it discusses a case where an Iraqi civilian was killed by American military personnel. This doesn't sound strange considering it is a war, but this is what caught my eye:

As part of the plea agreement, Private Jodka testified that he participated in a plan formed by the squad leader, Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins, to kidnap and kill a known insurgent. In the dark, the squad kidnapped and killed the wrong man.

This is a perfect example of military personnel doing something wrong which they justify as being right in the name of war. I am not talking about the mistake of getting the wrong man in the dark. I am talking about the plot to abduct and kill a terrorist. If it had been a legitimate operation they would have been planning to capture and interrogate the terrorist. In that case, getting the wrong man would have meant that they could free him.

Why this is a good reason not to go to war is that anytime we go to war we set the stage for these kinds of "operations" orchestrated by men like Sgt. Hutchins (who appears to deserve the bulk of the blame here).


Jason said...

I'm no fan of war. I think war is a horrible thing, and should be avoided at all costs, except when used to defend one's freedom, or the freedom of others - as is the case with the war in Iraq.

Using the above cited example as a reason to avoid war, however, is similar to suggesting that we shouldn't have banks, because having banks around tempts certain people to rob them.

Soldiers such as those mentioned above are criminals and should be punished as such - war or no war. But using the deplorable behavior of a few to denounce an action - this one with the intention to liberate millions of the oppressed - is a little silly.

There are far better reasons out there to disagree with this or any war than the inappropriate behavior of a very few of our troops.

David said...

I agree that there are plenty of other reasons to oppose war, however, I think going to war is much different than having banks. Banks generally serve a valuable function, war generally doesn't.

I understand the expressed ideals of liberating the Iraqis from an oppressive regime, but nobody has shown that this action was within the realm of our responsibility. We overstepped our bounds. That is why I oppose the war.

I was a little skeptical when this war started, but as time drags on I am becoming more and more convinced that starting this war was the wrong decision. It's too bad that simply leaving would not fix this mistake.

Jason & Denise Black said...

We're going to have to disagree about whether or not we overstepped our bounds.

We failed to enter WWII until we were attacked by Japan. Had we entered sooner - seeking only to protect the innocent - we could have saved many lives and ended the war much sooner. At the time, many said that we would be overstepping our bounds to enter in unprovoked.

If I am witness to a crime, such as a mugging or rape, I have a personal responsibility to protect the innocent from danger when possible.

We are witnesses to brutal regimes of tyranny and genocide, and to keep out because "they didn't do anything to us" is cowardly and selfish.

sheldon said...

Arguing that war is bad because it allows bad men to (pretend to) justify bad things just doesn't work for me. Vigilantes have always been taking the law into their own hands. I'm confident that people who think like Sgt. Hutchins would act as he did even without the premise of a war or military support.

There are many resources that can be subverted for evil purposes - the Internet, for example. Vigilantes can find instructions on making explosives, schematics of key structures, etc. - but I'm confident you wouldn't want to censor the Internet. The Iraq war may have been an enabler for Sgt. Hutchins, but I don't believe it was the real reason behind his actions.

David said...


I can accept the logic that we have a responsibility to protect the innocent, but I do not see the boundary. Why Iraq and not China, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Cuba. All of those other countries to a greater or lesser degree do some of the same things that Iraq was doing under Saddam. Where is the boundary? Do we not fight the others because we lack the strength? Is there some qualitative difference between all of those countries and Iraq? I don't see that we can pick and choose, there must be some way to delineate what we should do and where we should do it. That's part of my problem here. If we had entered WWII before we were attacked our position then would have been different, but it would still have been qualitatively different than our current position in Iraq. In WWII Japan and the other Axis members were actively attacking neighboring countries. In Iraq the legitimate, if brutal and repressive, government was operating within its recognized borders. That is a qualitative difference which helps me not to question the first Gulf War or WWII. If someone could articulate a recognizable boundary to the scope of our authority/responsibility then I would be happy to accept this war if we have not overstepped that boundary.


There is a reason that I chose this story rather than the rape and murder case before it, or the accidental shooting after it. I do not believe that Sgt. Hutchins would have acted as he did without the pretext of war. In fact, I am confident that he felt bad about his actions as soon as he learned that they had got the wrong man. As I said in a previous comment, this is neither the only, nor the best reason to avoid war, but it is another reason that should be considered in the decision to go to war - especially a war based on the premise that we are better than those we are fighting. In the case of this kind of war - where we are going in to replace their government with something better - we end up looking like hypocrites if we are acting in the same ways as the government we are trying to replace. Worse than looking like hypocrites is the fact that these actions reduce our credibility and influence for other areas in which we could be doing good.