When is War Justified?
By Larry John
I have thought a lot about this question. When is war justified? And I keep coming back to the same answer. Never! Now before you judge my statement, let me try to justify my justification. I do believe that we must protect our families and the people of our nation. As long as there are nations, there will be conflicts. As long as there are families there will be family conflicts. Families have conflicts and disagreements, but we don’t KILL each other, or at least we shouldn’t, and KILLING everyone in the family because you are mad at one member of the family would be stupid also. The world is just one BIG family. We all live in different homes, but we all belong to the “family of man.” Now I realize that using the word KILL when talking about war is a little offensive. We never want to KILL anyone no matter how much we hate them or how bad they are. We just want to protect our families from these monsters of society. But I don’t get it when we have to kill innocent people when two men are mad at each other. Why can’t world leaders fight each other, one-on-one, if they don’t like each other? Why can’t leaders of nations go talk to each other, and then if they get real mad at each other duke it out if they can’t act like mature individuals? But why do thousands of soldiers, men, woman, and children have to die in the process of leaders just not getting along?
Now I realize the “rules of war” (which is stupid to think there are RULES of WAR) are different than the “rules of law.” They would have to be or you couldn’t have a war. For example, let’s say that you heard that your neighbor might be thinking of killing you. You weren’t sure, but your dog had been barking real loud at night and it really pissed him off and you know for sure he bought a gun. Let’s say your name is Larry. So one day your good neighbor “Tom” tells you that you that your bad neighbor “Tim” was overheard saying, “If that damn dog of Larry’s doesn’t stop barking at night, I am going to kill that damn dog. How could Larry have a dog like that in the neighborhood anyway? Doesn’t Larry know that no one can sleep at night because of that damn dog of his? It makes me so mad I could just kill him and the dog.” Upon hearing this, you (Larry) become afraid that your bad neighbor may really mean it, and you (Larry) grab YOUR gun and walk next door and KILL your neighbor. Would that be all right? Well, not by the “rule of U.S. law” it wouldn’t. But by the “rule of war” it would be all right. Depending on your “might” you can just declare a war and “in the name of national security” you can KILL as much as you want. Remember this is not MURDER, this is just KILLING.
But let’s take this a little bit farther. Let’s say you (Larry) didn’t want to go to jail for killing your neighbor, so you hired your friend Billy and some of his thug friends (your army) to kill your bad neighbor, Tim. After all, if you went over by yourself, you might get killed, and that would not be good for you or your family. They need you. So Billy and the thugs go over and KILL your bad neighbor Tim. Now, under the “rules of law” if you send someone to kill someone, you are just as guilty of killing as the thugs that did it, but under the “rules of war” that is not the case … that is, unless you lose the war. If you lose the war, you are guilty of crimes against humanity. If you win the war, you were right, regardless of how many lives and crimes against humanity (depending on your point of view) you committed. In War, winning is everything. Saddam Hussein is a thug and a monster if the U.S. wins the war. Had Saddam Hussein won the war, President Bush would have been tried for killing all the people of Iraq as a war criminal and for crimes against humanity. After all Bush was the aggressor. It all depends on who wins. It is the perspective of the “winner” not the “loser” that makes it right or wrong under the “rules of war,” but I digress.
So, is there a “higher” law? One that says, “Thou shall not kill”? Perhaps there is a law that speaks louder in our hearts than the “rules of law” or the “rules of war” which is not a moral law, or an ethical law, but a law of nature and the universe. Perhaps there is a law that doesn’t tell you not to KILL “unless you are mad” or “unless you are afraid” or “unless you think the other guys’ religion is stupid or his clothes are funny” or “unless you want to stop your enemies from doing something they may do if you don’t stop them” or “unless you hate them, their thinking, their culture, their morals, their laws, the color of their skin, their religion, their economy, their political views, their government”, unless, unless, unless, unless, unless, unless, unless, unless.
Perhaps there is a law that says, “Thou shall not kill …period.” That would be pretty stupid right? Because there is an “unless” and the “unless” is always justified by YOUR point of view, not “their point of view”. You are always right. They are always wrong. But from their point of view, they are right and justified and you are wrong and not justified. They are good, you are evil. So, whose point of view is right? It would be impossible for you to say “their” point of view is right, because if you said that, your point of view would be wrong. If you had “their” point of view, you could never justify “your” point of view, and why would you want to go there?
So, that said, is there a difference between “protection” of our families and “aggression” on other people’s families, when it comes to this thing we call war? Can you protect yourself and never go to war? We must always protect our families, and ourselves, but we must be careful never to cross the line of becoming the aggressors. If we are the aggressors, it is harder to justify our point of view to other family members. Our hearts tell us that by aggressively killing other people and their families, they will want to aggressively kill us. These are people we are killing, not things. Killing good people or killing bad people is still killing, and the rationale used to decide who is good and who is bad is like walking on the “razor’s edge.” I can always “justify” war, if I want to. I just don’t want to. I believe that leaders should sit down and talk, not yell their demands with guns, armies, and killings. I have four sons. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I love my sons. I don’t want them to die just because my leaders wouldn’t sit down and talk with members of the world family they “think” are bad people based on their morals, ethics, point of view, judgment, and justifications. I think I can have my sons live and protect my country and the rights we hold dear by talking more and killing less. It is just like raising children. It is a lot easier to spank the child with a belt, than to love the child into wanting to do what is right. Love takes longer. War is a quick fix that only creates more war and hate. You can never stop killing by killing. You can never have peace by using war to create it. Kill and you shall be killed. Love and you shall be loved. That is a universal law, and that is the only law that doesn’t need justification. Think about it.