Can War Be Justified?
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Can War Be Justified? War inevitably brings death, destruction and suffering, which both ruin lives and nations. Using religious guidance, ethical theories and general arguments, I will decide for myself whether or not war can be justified. The most unjustifiable consequence of war is the loss of innocent civilians' lives. Civilians, who could have lived to make a huge impact on the world, pose no direct threat to the 'enemy' and might not even share the motives of the side they have been presumed to support. War eradicates hopes and dreams of millions, destroys homelands, frightens and oppresses people. Nothing that, in the end, brings more bad than it does good can be justified. Going to war in the name of peace cannot be justified - it is a complete contradiction: It is using violent means to achieve the very concept of non-violence. If you force soldiers to follow orders and kill mercilessly in wars you destroy their natural instincts of compassion and their ability to think and act freely, creating mere tools for warlords. Nobody has the right to kill the spirit of an individual. War can destroy the will to live in those whose lives have been wrecked by it, and kills the innocence of those forced to kill intentionally. ...read more.
vs. justice (if their reasons for going to war are unjust) or loyalty vs. non-violence. To decide whether war can be justified, not only in the case above, but in general, we can be guided by ethical theories. Utilitarianism is a principle stating that 'to do the greatest good for the greatest number' is the best action. When applied to the problem 'can war be justified,' you must look ahead to see what the consequences of a war will be - if the war will have a greater overall benefit, thinking of future generations. This rule will give a different answer to each case: If a war's outcome will cause more suffering than good, Utilitarianism would say that that war could not be justified; yet if a war, in the long run would bring greater good than harm, Utilitarian thinkers will say that that war can be justified. The 'Rules-based' principle advises people to think 'if everyone in the world followed the same rule of action I am about to follow, would the world be a nice place to live in?' Applied to this problem, you would think whether the world would be a nice place if everybody was at war or if nobody was at war. ...read more.
They must never cause suffering to ignorant and innocent people in wars at all costs. It is hard to justify sending men to their deaths, but I personally believe that, in on balance, most wars can be justified. Inevitably it causes suffering and ruins life for many, but I agree with the principles of Utilitarianism. I believe that if a war improves the way of life for more than those it causes suffering to, it has to be justified. It is far better, in my opinion, to have many generations of happy citizens living in a free society, than generations of persecuted people, enduring a miserable existence - even if a relatively small number of soldiers - and sadly, often civilians too - have to die to achieve this state of peace and freedom. For wars to be justified, I believe there must be a degree of morality in the way a war is fought. This entails treating the enemy with respect after the battle, treating prisoners of war humanely, and at all costs, not targeting innocent civilians. I do believe that there are some wars that cannot be justified at all. Wars that persecute innocent people are despicable and unnecessary. There is no definitive universal answer as to whether or not war can be justified - each case has individual circumstances. In the majority of cases, however, I conclude that war can be justified. ...read more.
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.
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