Eff's Rambles (Archive)

11/08/2004

War and Moral Consistency.

Largely inspired by the Iraq war debate, I have a very simple hypothetical scenario and question for anyone willing to answer it.

Suppose that there are three entities.

The first entity (A) claims that the second entity (B) is dangerous and must be dealt with.

After much diplomatic wrangling between entities, A wages war on B; the third entity (C) was and remains opposed to the actions of A on strategic and moral grounds.

Suppose C's primary reason for not supporting A is the moral one, that of being opposed to all war or accepting of war only in limited and necessary (which is often subjective, I suppose) circumstances, and that this morality is predicated on C's high regard for life and empathy for victims of violent harm and death.

By not assisting either A or B in their war, is C remaining true to its moral principle, or acting against it?

Some arguments for consideration:

The deaths from the war are A's responsibility. A started the war.

C's resistance to war would have meant more death had others acted in agreement and did nothing, such is the evil of B.

A exacerbated the death toll with the war.

C's interest is in being a neutral party and therefor cannot meet the obligation of support that A claims C owes it.

C is and has been an ally of A for a long time, and what C is doing is disrespectful, by not giving the benefit of the doubt to A, and disloyal.

C is bound only to unquestioned loyalty to itself, those under its charge, and select, overriding principles.

The war against B was inevitable, C's refusal to help is based on meeting impossible standards, therefor C is being stubborn and unfairly punishing A

By not assisting A or B, C is being true to its principle. It is not engaging in a war it opposed, and not directly taking sides in the war. It is being consistent.

C is being stubborn; allowing more deaths. C knows its absence is worsening the death toll, yet it does nothing because of its principle or pride. C is inconsistent because the predicate factor of its stance against the war, human life, is being taken away at terrible rates.

I hope I have not over simplified this and been fair.

Which side'(s) right?

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