War, Morality, and the Military Profession

By Malham M. Wakin | Go to book overview

to kill for reasons of state; it does not countenance the infliction of suffering for its own sake or for revenge.

Unless troops are trained and required to draw the distinction between military and nonmilitary killings, and to retain such respect for the value of life that unnecessary death and destruction will continue to repel them, they may lose the sense for that distinction for the rest of their lives. The consequence would be that many returning soldiers would be potential murderers.

As Francis Lieber put the matter in his 1863 army regulations: "Men who take up arms against one another in public war do not cease on this account to be moral beings, responsible to one another and to God."


Notes
1.
The history of American military practice with respect to the laws of war is covered in Colby, "War Crimes", 23 Michigan Law Review482, 606 ( 1925).
2.
Department of the Army Field Manual FM 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare ( 1956). The 1940 edition was in effect during the Second World War.
3.
It is interesting to note that while most violations of the laws of war consist of homicidal or other acts involving moral obloquy, this is not universally true, even with respect to conduct capitally punishable. A good example is spying. Of course, if one spies against one's country, then traitorous or even treasonable elements are present. But spying for one's country, though punishable by death under the laws of war (explicitly recognized in Article 68 of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians), is not regarded as ignoble. We think of Major Andre as a blameless, luckless victim of Benedict Arnold's perfidy, and Nathan Hale is honored with a statue on the old campus at Yale and a plaque on the outside wall of the Yale Club in New York City, near where he was hanged by the British in 1776. That spying is not intrinsically criminal is interestingly recognized in Article 31 of the 1907 Hague Convention, which provides that a spy "who, after rejoining the army to which he belongs, is subsequently captured by the enemy, is treated as a prisoner of war and incurs no responsibility for his previous acts of espionage." Thus deterrence of others, not retribution or condemnation, is the object of capital punishment for spies caught in the act.
4.
G. Lowes Dickinson, War. Its Nature, Cause, and Curse ( 1923); p. 16.
5.
Rules of Land Warfare, War Department Doctrine No. 467, Office of the Chief of Staff, approved April 25, 1914 ( U.S. Government Printing Office, 1917), par. 9.
6.
Law of Land Warfare, par. 3.

-378-

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War, Morality, and the Military Profession
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • About the Book and Editor v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the First Edition xi
  • Preface to the Second Edition xiii
  • Part 1 Ethics and the Military Profession 1
  • Introduction to Part 1 3
  • Notes 8
  • 1: The World of Epictetus: Reflections on Survival and Leadership 10
  • 2: Officership as a Profession 23
  • Notes 33
  • 3: The Military Mind: Conservative Realism of the Professional Military Ethic 35
  • Notes 52
  • 4: The Future of the Military Profession 57
  • Notes 78
  • 5: Society and the Soldier: 1914-18 80
  • Notes 89
  • 6: Today and Tomorrow 90
  • Notes 102
  • 7: The Military in the Service of the State 104
  • Notes 120
  • 8: The Professions Under Siege 121
  • 9: The Shame of the Professions 134
  • 10: Duty, Honor, Country: Practice and Precept 140
  • Notes 155
  • 11: Conflicting Loyalties and the American Military Ethic 157
  • Notes 169
  • 12: Loyalty, Honor, and the Modern Military 171
  • Notes 178
  • 13: Integrity 180
  • 14: The Ethics of Leadership I 181
  • Notes 198
  • 15: The Ethics of Leadership II 200
  • Part 2 War and Morality 217
  • Introduction to Part 2 219
  • Notes 225
  • 16: Just and Unjust Wars 226
  • Notes 237
  • 17: The Just War and Non-Violence Positions 239
  • Notes 254
  • 18: Just-War Theories: The Bases, Interrelations, Priorities, and Functions of Their Criteria 256
  • Notes 272
  • 19: Pacifism: Some Philosophical Considerations 277
  • 20: War and Murder 284
  • Notes 296
  • 21: War and Massacre 297
  • Notes 314
  • 22: On the Morality of War: A Preliminary Inquiry 317
  • Notes 338
  • 23: The Killing of the Innocent 341
  • Notes 359
  • 24: War Crimes 365
  • Notes 378
  • 25: Superior Orders and Reprisals 380
  • Notes 389
  • 26: The Laws of War 391
  • Notes 407
  • Selected Bibliography 409
  • 27: On the Morality of Chemical/Biological War 410
  • Notes 422
  • 28: Supreme Emergency 425
  • Notes 442
  • 29: Some Paradoxes of Deterrence 444
  • Notes 460
  • 30: On Nuclear War and Nuclear Deterrence 463
  • Notes 483
  • 31: Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age 487
  • Notes 497
  • 32: On Nuclear Morality 499
  • Notes 508
  • 33: The Moral Case for the Strategic Defense Initiative 509
  • Notes 515
  • The Contributors 517
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