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Showing posts from October, 2005

More evidence of the MH "blind spot" on PTSD

A story in today's USA Today reveals that "1 in 4 Iraq vets ailing on return." As always, the Pentagon spokesperson and mental-health leaders attributed the mental health problems only to what happened to Soldiers, giving no attention to what Soldiers may have done.

“The (wartime) deployments do take a toll,” says Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “We send them to austere locations, places that are extremely hot, extremely cold, very wet, very dry … where they may also encounter an armed enemy.”As if feelings of suicide after a deployment were caused by the weather in Iraq.

The article also included this list from DoD:
Of servicemembers returning from the Iraq war this year:
47% saw someone wounded or killed, or saw a dead body.14% had an experience that left them easily startled.6% wanted help for stress, emotional, alcohol or family problems.2% had thoughts of hurting someone or losing control.1% had thoughts that they might be better off dead or could hurt th…

Remembering the Battle of Mogadishu

Today is the 12th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu, when Task Force Ranger and the 10th MTN fought, killed, and died in what was arguably our first battle against Al Queda.

My thoughts and prayers go out to our brave Soldiers and their families. Battles as intense as that one leave a lifetime mark on those who are involved, for better or worse.

Developing a Coherent Moral Argument

The profession of arms talks about ‘morality and war’ using legal terms and concepts. For example, we justify our decision to deploy and fight when the President orders us because we signed a contract to obey the officers appointed over us. Similarly, we consider ourselves blameless when we kill enemy combatants as long as we do not violate the laws of war or the rules of engagement in doing so. These legal rules are so important to our professional identity that all soldiers receive instruction on the laws of war in basic combat training and then annually thereafter, and soldiers at war review the rules of engagement much more often, sometimes daily.

Not everyone in our society, however, accepts these legal answers to moral questions. War pacifists are people who believe that war is morally unjustifiable. They claim that soldiers are morally wrong to participate in war and to kill other human beings, regardless of what’s legally permissible at the time.

I am concerned that we in the pr…

Killing in War: a Rights-based Justification

Killing in War: a Rights-based Justification

Why killing enemy combatants is morally justified

BLUF: When we kill enemy combatants, we are not violating their rights to not be killed, because they have already forfeited that right by their free choice to violate the rights of others to not be killed.

Every person, by virtue of being a human being, possesses the right to not be killed by another person. This is commonly referred to as the “right to life,” but the term “right to not be killed” is more precise. Our rights, for example, are not violated when we die of heart disease, cancer, or a lightning strike. Our “right to life” is violated only when another person intentionally or negligently acts to kill us.

The term “right to not be killed” also makes clear that we possess rights only in relation to other human beings. If a dog bites us, the animal has not violated our rights. Perhaps the dog’s owner has, if she negligently allowed the dog to roam unleashed, but the dog itself cannot b…

Rejecting the Moral Equality of Soldiers

The Supposed “Moral Equality of Soldiers”

Traditional Notion of the Soldiers’ Moral Equality
BLUF: Those who defend rights do not forfeit their own rights.

My argument thus far has assumed that we are the “good guys” and enemy combatants are the “bad guys”; that we retain our right to not be killed while they have forfeited theirs. Believe it or not, the long tradition of just-war thought rejects this notion—instead claiming that all combatants, on both sides of a conflict, are “moral equals” (Walzer 1977; Christopher 1999).

Briefly, the argument for the “moral equality of soldiers” states that since combatants on both sides take up arms against each other, then all combatants are both threats to their enemy and threatened by their enemy. Combatants on both sides, by this account, are equally guilty of being threats, so they all forfeit their right to not be killed. Consequently, all combatants are also equally innocent of violating their enemy’s rights. Thus, soldiers on both sides…