Thursday, January 04, 2007

Does a death toll make a war wrong.

Much of the talk about the Iraq war has always centred around the death toll. And using this figure to justify whether the war is right or not. Should we be doing this?

Say for instance that in 1939 Germany did not invade Poland but did start killing 6 million jews. Should we have stopped Germany? Of course we should have. But what about if we knew that the War that would be waged to stop this would take the lives of 7 million people. What would we do? What would you do? Would we lose 7 million lives to save 6 million? If you take it as fact that the holocaust was a terrible tragedy that had to be stopped no matter what the cost. Then it is the moral purpose of a war not that actually death toll that matters.

Also take the legality of the War. Legality of War seems to come from UN security council approval. If in 1939 the UN was in place would Stalin have vetoed UN action against Germany? Secure with his pact? Thus making the declaration of War by England illegal?

Now of course there is differences between Hitler invading Poland and Saddam being generally bad. And indeed invading another country is also different. But then again is there much difference between subjecting a foreign nations people to subjecting your own people to your own brand of despotism. Also considering that many legitimate UN operations have been stopped for one members own reasons i.e. Kosovo. Does the legality matter more then actual rightness of the situation.

The debate on Iraq at the moment seems to stem from those two questions, the death toll or the legality. But do either of those two things matter in determining whether the conflict was right or not. Sure they point to deficiencies in the planning and poor diplomacy at the beginning of the war. But I don’t think either say any thing about whether the war is right or not.

For instance if the war went to plan and only 100 or so died would that make the war right. If the UN approved would it make the war instantly right. I don’t think it would matter.

What do you think. Is right, right regardless. And was disposing Saddam right. And is the debate going in the wrong direction

4 comments:

sciencegeek said...

Another difference between the Iraq war and WW2 is that with WW2 there was a firm purpose: Hitler had strong support in Germany, and by taking toppling his rule, the allies had essentially won. Hussein was a minority leader, and so capturing him has not ended the turmoil in Iraq. At present, the American presence in Iraq is aimless. What is right or wrong when you can't even pinpoint the exact purpose of the war anymore?

Bock the Robber said...

If we intervened in every country ruled by a despot, there would be no debate. We'd all agree with removing tyrants. However, we don't in general tend to depose dictators, and in fact, the West never intervenes anywhere.

So why was there an invasion of Iraq?

Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to invade North Korea? Ah, no, it wouldn't, because they really did have weapons of mass destruction, unlike the Iraqis.

No oil though.

Simon said...

If we intervened in every country ruled by a despot, there would be no debate.

Maybe that is the problem. mabye we should be having that debate?

Wouldn't it have made a lot more sense to invade North Korea? Ah, no, it wouldn't, because they really did have weapons of mass destruction, unlike the Iraqis.

Also Iraq was deemed winable and sellable. North Korea would never be thought as an easy touch. And how do you sell Zimbabwe
http://dossing.blogspot.com/2006/02/apartheid-returns-to-africa-corruption.html

What is right or wrong when you can't even pinpoint the exact purpose of the war anymore?

Well they can they say it is freedom. Whether you believe them or not is a totally different story of course.


But an interesting point why was there no insurgency in Germany? There was the french resistance and tito in other countries but the facists never had people fighting insurgencies. I will have to come back to that. Sorry for taking so long to reply

imsmall said...

NOT AN OBOL

Go maim, and kill, and all that stuff,
I wouldn´t give an obol
To stop you--wartime can be tough--
Though meltdown like Chernobyl
May spread across society,
No I won´t even heckle;
Though it were an impiety
I would not give a shekel.

Go do your deeds, though I may fume
In secret, calling Dastard,
The past is past, so why exhume
New blame; for you have mastered
The full degrees of rhetoric:
When viewed from any angle
I can´t pronounce a better trick,
My words wind up a tangle.

If millions have to die (it is
Approaching now a million,
If by uncertain calculus)
I´ll say: why not a trillion!
I have no moral interest in
Those people "over there,"
Nor co-religionists nor kin,
Theirs be their own welfare.

No, not a penny will I give
To stop you in your effort,
Although it means, while some may live,
Live none that have not suffered.
Go maim, and kill, and all that stuff,
Nor will I give an obol
To stop you--that is fair enough:
But don´t you call it noble.