War - Are there any circumstances in which...

Discussion in 'The Red Room' started by GhostEcho, May 14, 2019.

  1. GhostEcho

    GhostEcho Christian Conservative (Republican)

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    ... it is better to go to war than to not go to war?

    I am not looking much for input from, for example, Dayton. But I'd love to hear input from the folks that seem to be generally against war at any cost.

    For the purposes of this discussion, I want to make it clear that *I* personally do not favor war and believe that every diplomatic option possible ought to be expended before force is introduced, but I still believe that there are times when the only way to solve a given problem is to "drop bombs". And yes, I am only talking about problems that MUST be solved. Not every problem has to be solved. Some can be lived with because the cure is worse than the poison.

    Thanks in advance.
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  2. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    So I suppose I'm one of those that this is aimed at.

    I'm not a pacifist by any means so the answer is YES and my criteria are broadly in line with standard just war theory in that it should be:
    • Waged by a competent authority
    • Proportionate, protecting the innocent.
    • Have a just cause.
    • Have a high probability of making things better rather than worse.
    • As a last resort
    • Not out of self-interest

    And so forth.

    I can give several historical examples that I believe meet these criteria, but YMMV as to those.
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  3. GhostEcho

    GhostEcho Christian Conservative (Republican)

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    Thanks, Rick. I am curious about the examples if you are so inclined.
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  4. TheBurgerKing

    TheBurgerKing The Monarch of Flavor

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    Several. When you have a rabid expansionist country trying to take over the world ala nazi nermany and imperial japan in the 1930's. When you have a failed state where horrific abuses are the norm and the country has become a serious threat to another country's security. When the abuses of a government become intolerable the populace should take up arms. How about a country run by a religious cult that starves and murders its citizens for backwards religious reasons or just for the entertainment of the ruling class? (See north korea and the majority of the middle east)
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  5. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    I'm arguably more pacifist than Rick, but it's only a matter of degree not type.

    My response would be that war can be justified, but nowhere near as often as it actually happens in practise. More to the point it's very difficult to find an instance where both sides' actions could be justified. Furthermore once combat has been joined it goes without saying that all parties will engage in acts which are unjustifiable but generally accepted as the culture of war.

    Justifications tend to be just that, they tend to serve another goal rather than lead the decision making process. If there really is a strong justification it should be the primary reason for acting, not an after the fact question. Likewise atrocities tend to be only acknowledged as such when they are committed by the other side.
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  6. GhostEcho

    GhostEcho Christian Conservative (Republican)

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    Thanks everyone. There's much to be agreed with here.
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  7. Diacanu

    Diacanu Comicmike. Writer

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    Invasion by extraterrestrials? :shrug:

    After falling hook, line, and sinker for the Iraq invasion, and then seeing what a steaming pile of lies and bullshit that all was, and having to carry that shame with me for the rest of my fucking life, I'm not up for listening to any politician's sales pitch for any war.

    It always ends up being another swindle by profiteers.
    One that kills people.
    And rarely if ever the guilty.

    Let me know when the saucers descend, or the Hell maw in the ground opens.
    I'll grab a raygun for ya.
    Not a minute before.
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  8. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    I'm speaking broadly here. War is IMO by definition a failure and will inevitably lead to acts which are indefensible, so I am not at all implying that everything that took place in any of the following was justified. Nevertheless, I believe that the principle of resort to violence was justified in line with the standards I've already outlined.
    • Spanish Civil War (to prevent fascist control of Spain)
    • World War II (to prevent Nazi control of Europe)
    • Cambodian-Vietnamese War (to terminate Khmer Rouge atrocities)
    • Indo-Pakistan War (to prevent atrocities in East Pakistan)
    I'm sure that there are others, including those associated with many independence movements. But these few seem fairly clear-cut to me.
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  9. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Korean War - to repel an unprovoked invasion.
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  10. K.

    K. Sober

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    You've given a pretty good summary of my own criteria. I would add that if we find ourselves in a situation where we need to go to war, things have already gone horribly wrong and we have already failed catastrophically. Human life being what it is, we still have to go on somehow after fucking everything up, so we wage war. But at that point, we have failed to prevent a situation in which the only way to save lots of innocent lives is to murder many other innocent people.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that it is impossible to go to war and be blameless. Most wars are wrong, and if you are in a place in which war has become right, all of the steps that got you there were wrong.
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  11. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Without going into the specific examples, the sentiment here and in @K. s' post is very much my line of thinking. At the point where one has to make the decision whether or not to fight a war the chances have by and large already been missed. Whether that's due to well intentioned failures, lack of weight given to the consequences or deliberate calculation of selfish interest is another matter and is usually an involved combination of all three in differing measure. In any case those responsible for making those decisions should be selected on the likelihood they will see the cliff before we all fall off.

    I'd be very interested to see the demographics of peoples' attitudes, specifically taking into account what direct experience (if any) they have of warfare and its' consequences. My suspicion is that those who have lived in a warzone will be less inclined to see much glory in armed interventions then those whose experience is more limited, but atm I've no data to back up or refute that.

    What does strike me is that the justifications and motivations for war are rarely one and the same and that people are very inclined to underestimate the human cost, both in terms of the objective scale and the subjective experience. It's interesting, for instance, to see how rapidly support for Vietnam waned once the public were exposed to scenes of corpses piled on top of each other and stories of atrocities being committed by both sides. The idea that wars are fought by soldiers on sterile battlefields away from civilian consequences is a notion all too common in Hollywood and the realities are far uglier. It's a rare day when anyone can say with certainty that the decision to go to war would certainly reduce suffering or improve matters. It can happen, but it's the exception rather than the norm and shouldn't be motivated by anything other than extremely carefully considered humanitarian concerns.

    If and when you do support a war you should really do so in the knowledge that you are supporting actions that will result in normalising the murder, rape and torture of non combatants, in thousands of people being dispossessed of their homes, their jobs, or watching family members killed before their very eyes. You are supported actions that will almost certainly lead to instability which extends beyond the immediate conflict both in terms of geography and history. Power vacuums lend themselves to uncontrolled criminality, to the rise of local warlords and secondary conflicts, often using forcibly conscripted or even child soldiers. The consequences of that can and likely will ripple down for decades or even centuries.

    Defending national interests is far too often used as a euphemism for force projection and I can't see extending ones' global influence as a justification for violence. I'm always at least moderately suspicious when someone cites it as a justification. When we are told how dangerous NK, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Iran are, or told how worrying it is that China is becoming the dominant military power in the region I hear "we can and should be profiting from this somehow but either aren't or very soon won't be". Armed forces are typically described as being there to protect their respective nation and that is how international custom views their purpose. They aren't really meant to be a coercive tool for foreign policy except in the very rarest of circumstances.

    Likewise when we are led to believe that a regime is so terrible that it really must go I instinctively look for other, less noble, motivations. Look beyond the stated justifications for the short term self interest and most of the time humanity doesn't fail to disappoint.

    In short, I'd say yes war can be justified, but almost without exception the justifications and rhetoric tend to be was to sell the idea, nothing more.
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  12. Zor Prime

    Zor Prime .

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    This is an interesting topic!

    But OP missed a great opportunity to title this thread, “War! What is it good for?”
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  13. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    That occurred to me too, but I actually think he made the right choice giving the thread a little gravity to draw out sober responses.
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  14. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey Captain Christmas Dinner

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    I'm not sure that was an "unprovoked" invasion given the questionable legitimacy of Syngman Rhee's government.
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  15. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    The Rhee government may have been of questionable legitimacy, but there is no question that the Soviet-backed Kim regime in the north launched an unprovoked invasion aimed at pure conquest.
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  16. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Of course one could reframe that whole situation in terms of the Soviets and the Kim regime making an unjustified decision. Whether the response was justified is another matter but bear in mind the primary driver of the conflict was the Cold War. Did that really justify two and a half million civilian casualties?
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  17. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey Captain Christmas Dinner

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    "unprovoked" is definitely questionable.
    likewise, conquest and reunification are fairly interchangeable, depending on how valid one considers the ROK government.
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  18. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Indeed, the difference between conquest, invasion, liberation and reunification is typically linguistic and heavily dependent on perspective.

    The war was driven by the interests of competing superpowers. Had the leaders of those superpowers been driven by ethical or moral concerns proxy wars would never have been considered a valid strategy.
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  19. Captain Conspiracy

    Captain Conspiracy Making Frogs Gay Again

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    I’m pretty much on the same level as @RickDeckard on this and I find myself increasing agreeing with him even though we are opposite sides of the isle. Obviously is the US is directly attacked ala Pearl Harbor or 9/11, then war is certainly justified. If one of our allies are attacked like NK bombing Japan or Iran bombing Israel then we should try diplomacy, but I would have very little patience if they start jerking us around.

    Also, if another Hitler comes along and swiftly starts invading Europe, I don’t think we should wait until we are attacked, we should at least do something. I will add this though. I think in the US, Congress should be forced to vote to declare war and not just give the president a never ending authorization. The mission should be clear and we should have a stated goal and plan. Obviously not everything will go according to plan, but we should strive for a stated goal.

    Also, we shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate if things get bogged down and it doesn’t look like either side is going to give up or win. I get why we don’t negotiate with terrorists, but the s position has gotten us nowhere.
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  20. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Nnnnot really. Consider the life of an average Nork vs the life of an average ROK. Tell me which option is preferable.
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  21. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    Did the war, costing millions of lives, change that?

    Did the interventions of the USSR and the US do anything positive for those people? Both sides were using proxy wars as a strategy against the other, both sides were engineering coups and supporting regime changes which cost millions of innocent lives. US involvement in Korea was every bit as driven by self interest as Russias'.

    The end result of all that death, all those destroyed homes and families, all those rapes and massacres, the nearly 400,000 abducted people who are still unaccounted for, the three years of terror and living hell, not to mention ongoing tensions for years after was....stalemate.

    Both sides launched invasions which were repelled, no one was going to win, an armistice was reached and millions of people suffered as pawns of the cold war superpowers.
  22. Lanzman

    Lanzman Vast, Cool and Unsympathetic Formerly Important

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    Seriously?!? Tell me, does South Korea have forced labor camps, famines, mass propaganda campaigns, a cult of personality built around a dynastic family of absolute dictators? How many North Koreans have died since the war due to the actions and policies of their own government vs those in the south? Which of the two Koreas had to build massive border controls to keep their own people in? Which one is a police state? Which one constantly devotes massive resources to its military while ordinary citizens starve? I mean, seriously . . . if you think preserving the south from that kind of barbarism wasn't worth the war, then I can't help you.
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  23. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    You're missing the point.

    That invasion didn't come out of the blue. It came about, as so many did, because of the interventions of two superpowers competing with each other. It was the result of ongoing terrible policy making focusing on victory over human consequences. You do realise the reason there are a North and South Korea was down to politicking between the US and Russian trustees and the USAMGIK banning political protest and declaring martial law?

    Hence the earlier point, wars happen because of earlier failings. Almost by definition they represent either failure or malice.
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  24. RickDeckard

    RickDeckard Socialist

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    That's decades after the fact, with lots of other factors in play.
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  25. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    And very much the result of the interventions of external players, including the US.
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  26. K.

    K. Sober

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    Ok, here I completely disagree. I'm not saying WW2 wasn't justified; but Pearl Harbour certainly didn't justify it. War kills OTHER people than the ones that attack you. If you have three neighbours, and neighbour A kills neighbour B, war means that C then turns around and kills YOU because of that. So war can never, ever, settle a debt or a need for revenge. It is justified ONLY if it solves a problem, as @GhostEcho said up front. If Germany and Japan were a problem that needed to be solved, Pearl Harbour did not make it so and if Pearl Harbour hadn't happened, the problem would still had to have been solved.

    Which also means that the reasons given even for a necessary war are usually wrong, so already you are dealing with all of the fallout of lying and misinformation and wrong motives and hence crossed motives and so on.

    After 9/11, taking out Al'Quaeda was justified, because that did in fact remove that problem. Practically none of the other military campaigns following 9/11 were justified. And even taking out AQ by war is a direct result of failing to prevent its rise earlier -- in this case, indeed, helping its rise in many important ways.

    But that's the thing. Hitler didn't start swiftly attacking Europe in 1942, nor in 39, and arguably he didn't swiftly and suddenly appear in 33 either. The first plot was in the early 20s; the problem was there at least by 1918. I owe all of my freedoms to the US and its allies having fought and won World War Two. But even given that, in favour at the very least of the Americans that died if nothing else, don't we have to ask if there couldn't have been a better way for wiser men who acted earlier and with more foresight?
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  27. Captain Conspiracy

    Captain Conspiracy Making Frogs Gay Again

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    If the US hadn’t gotten involved and the allies hadn’t won the war, you’d be speaking German...oh wait.
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  28. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    The point several of us are making is these things can usually be averted in advance. Having to make the decision whether to go to war or not is usually a sign of earlier poor decision making.
  29. Captain Conspiracy

    Captain Conspiracy Making Frogs Gay Again

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    When a genocidal maniac is hell bent on taking over the world, you don’t negotiate peace talks.

    ETA: How to stop a bully? Beat the shit out of the bully. He’ll go running home to his mommy and won’t fuck with you any more.
  30. spot261

    spot261 Fresh Meat

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    No, you refrain from creating conditions which allow such a person to come into power in the first place. There's little doubt that WW2 came about as a consequence of punitive measures taken against post WW1 Germany and its' economy, measures which caused great resentment amongst a generation who bore no guilt for the previous war.

    It was riding the wave of that resentment which allowed Hitler to be a threat in the first place.
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