Is morality the key to winning any war?

#1

Is morality the key to winning any war?

Moral judgement is something we are taught from a very early stage in our development.
Certainly here in Britain morality is the essential first skill that the majority of us are taught in the family system and in our school system. Living well amongst others seems to be a critical part of social integration.
Without morality there will inevitably be chaos.

Is it clear then that all wars will be won or lost simply by the very nature of human morality. That central core instinct of what is right to do. We are taught in our homes and in our schools that to hurt others is simply unacceptable. To kill them is totally unjust. Live and let live is the central key.
Yet it does seem to me that there has got to be exceptions to this rule. One of these exceptions was world war two.

Never have I been so adamant that steps to end a reign of mass destruction of another race were so very justified. Would I have fought for that cause-yes I would. Because to embark on a mission to overwhelm another country seems to me to be an egocentric way of taking your views and enforcing them onto other human beings. The Falklands war was in my opinion another justified campaign , yes there was horrific loss of life on both sides. Yet was it morally justifiable -yes I believe it was. Our Islands, a part of our nation had to be recovered at any cost.

Was then the intervention in Bosnia also justifiable-in my opinion yes it was. Yet again the same theme shows itself- other human beings being killed because of their religion. They needed the help and they received it thanks to that response from those people in power who new of the need for moral intervention.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait he stepped over the boundaries of another nation. He wanted to integrate another set of rules -his own, on a separate group of people who where living in peace at that time. So once again a stand had to be made-the question of morality forced other human beings to respond in kind. Yes yet again horrific loss of life on both sides, yet still I believe that the moral high ground was maintained.

So I believe that in the quiet of the British soldiers mind is that key question of morality- is this right what I am doing here-does it feel right to be in this country fighting these people. Whether we like it or not that thought will indeed create the central drive towards success or failure. That success relates to every battle that any soldier serves in. Also the perceived enemy will also have that deep grounded central question in the quiet of their minds. Is this fight justified. Am I doing the right thing in this battlefield. Now these facts will make or break the long term outcome of Any war fought anywhere in the world.

In fact many wars have been won by countries with all the odds stacked against them, be it facing superior firepower or facing many, many more soldiers on the side of their opponents. These well known battles have been won in my opinion because of the deep human factor of morality. The battle of Britain, and the Vietnam war and Russia in Afghanistan are just three of many outcomes changed by countries with the moral high ground.

That deep unbreakable belief that they will win because they have the moral high ground. For example this is our country we have done nothing to yours get out or we will make you go. Now this ideology cannot be changed be simply trying to win hearts and minds. This has got to be based on the total open truth about the fairness of the given task. Or put in simple terms ‘is this the right thing to be doing’.

Because the soldiers on the ground have got to believe deep in their hearts that the war they are engaged in is morally justifiable. If the internalised moral code of the soldier is compromised through the reality of what he is doing- then the outcome of any conflict will be predetermined. So there must be a clear moral argument for any war in any land at any given time. I hear that General Sir Richard Dannatt may be fired from his post .
Could this be because he has questioned the whole morality of the double stretch situation that Britain finds itself in.

Yet could it be that Tony Blair wanted to use the resources at his disposal to prove himself a tough leader. Was it then simply his own ego at work when he made the choice to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It has been known before in the history books that men have made choices that were flawed from the start.
Now we know that many good leaders of our nation have suggested that it is time to withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the fact that so many good men are saying it is time to go could it be then that Tony Blair does not want to be seen as a failure.

Make no mistake after 911 the moral high ground was Americas for the taking. They had to respond in some way. Yet has that moral benefit been squandered by heading off in very badly thought out directions.
In my opinion stupid directions that lost the upper hand of truth and morality. I do not want to see the British army broken states General Sir Richard Dannatt, very severe predictions, spoken by a very senior man, who is trained to see the outcome of battlefield choices made in the heat of the moment. Indeed that is what he is good at. So when a man with his expertise speaks we all should listen. Very intently

Was it ever right to question the judgement of our leadership. Should we just go wherever we are sent even though it seems that only a few people in these two countries that we invaded and “kicked the door in” are the cause of horrific acts. Is it right then to invade a whole nation just because of a few people. Is that morally right.

Hitler was beaten because what he was doing was morally wrong- the inner truth of that war gave all our service men and women a drive and power that reached into the psyche of each individual and brought out innovations to beat the beast that was and I am proud of every man woman and child of that time who endured and overcame those odds.

So what is the moral justification for enduring in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this mission just being chased by people who’s egos insist that they will succeed. In my opinion morality stands in the way on both war fronts. Will more bombs and loss of life change that deep foundation of the inner truth that is - morality. I have recently heard said that approximately 655,000 people have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq. Even if only half of those people had only one child each that still makes 327,500 children who are bound to grow up very, very angry wouldn’t you be more that a little pised at why dad is not coming home.

That is a terrible legacy to leave all of our children. Some people in power state that now is not the right time to leave Iraq or Afghanistan. I bet they are the ones who supported the invasion in the first place.
I doubt that there will ever be a right time to pull out of this situation. Someone will have to say enough is enough. That person will have to be very, very strong. Yet whoever that person turns out to be in my opinion- morality- will be on their side.

Andy Gregory
 
#2
A very thought-provoking and interesting post, Andy.

I think Phoney Tony just wanted to do a "touch of the Churchills" and be a "war pry minister". I can remember reading that he was "very excited" at the thought of going to war. But is that a mature attitude to sending people off to their deaths or to kill other people? He never served in the Armed Forces, so I assume he got his "military experience" from books and mags. Maybe he secretly reads C&S and dreams of being a "sowja". Who knows?

At any rate, he was told right from the start by people with real military experience that he was entering a cluster-fück, but he decided to go ahead anyway. All the sad deaths of our comrades were essentially avoidable and can be placed firmly at his door. The fückin' slimy, arrogant shite!

MsG
 
#3
EAGLE1 said:

Is morality the key to winning any war?
In some wars, Vietnam for instance, a factor certainly.

EAGLE1 said:

Hitler was beaten because what he was doing was morally wrong- the inner truth of that war gave all our service men and women a drive and power that reached into the psyche of each individual and brought out innovations to beat the beast that was and I am proud of every man woman and child of that time who endured and overcame those odds.


Andy Gregory
Interesting POV, I'm not sure the historians would agree.

Peace through fire superiority is touch and go as well. Unless, of course, one if of the "Nuke 'em 'til they glow" persuasion.
 
#4
The defeat of the axis powers in WWII was achieved by means which were on occasion, at best, morally dubious. As well as the well known issues (A-Bombings, Dresden) there is some ambigity concerning, for instance, the use of flame weapons and the activities of our Soviet "allies".
In fact, I'd contend that the Allied powers actually came closer to waging the "total war" preached by the Nazis, than did the Nazis themselves. But the debate could end in a very long tail-chasing exercise.

A concept that I have difficulty in explaining properly, as I'm not eloquent enough to actually explain my fulll thinking on the matter is the "nuke 'em acid test". Which runs something along the lines of this:- If you're not prepared to "nuke" the "enemy", not actually use nuclear weapons necessarily but fight totally to achieve your aims. To be willing to inflict and accept eye-watering casualties and to be able with some degree of credibility to espouse that "the end justifies the means" then you've no business engaging in armed conflict at all...

Probably going to take a little flak for that one.
 
#5
Morality goes to whoever wins and rights the history books.
 
#6
PE4rocks said:
EAGLE1 said:

Is morality the key to winning any war?
In some wars, Vietnam for instance, a factor certainly.

EAGLE1 said:

Hitler was beaten because what he was doing was morally wrong- the inner truth of that war gave all our service men and women a drive and power that reached into the psyche of each individual and brought out innovations to beat the beast that was and I am proud of every man woman and child of that time who endured and overcame those odds.

Andy Gregory
Interesting POV, I'm not sure the historians would agree.

Peace through fire superiority is touch and go as well. Unless, of couse, one if of the "Nuke 'em 'til they glow" persuasion.
Err, what?

From what I've read the fact the German Army was massively over extended during Op Barbarossa and unable to maintain such lengthy lines of supply had something to do with it.

Oh, that and say the fact they were overly dependant on foreign oil, had too many high ranking officers pulling in different directions, were ill equipped for the Russian winter (because of supply problems and under estimating the effort), faced an army with massively overwhelming numbers, and a Government prepared to cut it's losses and withdraw everything and everybody to the east until ready to retaliate, that is.

But I suppose the fact the Allies felt what they were doing was 'morally' right was the key, 'cos ofcourse the Germans didn't feel any of that did they?
 
#7
Indeed.

Hitler was beaten because

1. He did not invade the UK, enabling Uncle Sam to have an unsinkable FMB.

2. He invaded Russia.
 
#8
The other issue with morality is that the local populations of Iraq and Afganistan also feel, without any doubt at all, that they hold the moral high ground. Their conviction in rejecting the presence of the infidel in their lands (whatever the reason for his being there) is absolute. Their rejection of other sects of Islam is also based on a deep seated 'knowledge' that they themselves are correct and the other is somehow deficient. I fear that Red is correct. The claim for morality in action is made by the victor and waved as irrefutable proof of their just cause.
 
#9
EAGLE1 said:


In fact many wars have been won by countries with all the odds stacked against them, be it facing superior firepower or facing many, many more soldiers on the side of their opponents. These well known battles have been won in my opinion because of the deep human factor of morality. The battle of Britain, and the Vietnam war and Russia in Afghanistan are just three of many outcomes changed by countries with the moral high ground.

Andy Gregory

In the Battle of Britain we had the Spitfire, probably the best fighter in the sky at that time and radar, they helped a bit.

The North Vietnamese weren't sat at home watching body bags being offloaded on the TV news day after day and their politicians didn't have one eye on their re-election and the legacy of their office.

And in Afghanistan (although we feared them through our lack of knowledge) the Soviet conscripts were more interested in drinking their vehicle fuel in lieu of real boose than they were in fighting the US/CIA backed Muhajadeen.

So sorry, but I think your original post is rubbish!
 
#10
Andy, I'm going to mark your work for two reasons:

(1) You've got some potential, but you need to think a bit more about what you're trying to say.

(2) I'm an arrogant bastard who imagines he can teach you a thing or two :D

EAGLE1 said:

Is morality the key to winning any war?

Moral judgement is something we are taught from a very early stage in our development.
Questionable premise. Moral judgement is something we develop through observation and assimalation, partially through explicit instruction and may have a large evolutionary component.


Certainly here in Britain morality is the essential first skill that the majority of us are taught in the family system and in our school system.
Unsupported premise. Most would agree that morality is taught badly if at all at school, and only by some parents.


Living well amongst others seems to be a critical part of social integration.
Without morality there will inevitably be chaos.
Unsupported assumtion. Do social animals such as chimpanzees or ants have a morality? Is it taught?

Is it clear then that all wars will be won or lost simply by the very nature of human morality.
Complete non-sequitur (this conclusion does not follow from your earlier premises)

That central core instinct of what is right to do. We are taught in our homes and in our schools that to hurt others is simply unacceptable. To kill them is totally unjust. Live and let live is the central key.
In some households and some schools.

Yet it does seem to me that there has got to be exceptions to this rule. One of these exceptions was world war two.

Never have I been so adamant ....
Your being adamant is irrelevant. Perhaps your being sure is relevant, but you will need to convince the rest of us by argument and evidence.

.... to embark on a mission to overwhelm another country seems to me...
Dont say 'it seems to me', it merely weakens your following assertion. Be bold. State your case as 'It is....

...an egocentric way of taking your views and enforcing them onto other human beings. The Falklands war was in my opinion another justified campaign , yes there was horrific loss of life on both sides. Yet was it morally justifiable -yes I believe it was
Who cares what you believe? It's why you believe it that is relevant
. Our Islands, a part of our nation had to be recovered at any cost.
At any cost? Why? Why does the sovereignty of any country (let alone a small dependent territory at the arse end of the wolrd) justify the loss of human life which you earlier described as unacceptable and totally unjust. You appear to contradict your own premise.

...Was then the intervention in Bosnia also justifiable-in my opinion yes it was. Yet again the same theme shows itself- other human beings being killed because of their religion. They needed the help and they received it thanks to that response from those people in power who new of the need for moral intervention.
You do know that attrocities and killings were perpetrated by all 'sides' in the Balkans, don't you?

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait he stepped over the boundaries of another nation. He wanted to integrate another set of rules -his own, on a separate group of people who where living in peace at that time. So once again a stand had to be made-the question of morality forced other human beings to respond in kind. Yes yet again horrific loss of life on both sides, yet still I believe that the moral high ground was maintained.
But you might have to look at the deeper casues of that war to be sure.

So I believe that in the quiet of the British soldiers mind is that key question of morality- is this right what I am doing here-does it feel right to be in this country fighting these people. Whether we like it or not that thought will indeed create the central drive towards success or failure. That success relates to every battle that any soldier serves in. Also the perceived enemy will also have that deep grounded central question in the quiet of their minds. Is this fight justified. Am I doing the right thing in this battlefield. Now these facts will make or break the long term outcome of Any war fought anywhere in the world.
What about wars and battles that have been lost by those nations or armies with the 'moral high ground'? Did British troops have the moral high ground when they conquered two empires for the crown? Did Napoleons troops have the moral high ground when they conquered Italy, Prussia, Belgium, the Netherlands etc etc. Did German troops have the moral high ground when they overran Poland, Belgium, France, Greece, etc etc. What about the extermination of native peoples in North and South America?

In fact many wars have been won by countries with all the odds stacked against them, be it facing superior firepower or facing many, many more soldiers on the side of their opponents. These well known battles have been won in my opinion because of the deep human factor of morality.
More have been won by the nations with the biggest guns.

The battle of Britain, and the Vietnam war and Russia in Afghanistan are just three of many outcomes changed by countries with the moral high ground.
You confuse superior firepower with an overall advantageous position. Dont forget Economics, Geography, Political Aims etc etc

That deep unbreakable belief that they will win because they have the moral high ground.
Sort of like the Wermachts 'Gott mitt uns' then? Or the unshakeable faith of the Dervishes as they threw themselves at Kitcheners army in the Sudan - an unshakeable faith that they would be impervious to British bullets.

For example this is our country we have done nothing to yours get out or we will make you go. Now this ideology cannot be changed be simply trying to win hearts and minds. This has got to be based on the total open truth about the fairness of the given task. Or put in simple terms ‘is this the right thing to be doing’.
Which is certainly a large part of Hearts and Minds - did you think it was merely about bribing the populace with clean water and schools?

Because the soldiers on the ground have got to believe deep in their hearts that the war they are engaged in is morally justifiable. If the internalised moral code of the soldier is compromised through the reality of what he is doing- then the outcome of any conflict will be predetermined.
Ah, something we can partly agree on. Morale (as opposed to moral) is an essential element of warfighting; but don't mistake the two. Human beings can be convinced that many things are morally justifiable - I suggest you read about the Milgram experiments.

So there must be a clear moral argument for any war in any land at any given time. I hear that General Sir Richard Dannatt may be fired from his post

.......some party political stuff implying that Tony Blair should withdraw the boys from Iraq....

Make no mistake after 911 the moral high ground was Americas for the taking. They had to respond in some way. Yet has that moral benefit been squandered by heading off in very badly thought out directions.
In my opinion stupid directions that lost the upper hand of truth and morality. I do not want to see the British army broken states General Sir Richard Dannatt, very severe predictions, spoken by a very senior man, who is trained to see the outcome of battlefield choices made in the heat of the moment. Indeed that is what he is good at. So when a man with his expertise speaks we all should listen. Very intently
Okay, you seem on a little more solid ground, but this is hardly original

Was it ever right to question the judgement of our leadership. Should we just go wherever we are sent even though it seems that only a few people in these two countries that we invaded and “kicked the door in” are the cause of horrific acts. Is it right then to invade a whole nation just because of a few people. Is that morally right.
Incoherent I am afraid - try restructuring that second sentence.

Hitler was beaten because what he was doing was morally wrong- the inner truth of that war gave all our service men and women a drive and power that reached into the psyche of each individual and brought out innovations to beat the beast that was and I am proud of every man woman and child of that time who endured and overcame those odds.
Hyperbole should be used sparingly if you wish to make your point - why would you be proud of every man woman and child? Others have also pointed out the wishful thinking involved in claiming Hitler was beaten because he was a bad man...

So what is the moral justification for enduring in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this mission just being chased by people who’s egos insist that they will succeed. In my opinion morality stands in the way on both war fronts. Will more bombs and loss of life change that deep foundation of the inner truth that is - morality.
Once again you tell us your opinion - I won't care what you think unless you provide a strong, coherent argument to support your position. Its coming, but you haven't got one yet.

I have recently heard said that approximately 655,000 people have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq. Even if only half of those people had only one child each that still makes 327,500 children who are bound to grow up very, very angry wouldn’t you be more that a little pised at why dad is not coming home.
Now there is a reason to sit up and listen. However, you might need to provide some justification for those 655,000 deaths being solely attributable to US / UK foreign policy. Perhaps some of the children left behind might be a tad annoyed with the tribe / ethnic group / religious group who slotted their dad?

That is a terrible legacy to leave all of our children. Some people in power state that now is not the right time to leave Iraq or Afghanistan. I bet they are the ones who supported the invasion in the first place.
I doubt that there will ever be a right time to pull out of this situation. Someone will have to say enough is enough. That person will have to be very, very strong. Yet whoever that person turns out to be in my opinion- morality- will be on their side.
Not bad as a round up - but dont forget, your opinion doesnt matter, only your argument.

Andy Gregory
Overall Andy, you get a C+. Plenty of passion, a good strong voice, but the argument doesnt work simply because the facts don't support it.

Pay_Mistri
 
#12
Overall Andy, you get a C+. Plenty of passion, a good strong voice, but the argument doesnt work simply because the facts don't support it.

Pay_Mistri

So that is what you think about my opinion-c+ well at least I have passed.
Now however I would like to hear your facts on why more must die in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then maybe I could mark your work.
:)
 
#13
So that is what you think about my opinion-c+ well at least I have passed.
Now however I would like to hear your facts on why more must die in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then maybe I could mark your work.
:)[/quote]

I'm not making any such claim - just because your argument wasn't convincing doesn't mean I didn't already hold similar views (nor does it mean I do). If you want to mark my work feel free - you can have a look at any of my posts in other forums.

Pay_Mistri.
 
#14
Pay_Mistri said:
So that is what you think about my opinion-c+ well at least I have passed.
Now however I would like to hear your facts on why more must die in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then maybe I could mark your work.
:)
I'm not making any such claim - just because your argument wasn't convincing doesn't mean I didn't already hold similar views (nor does it mean I do). If you want to mark my work feel free - you can have a look at any of my posts in other forums.

Pay_Mistri.[/quote]

Actually I think that is a compliment. Eternal optimist.
It will all end in tears though-too many good men saying this is all wrong.
If Generals try to warn the government and they don't listen that must tell us all something?
 
#16
Eagle

I think that you are failing to differentiate between morality and morale. In war, all the normal exigencies of accepted human behaviour fly out of the window. At the final bell, if you are on your feet and the enemy is on his back, that is all that counts. When the dust has settled, there will be endless debate on how you managed to achieve this - just look at the debate on the fire bombing of Dresden for example. Morale is an essential ingredient for victory. Morality isn't... It is merely a commodity that surfaces some time afterwards.

Rudyard Kipling's short story Mary Postgate was written against a background of the first bombing raids on England. By this time the Lusitania had also been sunk, and the Germans had carried out the first chlorine gas attacks.
Please read it: it is quite horrific and it gives a disturbing insight into the relationship between morale and morality.

Morality in war counts for very little. It only comes into play when the dust has settled. At the end of the day: Might is right!

SLR
 
#17
Eagle,

One further point: warfare is not just a battle between armed forces, but usually a clash between different civilisations, each of which has its own culture and value system. Some nations place a high premium on human life, while others regard it as an expendable commodity. A good example would be to look at the differences between the Anglo-American Judeo-Christian values and those of the Japanese in the 2nd World War. What would seem moral to one side would in some instances be completely incomprehensible to the other, and vice-versa. In other words any definition of 'morality' is very open to interpretation.

If you are going to be marked on this, I would recommend that you factor it into your argument.

Good luck!

SLR
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#18
'That deep unbreakable belief that they will win because they have the moral high ground'

A quote from your essay - and instructive as it is clear that if we accept that we are fighting an enemy in Afg and IZ, there is little doubt that 'they' have this unbreakable belief in the rightness of their cause whereas 'we' do not.

A poorly made case, a poorly understood context and a reluctance to commit wholeheartedly means that in order to WIN the insurgents simply have to 'stay the course.' With Bush's advisors, our PM and CGS all saying we are part of the problem, the enemy simply has to keep plugging away at us and eventually we will withdraw. Ho Chi Minh - 'He will kill ten of mine for every one of his and eventually I will win.'

In this case, not about morality or the 'rightness' of our (or their) cause, rather the point at which 'wars of choice,' which to Western democracies IZ and Afg are, become inconvenient for those democracies, versus a jihad in which the only acceptable outcome is the defeat (or conversion) of unbelievers. As we do not preach democracy or death, we cannot hope to defeat (intellectually or in a societal sense) fundamentalist Islam.
 
#19
Imagine if an anonymous poll was conducted right at this moment between the soldiers on the ground in Iraq.
If the question was put to them as 'do you think that it is right for you to be in this country right now'?

what do you think the majority of those soldiers would say in response?

'yes it is right that we are here' or 'no we should not be here'.

Because this seemingly small point is a critical factor in deciding the long term outcome of any conflict.

President Bush has said today that he agrees that what is happening in Iraq is similar to what happened in Vietnam.
The introduction of democracy does not seem to align itself with what the population that is left want.

With all that superior firepower there seems to be something missing.
"Why don't they want what is good for them" some may ask.

I believe that it is because it is their country and they know in their soul that no one has a right to impose their views on another human being even by using superior force.

My point therefore is if the perceived enemy believe that they are right to drive others from their country then their fight will be for a moral victory.
If the soldiers who are sent into that battle have any doubt about the validity of their quest then the outcome seems to me to be predetermined.
I still believe that morality will decide the outcome of battles that are to be fought over extended periods of time.

These observations of mine are gathered from what I see and hear and from other aspects of human behaviour. History clearly plays a part in my opinions I just wonder if anyone has considered history before embarking on these quests to instill democracy. Was it really all necessary in the first place. :?
 
#20
EAGLE1 said:


I believe that it is because it is their country and they know in their soul that no one has a right to impose their views on another human being even by using superior force.


Except all the fanatics with the bombs that want to take power and impose their extremist views on the rest of the country you mean?
 

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