June 27, 2022

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Throughout the history of mankind; wars have been fought, victories won and battles lost. Oftentimes there is little discussion about morality or even the necessity of war. The end to the countless wars seems just a distant dream, what justifies war?

In Victor Frankl’s book; Man’s Search for Meaning, talks about the after-effects of war, the atrocities they bring, and the cause, being one of ultimate “suffering.”

People always suffer in one way or another, trauma is trauma, pain is pain, rarely is it felt the same. Experience has shown me first hand what this brings from the opposite spectrum, being on the receiving end of the infliction. Sartre explains that the “Ego”, or the “I and Me”, as being “two separate things.” War is generally derived from “Man’s” ego, we accept it as a necessary evil because the “good” will outweigh the “bad”.

What is the benefit to the majority?

For me, the majority are those enslaved, brutalized and harmed by their own family, or fellow citizens. In some parts of the world, people that are enslaved are often enslaved to ideas, notions and even literal slavery. Children sold as sex slaves in the 21st century, young brides married off to older men, in an “arranged marriage.” Some even as young as 9 years old.

Freedom exists if people are willing to fight for it, sometimes you have to even change what you believe to fight for others to be free. Frantz Fanon, a French West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher who fought in the Free French army and joined the Allied convoy in the 1940’s to fight in World War 2, in my opinion would argue differently, specifically when he stated;

“The authority of the state for the individual is the reproduction of the family authority which has fashioned his childhood. The individual assimilates every authority encountered at a later date with parental authority: he perceives the present in terms of the past. As with every aspect of human behavior, behavior towards authority is something to be learned.”(Fanon, 2008)

It is something that is acquired through learning, you look at a country as you look towards your own family. A community within a community, a father figure is something embedded in our society, at least that is how it is here in the United States.

The Founding Fathers would wanted us to live free so we could create our own prosperity.

We can create future generations, to leave this world better than how we found it! 

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, “perceived” authority has always “informed” me that war is a necessary evil. Having justified atrocities in the name of “liberating” innocent people from tyranny and unjust rule, those who may not have even wanted to be free, but were completely unable to defend themselves in anyway.

Edmund Burke said; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand and do nothing.”

When you learn about people being enslaved similar to how Frankl was enslaved in concentration camps, then you want to do something to help people like that be liberated. You want to go in and fight for their individual freedom, no matter what and at any cost, even if that means sacrificing your own freedom. At least this is how I believed as a United States Marine. It was never my duty to question why, it was to do or die; from the poem Charge of The Light Brigade.

Major General Smedley Buttler once said, War is a Racket! I am not sure war can truly be stopped or ever prevented. But to sit by and do nothing, allows for evil to prevail. For me, I always wanted to help others, whether it be my fellow countrymen or serving the interest of others. The common factor that many people seem to share from all the countries that I have been too, is the desire to be free and live out their life without government intervention.

War should only be necessary to protect the innocent, to end the spread of people like Hitler, and his Nazi Regime from spreading throughout Europe and the rest of the world, as an example.

What does it truly mean to protect the innocent?

Who gets to determine what innocence we save?

Who do we sacrifice?

That is what war brings; nothing but death, destruction, chaos, all forms of suffering. We allow Nation States such as China to practice genocide, North Korea to enslave their people and continually threaten to nuke us for 50+ years, we are at war with invisible enemies in the 21st century. Everything online is deception, infiltrated by any Nation. All war is some form of espionage, Sun Tzu and the Art of War, has turned into digital warfare, where enemies are everywhere and nowhere. War causes an overwhelming amount of suffering, usually innocent women, children, the elderly, people unable to defend themselves because of their circumstances are the ones who suffer the most. They need to be defended from a fight they never asked for, there has to be those willing to bring the fight to them. Meet them at their door and defeat them in their own land, so they never dare to bring it anywhere my children are.

That is why I stood and still stand, I am grateful so many people are still able to defend the idea of freedom and fight for what the believe in, at least that is how it is here in the United States. That is all any of it is, an idea of self-liberation, one of absolute freedom. 

Victor Frankl said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning; that we must maintain discipline through suffering, in a more literal sense we have to find the discipline within ourselves to endure the suffering as it inflicts itself upon us and casts us into those pits of hell, I couldn’t even fathom life in a concentration camp less someone like Frankl write it in such a detail I could vision myself there. Undoubting self misery and hopelessness.

Even while in a concentration camp Victor was able to maintain the mindset he did, he had discipline while he suffered. Writing;

“Despite all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the line in a concentration camp, spiritual life could deepen.”( Frankl, 2014)

 

Spiritualism is something that is derived from within. Oftentimes it is something that can be found on the battlefield in the most unsuspecting of times.

Finding spirituality in a time of war is to see morality, to do things ethically to later be portrayed as something different. “What is thought-provoking, what gives us to think, is then not anything that we determine, not anything that only we are instituting, only we are proposing. According to our assertion, what of itself gives us most to think about, what is most thought-provoking, is this – that we are still not thinking.”(Heidegger & Krell, 2008) Makes you think about thinking as Heidegger puts it, and so many times people speak on war without having experienced it first hand. They are so quick to discredit anyone that has a perspective of experience, war is sometimes necessary if you think of people like Frankl and understand the desire to liberate another when you know yourself capable. It is easy to detest war, with the dichotomy of spirituality and individual morality, you try to do what is ethical for those around you. War is primitive in nature of being and of mental endurance as Frankl points out, “mental and physical primitiveness” all systems of control and overall collapsing of the inner soul; similar to what religion brings. Ideologies could be considered primitive in everything, “The essence of truth is freedom.”(Heidegger & Krell, 2008) The truth of what we do and why we do it, and those who suffer through it. Freedom from suffering comes from the understanding that sometimes you have to suffer the test of time. Frankl saw an end to it, and many people have philosophies about it, that is time. 

Can we ever justify war as a whole?

Or is it done more individually?

Wars fought for the perceived betterment of mankind and justifying the atrocities they bring collectively. The United Nations established protocols called the Geneva Conventions, which are the articles outlining the overall barbarism allowed in war by the collective Western Nation. Containing guidelines governing the way “we” fight a war, being part of the United Nations, any member state of the alliance has to abide by these protocols or face being charged with crimes against humanity. This does not mean that the enemy follows the same guidelines.

They were set up after World War 2 when Hitler devastated the once Civilized Western World of Europe. Inflicting suffering upon people, in war, it is either kill or be killed, thats why you do it. Trying to rationalize it as the betterment for all mankind. Frankl points out when he describes the Capos, men are capable of horrible things.

“We were grateful for the smallest of mercies.”(Frankl)

The Third Geneva Conventions apply to prisoners of war, because of the barbarity the Nazis brought to the Jewish People. Reflecting on war, the reasons I went, still feeling justified; ultimately believing we were there to help end the suffering, specifically freeing the children. I feel like we played a side in helping liberate them of that ideology of control, that a lot of them have inside their heads forced on them by older men.

General Smedley Butler said in his book; “War is a racket. It always has been.”(Butler, 1935)

Within the Geneva Conventions; “represents the fourth updated version of the Geneva Convention on the wounded and sick following those adopted in 1864, 1906, and 1929. “In 1949, an international conference of diplomats built on the earlier treaties for the protection of war victims, revising and updating them into four new conventions comprising 429 articles of law—known as the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949.” It contains 64 articles. These protect the wounded and sick, but also for medical and religious personnel, medical units, and medical transports. The Convention also recognizes the distinctive emblems. It has two annexes containing a draft agreement relating to hospital zones and a model identity card for medical and religious personnel.” (1949) This shows us the guidelines that the Geneva conventions set up with after World War 2 in order to prevent another Holocaust from happening.

Here is how we try to justify the Nature of war and rationalize unnecessary suffering. If we could learn from history then why do we repeat it? War has some principles now; “It requires humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, without any adverse distinction.”(1949)

If we follow good intentions and moral actions, the enemy will not follow the same rules. 

Have we lost sight of reality? 

The Geneva Conventions protect against unnecessary suffering, but all war causes suffering, all war is deception. However, when do we deceive those who are willing to fight for what seems to be a just cause? Why would we deceive our own Countrymen and service members?  During war, I saw our current Presidential administration of that time, tell the people of the village we invaded that we would not use bombs according to a French news report I saw that aired April 2010. My job was mortars, those are bombs, regardless of deception, I did not join to be lied to. Fanon points out that “we should not lose sight of reality.” But what is reality? What I see is not what others perceive and I think. That is when you see the barbarity of war and the human potential for evil, that is truly revealed.

It takes violence to stop violence, to liberate those persecuted by violence takes a superior force of violence. We were that superior force and every time, superior violence creates ultimate suffering.

Very seldom do we go to war without “just cause?” In the book Revolutionary Management, John Adams wrote in his diary December 17th, 1773; “The people should never rise without doing something to be remembered, something notable and striking.”(Adams, 1773) I will continue to justify the necessity of war to end the intentional and deliberate suffering inflicted upon those unable to fight for themselves, to stand for those unwilling, and to face adversity head-on without remorse, or personal regret.

The burden carried is remorse seldom felt by those who have never experienced war. There are real barbarians within this world, even in the 21st-century people are willing to enslave and inflict suffering upon other humans within their own country. I heard stories from the ‘Chai Boys’ of Afghanistan also known as Bacha Bazi, they told me the atrocities brought on by members of their own family and those of the Taliban who had enslaved them.

I believe these to be the untold stories of the true morality of individuals and the cause of some wars, learning why some individuals do go and fight. You can see it now on the mainstream media networks how the Taliban treat the People of Afghanistan. To stop the suffering of innocent people, it takes people willing to fight barbarians, people willing to cut your head off and eat your heart.

If we as individuals abide by guidelines laid out in things such as the Geneva Conventions, I believe that we can justify the atrocities that war brings. Especially if we have a moral conscience and ethical desires with our intentions. To liberate people of their suffering from ruthless totalitarianism.

At times I have wondered if justifying things as war only brings further war, at least war within ourselves as we try to understand the things we think and feel. It would make me “feel” better if it would make me sleep through the night easier, which it never has. All I found is discipline through my suffering and the willingness to endure it.

I think war can be justified if our intentions are pure, the information is accurate and the cause is just. War seems to only benefit the few and cause suffering to the many. I am not sure war can be justified, except by the individual that knows that their intentions were pure.

 

 

 

Citations

Fanon, F., Markmann, C. L., & Gilroy, P. (2008). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press.

Frankl, V. E., Lasch, I., Kushner, H. S., & Wnislade, W. J. (2015). Man’s search for meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

The Geneva conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols. (2020, November 30). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.icrc.org/en/document/geneva-conventions-1949-additional-protocols

Axelrod, A. (2008). Revolutionary management John Adamy on Leadership. Guilford, Conn: LP.

Heidegger, M., & Krell, D. F. (2008). Basic writings: From Being and time (1927) to The task of thinking (1964). New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought.

BUTLER, S. D. (2018). WAR IS A RACKET: Original edition. DAUPHIN PUBLICATIONS.