Article Overview:   Are there any ethics in war?  In death?


Wednesday--April 9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 574
The Ethics Of Death

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZERO, New York City, Apr. 9-- Watching the news churns my stomach.
      I’ve had indigestion ever since the war broke out.
      Maybe it’s because of the Ethics of Death.

Is Death justified in War?

      In many ways, the word Ethics and Death seem to have little to do with one another.   One word involves the evolution of the human condition and the other the termination of it.
      Yet there is a struggle today to justify death, and to make death “more” or “less ethical.”  The process wages war on my stomach.
      Example:  killing journalists.
      On one side of the coin, the journalists are saying there was no sniper fire and the American tank wantonly fired on the Palestine Hotel.   The result—two deaths, a number of wounded.   They claim the deaths were the result of unethical actions—shooting at a known sanctuary of journalists.
      The Pentagon says the Rules of War allow instant decisions to be made to return fire from enemy forces.   The tank commander was within the ethical boundaries when he returned fire—assuming he was fired upon.
       The squabble is over the ethics of death.

Moral jousting

    When is death justified, just, right?
       On the O’Reilly Factor aired on Fox News, there was a debate between the host and a Princeton University professor last night over the ethics of killing Iraqi civilians.  The professor’s point was America is paying much more attention to U.S. casualties and very little to Iraqi civilian victims of war.    His point underscored that America was “unethical” in giving priority to its dead and wounded while virtually ignoring the number of civilian deaths.

Bill O'Reilly debates a Princeton Professor on the "equality of death"

      Bill O’Reilly, host of the show, dodged the question by presenting another:  “How many civilian lives are being saved by the U.S. versus all the lives Saddam Hussein has taken during his years of tyrannical rule?”
         Estimates of Hussein’s brutality, including gassing civilians, range upwards of a half-million.    However, the Princeton professor would not be deterred.   He kept bringing up the “equality of death” factor, the formula where one life of an Iraqi deserves equal attention in the press and media to the life of an American, British, Australian or journalist.  The absence of reporting on such deaths, the professor said, was a sign of “ethical inequality.”
          Of course.
          War’s ugliness brings down the walls of ethics.  It corrodes and crumbles them and fogs any glasses that one might have thought impervious to such violations.  Human blood splattering against the eyeballs shifts the vision from ethics to utter horror, especially when it is blood of your own, or your kin, or to those whom you feel kinship.
           Is war ethical?   Can it ever be?
           I doubt it.

Can the evil of War turn the Sentinel of Vigilance into the Beast of Terror?

          Even when waged against the most brutal of all monsters, the death and destruction that comes with war seems to dwarf its original mission--to rid the world of evil.

Hawk of War


  But often the evil of war itself overpowers the evil it sets to right, making the act of eliminating the evil, evil, corrupting the good seeking to destroy the bad, turning the Sentinel of Vigilance into the Beast of Terror it attacks.
            Is this depressing?


Dove of Peace

           No.  But it does mean that the left and right, the war hawks and doves, all shout fruitlessly.   In the midst of war itself, the cry should be to end the war so that Vigilance can rule rather than Complacency.
           War, and all its ugly unethical nature, is the result of a nation and nations of Complacency, who allow Terrorism to rise in temperature until the Beast of Terror cannot be constrained.
           Only Vigilance will squash war.

Only Vigilance will squash War

           But in the middle of it, there can be no ethics.
           We should ban the words "right" and "wrong" during a war.
           They mean nothing except when wars are over.




April 8--Killing Baghdad Bob--Will We Cry?

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