Summary: In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara recounts eleven life lessons. One can draw on this post to examine Sidgwick's proportionality rule, which aligns well with McNamara's fifth lesson (beginning at 39:35). McNamara argues that "Proportionality should be a guideline in war," and he discusses his role in the decision to drop incendiary bombs on Japanese cities. The lesson concludes with McNamara looking into the camera and admitting that he and others (he specifically mentions General Curtis LeMay) were behaving as war criminals. He asks rhetorically, "What makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?" This excerpt from the documentary would be a nice accompaniment to Michael Walzer's book, Just and Unjust Wars, where Walzer begins with the distinction between jus ad bellum and jus in bello. Jus ad bellum refers to questions about whether engaging in a particular war is morally defensible, while jus in bello, refers to questions about whether the conduct undertaken once the war is underway is morally defensible. Strictly speaking, Walzer argues it's not true that all is fair in love and war. Moral issues abound in warfare, and some actions are regarded as more "fair" or ethical than others. Discussions surrounding the morality of war are more than mere armchair conjecture. Morality matters because the ability of an armed struggle to acquire resources and inspire sacrifice is directly tied to whether the struggle is deemed just.
Submitted By: Anonymous