Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Soldiers and moral responsibility

I made a post in the past about racists. I argued that racists ought to be held more accountable for their racism today than racist did in a previous time or in some other places than in the west. This is because we live in an information rich and free society. Often we think of soldiers fighting an unjust war as somehow excused (they were young, under threat, pressured by their society, etc, etc). I believe that these excuses for the most part, do not seem satisfactory. Now I don't think they deserve severe punishment for their actions unless they have committed war crimes but I do believe they deserve some responsibility and the consequences following for their actions.

But it seems to me that this further accountability is also attributable to soldiers who engage in unjust warfare. Excuses given in the past, for example by Nazis soldiers for invading other countries, if they had been poor excuses are now even worse excuses for doing the same acts (invasion, occupation).

The Nazis had better excuses than people do today for engaging in unjust wars because not only did they not live in a society in which disabusing information was available on ethical reasoning but because they were under a bigger personal threat for disobeying military orders than today's soldiers in places like Europe and the US.

So soldiers who have fought in demonstrably unjust wars, ceteris paribus, today ought to be held to a higher accountability than soldiers of a time before the Information Age (which may include Nazis). This of course, is only in regards to going to responsibility of going in an unjust war, not in what is done in war.