Feb. 3, 2020 —
As this volume of reflections on military ethics in light of World War I comes to a close, a framing of diverse insights is both necessary and beneficial. This evaluation may be accomplished, I suggest, by relating military ethics more broadly to the overall purpose of military action, as well as of human life. Within this schema, war may be understood as an attempt at resilience—a striving after societal flourishing that was as evident in the Great War as it is today. By situating discussion about military ethics in this way, we may achieve greater clarity regarding the purpose and nature of war as well as insight into possible present and future expressions of warfare and the place of ethics in them.
The Telos of War
Human beings, it would seem, have an innate drive toward life.1 Individuals and societies alike seek not only to survive but also to flourish despite forces that would undermine these efforts. Scholars have been contemplating this phenomenon for millennia. Aristotle, for instance, characterized the shared goal of human flourishing in this way: the telos (goal/purpose) of the socio-political establishment is to enable development “for the sake of the good life [eudaimonia].”2 Aristotle’s understanding of society is inextricably linked to his understanding of human nature; because human beings are political animals, naturally gathering into societies for the pursuit of mutual flourishing, human life is necessarily tied to ethical considerations such as the evaluation of what constitutes “the good life” and appropriate means to achieve this end—themselves always ethical and value-laden efforts.3 Therefore, as long as humans gather together in societies, they demonstrate the continued relevance of ethics, in the very least through the adoption of a common telos and hope for progress toward this end. In sum, humans are ethical beings because they are political beings. Furthermore, it follows that the state’s political activities are an extension of ethical action. Here, acts of warfare themselves become extensions of political action4—or, as Clausewitz famously put it, war is a “mere continuation of policy by other means.”5 In this respect, ethics cannot be untethered either from politics or warfare.
Donald Kagan, however, suggests that such a view is misplaced. He notes wryly, “It is a special characteristic of the modern Western world, as opposed to other civilizations and the premodern Western World, to believe that human beings can change and control the physical and social environment and even human nature to improve the condition of life.”6 Instead, for Kagan, the origin of war is found elsewhere. Though he acknowledges that many scholars have located motivation for war in “competition for power,”7 Kagan finds more insightful Thucydides’ claim that “people go to war out of ‘honor, fear, and interest.’”8 Each of these motivations is illuminating in its own regard, yet, irrespective of impetus, the existence of warfare itself is indicative of the human struggle to flourish. This demonstrates, as Kagan notes regarding war, that the “secret of the success of our species has been its ability to learn from experience and to adapt its behavior accordingly.”9
War, then, could be conceptualized as an attempt at resilience. In particular, through war human societies seek to ensure their own flourishing despite detractors. Within the arena of military ethics, the concept of resilience may therefore provide a helpful framework for assessing the pursuit of eudaimonia (or, alternatively, the motivations of honor, fear, and interest, as it may be) through war, at both individual and societal levels. This follows from Aristotle’s thought, where, because war is a political act, the aims of war (however conceived) and acts of warfare are themselves value-laden and therefore inherently concerned with ethics (right practice). Thus, ethics is vital to the waging of warfare inasmuch as it defines and delimits the motivations, scope, and means of war in its greater aim of supporting the flourishing of society at large.10
But some may consider this an outdated or limited viewpoint. Given a variety of recent societal and technological advances, is ethical reflection still necessary in warfare? Put another way, will the discipline of military ethics remain resilient despite winds of societal change?
A Viable Future?
Certainly, an implied question throughout this volume has been whether military ethics is and will remain a viable aspect of military operations. Does this discipline have sufficient adaptability and applicability to be utilized in the warfare of the 21st century and beyond? While by no means providing a conclusive answer, it is our hope that this volume is suggestive of ways in which military ethics remains an essential aspect of the profession of arms and will continue to be so for years to come. Many contributions to this volume have highlighted the significant role of ethics in warfare, where it serves as an integral component of military planning at all echelons. This volume’s retrospective look at the Great War has demonstrated that, though much in warfare has changed, much has also remained the same. Indeed, history may furnish valuable insight into the future of military ethics.
The Great War and Human Flourishing
World War I, a conflict resulting both in tremendous societal repercussions and widespread personal loss, has much to teach us. Although at first glance war may seem to be solely concerned with human conflict, war may in fact provide insight into human flourishing. Resilience, which history suggests may be both present and absent in war, is a key linkage between the two concepts.
In his classic The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell insightfully notes, “Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends. . . . But the Great War was more ironic than any before or since. . . . It reversed the Idea of Progress.”11 The irony of World War I, in particular, is that the supposed advance of human civilization—technological and otherwise—led not to greater peace, but rather to a war unlike the world had before seen. A monumental shift had occurred in warfare, and this change did not seem to lead to greater human flourishing. At a societal level, the Great War evoked a distinct lack of resilience—regress instead of the hoped-for progress. This was evidenced perhaps nowhere more clearly than in the testament of individual lives, particularly of those lost and those irreparably marred.
Warfare is a complicated matter, involving a conglomeration of technological, political, and social considerations as well as the most sacred of human commitments. From its intensely physical nature to the unseen but powerful forces of personal and societal motivation, war not only involves but also challenges basic human needs, longings, and commitments. When the detritus of technological and political trappings is pushed aside, the simple fact remains that war is primarily concerned with human beings.12 Despite a variety of motivations for war, the actual waging of war is a very personal, and very human, matter.
Yet, ostensibly with the exponential industrialization of warfare in World War I and beyond, the human side of warfare gradually began to be displaced. The mechanization of weapons systems, defensive technologies, and means of communication increasingly sidelined what were once human-centric capabilities and tasks through enabling more effective warfare while also preserving one’s own safety. Indeed, the sanguine, earthy nature of much pre-industrial warfare, where close combat often entailed warriors being near enough to smell one another, was replaced by a “safe” distance removed from not only the smell of one’s opponent, but also the sight of their faces and sound of their cries.13 Through this monumental change, warfare’s essentially human character was still apparent, albeit a character somewhat distanced from the immediacy of many earlier types of warfare. But, despite changes, at the individual level of human warriors engaged in warfare, persons sought to press on despite obstacles in order to preserve human flourishing at its most basic level—that of survival.14
Yet war, inasmuch as it is a human endeavor, is often traumatizing.15 This was certainly the case in World War I where, as Martin Gilbert suggests, “individual suffering and distress were on a massive scale, particularly in the front-line trenches.”16 Indeed, in pursuing the flourishing of their society through warfare, nations can traumatize their inhabitants—the warriors who themselves become a part of the collateral damage of this quest—in what could be termed “personal wounding in pursuit of national resilience.” Nation-states often attempt to mitigate this damage through programs aimed at developing resilience among warriors. This, in itself, is an ethical move in support of an ethical dilemma and cannot be disentangled from ethical considerations. Because the resilience of human beings is significantly influenced by ethical and spiritual correlates,17 it seems likely that these factors will remain important within the human domain of warfare in the present and the future.18
Contributions to this volume have reflected on the importance of ethics in warfare from a variety of standpoints. Utilizing insights gained from the Great War, authors have addressed topics as diverse as chemical warfare, nationalism, technological advance, and human recovery from trauma. We may see each of these areas as being concerned with the proper ordering of human life within the context of war—what I have described as resilience—in its own way. Indeed, the appeal of the concept of resilience is evident throughout this volume. David Richardson calls for a renewed “spiritual resilience” grounded in a transcendent ethic to support war-
fighters, while Andrew Totten raises questions concerning the centrality of human resilience in warfare given the rise of autonomous warfare systems. Other contributions also trace various efforts to support the resilience of warriors such as the use of drugs (Pfaff), spiritual resources (Lee), and education (Statler) in the promotion of sustained well-being. Yet it is not a foregone conclusion that such considerations will be necessary in the warfare of the future. As Totten argues in this volume, “Resilience seems to be increasingly a matter of systems and networks, not human hearts and minds, let alone souls.” If the centrality of individual human resilience within warfare is in question, how much more so is the entire enterprise of military ethics?
At the center of these queries are two considerations: the changing nature of Western society—what has been termed a move toward a “post-Christian” society—and changes in fundamental relationalities between human beings and technology.
With the tradition of Western military ethics largely situated within a heritage of a Judeo-Christian culture that is waning in influence in the West, is this discipline still relevant to modern warfare, or is it merely a relic of the past? Will it remain resilient, surviving the monumental societal changes currently occurring so as to sustain applicability and efficacy for societies engaged in warfare and for those employed in promulgating it? Given the gravity of the taking of human life and the widespread destruction that often accompanies war, many would maintain that ethical reflection is needed in order to be responsible in this serious matter. Yet in a postmodern and computer-age society, ethics can often be regarded as passé—a hindrance to “What works” and “What makes me happy.” While changing societal currents are substantial, rather than being a detriment to the continued relevance of military ethics, its historical grounding within a particular tradition of thought provides a basis from which it may grow and develop as it reassesses contemporary situations in light of a rich history. This foundation, then, is not something to discard, but rather something upon which to build, especially during times of great change.
Beyond shifting ethical foundations, 21st-century conflicts evidence a change that some characterize as a fundamental shift in the character of war—a new paradigm in which warfare loses its human trappings.19 A number of contributions to this volume have highlighted this shift, suggesting that current and future conflicts may operate according to a profoundly different paradigm. That a seismic shift within human-technological relations is occurring cannot be doubted, but this change does not necessarily create a new paradigmatic understanding of warfare. Given that war, as a political activity, is concerned with the societal pursuit of human flourishing, even if the waging of war increasingly becomes less human-centric, the telos of war itself remains unchanged. Flourishing is still evaluated in terms of human flourishing. Computer systems do not wage war on their own behalf, but rather are utilized by human agents on behalf of a nation-state and its desired flourishing.20 Thus, even in a warfare environment characterized by non-human actors, the nature of warfare will necessarily remain human—and also ethical. Warfare is used in service of human communities, seeking their welfare and flourishing, and therefore ethical considerations remain relevant inasmuch as human beings are the authors of warfare (albeit perhaps increasingly not the agents of warfare) and the object of warfare’s telos.
A New Epoch of Warfare?
Are the societal and technological advances of our own time of sufficiently revolutionary character to require a new paradigm of warfare, and thus also of military ethics? Has the rapid development of artificial intelligence sidelined the human element in war altogether? Perhaps. “Time will tell,” as the saying goes, yet, as we have begun to explore in this volume, time may also give insight in an altogether different manner—through looking to the past.
Certainly, many view their own temporal-historical situation as unique. This was the case for many individuals during the First World War. In a sermon titled “The Armistice” that he preached in Westminster Abbey on November 10, 1918, the Archbishop of Canterbury and principal leader of the Church of England, Randall Thomas Davidson, suggested:
To say that we have never known such moments as these, whether of August 1914 or of November 1918, is far short of the reality. The world—the world—has known no such hours before. Centuries hence, people will look back upon them with eager and absorbed intent . . . [determined] to reproduce and to re-picture what it must have been, what it must have meant, to be alive just then.21
Undeniably, the Great War, up to that time, was without precedent. Yet merely decades later its supreme uniqueness was to be eradicated by a war of even greater magnitude. Moreover, the Great War was only an initial foray into the 20th century that would see, by one count, 240 million people dead due war, with a total of 26 wars that each individually resulted in more than 1 million dead.22
If many were mistaken in their assessment of changes in their own time following the end of World War I, by what standard are we to judge the changes of the modern sociopolitical climate? Will the assessments of our own age withstand the judgments of future generations? We do not fully know. We owe it to ourselves and to those who will follow us, however, to give serious thought to these considerations; we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past.
A Resilient Military Ethic?
Warfare has changed drastically in the 100 years since the armistice of World War I, and warfare will continue to change. Due to technological advances and changing societal currents, warfare may be a much different experience for the modern warrior than it was for the soldier of the Great War, yet because of war’s essentially human nature, modern military leaders face many of the same challenges faced by military leaders of the First World War. Now warfare seems to be shifting once again, but will this result in the betterment of humanity?
In the conclusion to his magisterial treatment of the development of society and warfare over the last millennium, William McNeill suggests that in our own era:
wesome power and awful dilemmas have never been so closely juxtaposed. What we believe and how we act therefore matter more than in ordinary ages. Clear thinking and bold action, based as always on inadequate evidence, are all we have to see us through to whatever the future holds. It will differ from anyone’s intentions as radically as the actual past differed from our forefathers’ plans and wishes. But study of that past may reduce the discrepancy between expectation and reality, if only by encouraging us to expect surprises—among them, a breakdown of the pattern of the future suggested in this conclusion. For however horrendous it is to live in the face of uncertainty, the future, like the past, depends upon humanity’s demonstrated ability to make and remake natural and social environments within limits set mainly by our capacity to agree on goals of collective action.23
In a word, then, the future depends on our resilience. As we assess the challenges of future warfare, we must evaluate how we may successfully—and resiliently—face what is to come. What seems to be clear is that military ethics must remain an essential part of societal efforts to shape what McNeill calls “goals of collective action” and means of pursuing them in the promotion of human flourishing.
Thus, even if we are entering a new paradigm of less-human warfare, we will need all possible resources at our disposal to face the challenges of future war—which will still remain a paradigm of war, and therefore necessarily be concerned with the flourishing and resilience of human beings. As such, ethics will persist as a vital aspect of warfare, properly utilizing ways, ends, and means so as to ensure that the society we are intent on preserving through war is itself one worth preserving.24
1 See, for instance, Ilia N. Karatoreos and Bruce S. McEwen, “Annual Research Review: The Neurobiology and Physiology of Resilience and Adaptation across the Life Course,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 54, no. 4 (April 2013), 337–347.
2 Aristotle, Politics I.2, 1252b30. Quotations are from Jonathan Barnes, ed., The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, vols. 1 and 2 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). Aristotle goes even further to claim that “a state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of life only” (III.9, 1280a32-3). Indeed, the “end of the state is the good life” (III.9, 1280b39–1281a4). Similarly, in the terms that the Founding Fathers used to frame the Constitution, the United States of America was founded in order to “establish Justice, insure [sic] domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
3 Aristotle recognized that disagreement exists concerning what constitutes “the good life” (Nicomachean Ethics 1.4, 1095a21-5). Nonetheless, he still viewed eudaimonia as something that is inherently valuable, thereby being the proper telos of both human life and human society (Nicomachean Ethics I.7, 1097a35-b5).
4 For instance, Aristotle suggests that “the higher parts of states, that is to say, the warrior class, the class engaged in the administration of justice, and that engaged in deliberation . . . these are more essential to the state than the parts which minister to the necessaries of life” (Politics IV.4, 1291a26-9). Cf. Politics I.5, 1254b30; I.8, 1256b22-6. Commenting on Aristotle’s Politics, Alasdair MacIntyre draws together several of these themes by noting the necessity of the use of virtue in ethical living: “The courage and skill required in military actions, the temperateness required in respect of pleasures . . . all these may at different times have to be judged rightly if a just judgment is to be made.” Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 106. I am grateful to Thomas Achord for his helpful discussion of these matters.
5 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), Bk. 1, Ch. 1, 24. John Keegan qualifies both Aristotle and Clausewitz’s claims, noting that war itself predates both nation-states and politics. He suggests regarding these thinkers, “Neither dared confront the thought that man is a thinking animal in whom the intellect directs the urge to hunt and the ability to kill.” See John Keegan, A History of War (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 3. Keegan’s insight is worthy of serious consideration, but, in the end, it complements rather than detracts from my larger argument that war itself is indicative of an attempt at human resilience.
6 Donald Kagan, On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace (New York: Anchor Books, 1995), 3.
7 Ibid., 6.
8 Ibid., 8, citing Thucydides, 1.76.2.
9 Ibid., 11. On the factors leading to the First World War in particular, see Kagan, Origins of War, 81–214.
10 As Paul Coyer has argued in this volume, a healthy nationalism is one that balances national interest with genuine concern for the well-being of those who do not belong to the nation. This, too, is an ethical consideration. At one level, I argue that ethical considerations are an implicit aspect of human political activity, of which war is an integral part. But certainly a case could be made for ethical considerations impeding military expediency. This may seem to hold weight when considering short-term outcomes; in the last analysis, however, a reading of history would display that disposing of ethics is a self-defeating endeavor. From a purely utilitarian viewpoint, Nazi Germany, for instance, often relegated ethical concerns for the expediency of short-term outcomes—including and especially against civilian populations—that it deemed as suitable for achieving intended purposes, but this often undercut rather than supported war efforts through, among other things, galvanizing civilian populations and enemy combatants even more stalwartly against the regime.
11 Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 7–8. Similarly, Fussell invokes John Keegan’s conclusion regarding the incomprehensibility of the Great War: “The First World War is a mystery. Its origins are mysterious. So is its course.” Fussell, The Great War, 339, citing John Keegan, The First World War (London: Hutchinson, 1998).
12 For this insight I am indebted to the Reverend David Barrett, CF.
13 The creation of distance between oneself and the enemy did not begin with industrialized warfare—the invention of the longbow, crossbow, and gunpowder, for instance, clearly increased lethal distance in warfare—but a strong case could be made for the exponential growth of this distance during World War I due to a number of industrial and technological advances, both offensive and defensive. Cf. William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 330–336; and Robert L. O’Connell, Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 231–269. This shift is evident in the fascinating early account of the war by famed violinist Fritz Kreisler who fought for his ancestral “Fatherland,” Austria, on the Eastern front against Russia. Kreisler notes regarding his experience in the trenches, “it is astonishing how little actual hatred exists between fighting men. One fights fiercely and passionately, mass against mass, but as soon as the mass crystallizes itself into human individuals whose features one actually can recognize, hatred almost ceases. Of course, fighting continues, but somehow it loses its fierceness. . . . One still shoots at his opponent, but almost regrets when he sees him drop.” See Fritz Kreisler, Four Weeks in the Trenches: The War Story of a Violinist (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1915), 69. The eased tension between passionate fighting and sympathy for the enemy that is evident in Kreisler’s account is itself made possibly by physical distance from one’s opponent. Such emotional distance from the act of killing is, in part, a corollary of the increased space between opposing parties in World War I. For an incisive description and analysis of trench warfare in World War I, see John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), 204–280.
14 In the 20th century, the study of human beings’ response to adversity has often been centered around research on war. This was true of the foundational understandings developed through studying soldiers returning from World War I and World War II (See Ann S. Masten, “Global Perspectives on Resilience in Children and Youth,” Child Development 85, no. 1 [January 2014], 7–8), but is also true of the more recent study of resilience within the context of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cf. Rhonda Cornum, Michael D. Matthews, and Martin E.P. Seligman, “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness: Building Resilience in a Challenging Institutional Context,” American Psychologist 66, no. 1 (2011), 4–9; Peter Zimmermann et al., “Personal Values in Soldiers after Military Deployment: Associations with Mental Health and Resilience,” European Journal of Psychotraumatology, vol. 5 (May 2014); George A. Bonanno et al., “Trajectories of Trauma Symptoms and Resilience in Deployed U.S. Military Service Members: Prospective Cohort Study,” The British Journal of Psychiatry 200, no. 4 (April 2012), 317–323; S.B. Harvey et al., “The Long-Term Consequences of Military Deployment: A 5-Year Cohort Study of United Kingdom Reservists Deployed to Iraq in 2003,” American Journal of Epidemiology 176, no. 12 (November 2012), 1177–1184. In one respect, increased individual human resilience may be seen as a means of promoting societal resilience, including through the successful waging of war. To this end, the concept of resilience has itself been used widely within the U.S. Armed Forces. Cf. Army Doctrine Reference Publication 1-0, The Army Profession (Washington, DC: Headquarters Department of the Army, June 2015), 5-16, 6-11, 6-22, 7-1; Army Regulation 350-53, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army, June 2014); Lisa S. Meredith et al., Promoting Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Military (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2011); see also contributions in this volume from Richardson, Totten, and Lee.
15 Cf. Rut Gubkin, “An Exploration of Spirituality and the Traumatizing Experiences of Combat,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology 56, no. 4 (July 2016), 311–330; R. Srinivasa Murthy and Rashmi Lakshminarayana, “Mental Health Consequences of War: A Brief Review of Research Findings,” World Psychiatry 5, no. 1 (2006), 25–30; Hanna Kienzler, “Debating War-Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in an Interdisciplinary Arena,” Social Science & Medicine 67, no. 2 (July 2008), 218–227; Karni Ginzburg, Tsachi Ein-Dor, and Zahava Solomon, “Comorbidity of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Depression: A 20-Year Longitudinal Study of War Veterans,” Journal of Affective Disorders 123, no. 1 (June 2010), 249–257; Alexander C. McFarlane, “The Impact of War on Mental Health: Lest We Forget,” World Psychiatry 14, no. 3 (2015), 351–353.
16 Martin Gilbert, The First World War: A Complete History (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1994), xv. Gilbert, in particular, traces narratives of individual suffering through this comprehensive volume.
17 Cf. Christopher C.H. Cook and Nathan H. White, “Resilience and the Role of Spirituality,” in The Oxford Textbook of Public Mental Health, ed. Dinesh Bhugra et al. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 513–520.
18 Here, too, we may learn from the past. Charles McMoran Wilson (Lord Moran), who served as the personal physician to Sir Winston Churchill, previously was a battalion surgeon for British forces in World War I. He later wrote regarding his experiences, “In those early days of the first German War we—the Company officers and I—did not bother about men’s minds; we did what we could for their bodies. We did not ask whether a man was wearing well or if he would last. Of course he would last, why shouldn’t he? Months later after the corrosion of nearly a year in the Ypres salient I was less certain . . . [men] were wearing badly under stress.” Lord Moran, The Anatomy of Courage (London: Constable, 1945), 3. Lord Moran continues to explain the profound effect that internal dispositions, such as courage, had on the well-being of the soldiers under his care. See also Edgar Jones, “Doctors and Trauma in the First World War: The Response of British Military Psychiatrists,” in The Memory of Catastrophe, ed. Peter Gray and K. Oliver (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), 91–105; and T.W. Salmon, “Some Problems of Disabled Ex-Service Men Three Years after the Armistice,” Mental Hygiene, vol. 6 (1922), 1–10. Despite the increased distance of human beings from the actual conduct of warfare, it seems that we cannot fully escape the effects of this conduct. One has only to look at evidence, anecdotal and empirical, of drone pilots to understand that distance does not erase the psychological impact of killing another human being. Even with autonomous weapons systems, a human being is involved at some point in the decision matrix, necessarily involving an ethical assessment of warfare. When a target is nonhuman (as in an enemy computer system), the effects of waging war against such an enemy (even to the second and third order) are effects on human beings.
19 This change could even be characterized in terms similar to Thomas Kuhn’s model of paradigm shifts within the history of science. Cf. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962).
20 Some, indeed, have argued for the possibility of the future autonomy of artificial intelligence—a phenomenon often termed the singularity. This is a possibility that I do not seriously consider here, though it has been explored in various media. See “Artificial Intelligence Poses Questions for Nature of War: Mattis,” Phys.org, February 18, 2018, available at <https://phys.org/news/2018-02-artificial-intelligence-poses-nature-war.html>. In this volume, see especially contributions by Patterson, Fairclough, and Totten.
21 Randall Thomas Davidson, “The Armistice,” in The Testing of a Nation (London: MacMillan, 1919), 156. Note also Archbishop Davidson’s comments at a memorial service for the fallen, held at Westminster Abbey on May 24, 1919: “Our solemn service to-day has no parallel or close precedent in the history of the world. For we are commemorating before God something which never happened until now among the sons of men. Many times there have been great wars. Many times has the world witnessed splendid fellowship and heroic devotion unto death. But now, now only, has there come to pass what you and I have seen” (211). McNeill comments regarding the paradigm-shattering experience of World War I for many, “Those who experienced the war were quite unable to fit what happened into any pattern of prior experience. Their initial intoxication with dreams of glory curdled into horror and a sense of helpless entrapment as the slaughter of the trenches persisted month after month,” McNeill, The Pursuit of Power, 308.
22 Nigel C. Hunt, Memory, War and Trauma (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Hunt helpfully suggests ways of healing from societal war trauma through collective remembrance and memorialization. In the same vein, McNeill argues that “[i]t is . . . no longer practicable to treat World War I as an unparalled [sic] catastrophe interrupting the ordinary course of historical development. If nothing else, World War II proved that the Great War was not unique.” See McNeill, The Pursuit of Power, 308.
23 McNeill, The Pursuit of Power, 386–387.
24 This was also the guiding principle that motivated the American founders: “In 1776, American leaders believed that it was not enough to win the war. They also had to win in a way that was consistent with the values of their society and the principles of their cause. . . . American leaders resolved that the War of Independence would be conducted with a respect for human rights, even of the enemy.” See David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 375–376.