Feb. 3, 2020

3. The Ethics of Nationalism

We are observing the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I, a war that has been blamed to a large degree on the passions of nationalism. Today we see a debate over the virtues of nationalism vis-à-vis a growth in the importance of supranational institutions and more global governance that is strikingly similar in many ways to that which occurred in the aftermath of the war. The Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump, and the surge of what has been referred to in a pejorative manner as “populist” and “nationalist” movements throughout the West are only the opening salvos of what I am convinced will be a mammoth struggle over ideas regarding national identity versus cosmopolitanism, more local national governments versus transnational governmental institutions, and so forth, and the impact that these ideas will have on the shape of the future international order.

Feb. 3, 2020

2. Grim Virtue: Decisiveness as an Implication of the Just War Tradition

So proclaims J.R.R. Tolkien’s Faramir, second son of Denethor, brother of Boromir, captain of the rangers of Ithilien, and later captain of the white tower when his brother falls. Faramir makes this assertion in a moment of great peril, in the midst of conflict, when he is given an opportunity to do a terrible thing in order to bring about a great good. He does not do it, and his proclamation, above, as to why he does not provides a tidy summary of the core of the just war framework, which could be rendered thus: Wars may be justly fought only in the last resort and for the aim of peace, when a sovereign authority—over whom there is no one greater charged with the care of the political community—determines that nothing else will properly retribute a sufficiently grave evil, take back what has been wrongly taken, or protect the innocent. In such cases, and only such, force may be rightly deployed to restore justice, order, and peace.

Feb. 3, 2020

1. What Should Military Ethics Learn from World War I? A Christian Assessment

The Somme has become a byword for disproportionate military slaughter, caused by criminally stupid and callous generals in the prosecution of a senseless, futile war. This narrative began to take root in Great Britain when I was a teenager in the 1960s and against the background of widespread opposition to America’s war in Vietnam. Although now under challenge from professional historians, it remains a common view and received something of a boost 5 years ago with the publication of Christopher Clark’s widely celebrated The Sleepwalkers. Clark concludes his account of the outbreak and escalation of World War I thus: “There is no smoking gun in this story; or, rather, there is one in the hand of every major character. . . . The outbreak of war was a tragedy, not a crime.” “The crisis that brought war in 1914,” he tells us, “was the fruit of a shared political culture,” which rendered Europe’s leaders “sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing, haunted by dreams, yet blind to the reality of the horror they were about to bring into the world.”

Feb. 3, 2020

Introduction

The profession of arms in the 21st century is at significant risk of losing its status as a profession due to several salient factors. Because of the rapid development of technology in relation to warfare, for instance, there are growing questions as to how much control human beings will retain of future combat, particularly given the speed of decisionmaking required for victory on the modern battlefield. As well, with the rise of new geopolitical and military coalitions, many are concerned as to how much war will remain an act of and in accordance with the political interests, values, and histories of individual nation-states, especially considering the thornier problem of developing the same for coalitions or allied forces. Furthermore, amid an increase in value-neutral societies (and the concomitant lack of personal moral formation of individual citizens), it may rightly be asked whether values-based institutions such as professional militaries can be adequately shaped to reflect any coherent national ethical consensus.

Feb. 3, 2020

Acknowledgments

The completion of this work stands on the efforts of many tireless professionals, all of whom are deserving of tremendous thanks. First, the staff officers and noncommissioned officers of both the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains and Royal Army Chaplains Department deserve mention, including Chaplain (Major General) Paul K. Hurley, USA, and Rev. Dr. (Chaplain General) David C. Coulter (co-hosts of the International Military Ethics Symposium 2018); Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Grace Hollis, USA; Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) “Bogie” Augustyn, USA; Rev. Father (Lieutenant Colonel) Pascal Hanrahan, Royal Army Chaplains’ Department (British Army); Sergeant First Class Jason Gaulke, USA (action officer); and from NCI, Inc., Ms. Alana Gates and Ms. Tina Mincks (logistical organizers).

Feb. 3, 2020

Preface

The Army’s professional ethic is built on the trust granted to our profession and the legal authorization to use violence in order to compel an adversary and to assert the Nation’s will. The military remains among the most trusted professions in America. Our continued ethical conduct is paramount to maintaining the respect that generations of Soldiers have forged.

Feb. 3, 2020

17. Toward a Resilient Military Ethic

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.

Feb. 3, 2020

16. The Proper Marking of Medical Personnel and Equipment: Lessons from the Great War

In April 1917, after repeated attempts at diplomacy aimed at keeping itself out of the conflict raging in Europe, the United States declared war against Imperial Germany and later its allies. The 65th Congress authorized and directed that the President “employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and . . . bring the conflict to a successful termination all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged.”1 Thus, the United States entered into the first world conflict in which Allied nations truly attempted to undertake a whole-of-government approach, with the aim of achieving unity of effort between its joint military forces, interagency communities, and intergovernmental entities. In addition, the Allied nations attempted to extend this coordination not only within their own governments but also among their Allies as well.

Feb. 3, 2020

A Persistent Fire: The Strategic Ethical Impact of World War I on the Global Profession of Arms

The profession of arms in the 21st century is at significant risk of losing its status as a profession due to several salient factors. Because of the rapid development of technology in relation to warfare, for instance, there are growing questions as to how much control human beings will retain of future combat, particularly given the speed of decisionmaking required for victory on the modern battlefield. As well, with the rise of new geopolitical and military coalitions, many are concerned as to how much war will remain an act of and in accordance with the political interests, values, and histories of individual nation-states, especially considering the thornier problem of developing the same for coalitions or allied forces. Furthermore, amid an increase in value-neutral societies (and the concomitant lack of personal moral formation of individual citizens), it may rightly be asked whether values-based institutions such as professional militaries can be adequately shaped to reflect any coherent national ethical consensus.

Feb. 3, 2020

15. Soldier Enhancement Ethics and the Lessons of World War I

World War I is sometimes described as either the last of the Napoleonic wars or the first of the modern ones. In truth, it was both. While it was largely fought by the kinds of mass formations perfected by Napoleon Bonaparte 100 years earlier, it was also characterized by innovations such as the tank, airplane, flamethrowers, poison gas, and hydrophones, to name only a few, that gave rise to what we now call “modern warfare.”