Fighting Evil?

There are things we recognize as indisputably evil – for example, slavery, the Holocaust. And there have been wars fought whose outcome resulted in the end of these evils – the American Civil War, World War II. So those were good wars, right? Right?

Well…

I’m not saying they weren’t. But, it strikes me as odd that, while both of those wars resulting in the end of an evil, they were not entered into for that purpose. The American Civil War began as a question of states’ rights versus preserving the Union, not as a question of slavery. WWII wasn’t about saving the Jews, it was about stopping Hitler from taking over Europe.

Another example people might not like – the Iraq War’s stated purpose was to remove Saddam Hussein from power so he was no longer a threat to the US. Saddam was also a horrible dictator who slaughtered tens of thousands of people. Why is it that we had to present the war as stopping a threat to us (which it turns out Saddam wasn’t, really) rather than as stopping something that was indisputably evil?

I don’t know the answer to this. Perhaps it’s an imaginary problem.

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3 Responses to Fighting Evil?

  1. e7th04sh says:

    A small remark, altough it’s disputable, i would stick with the general idea of Hitler’s starting the war, not vice versa.

    Pilsudski, polish more-or-less dictator from 1926 had a plan of anti-nazi agression, once Hitler seized the power… but western politicians wanted peace, and instead only signed military alliance with Poland. Alliance, which they (France and GB) ignored in September 1939… So generally western politicians weren’t planning any war against Hitler, neither to destroy him as a threat, nor as evil.

  2. e7th04sh says:

    “Why is it that we had to present the war as stopping a threat to us rather than as stopping something that was indisputably evil?”

    Answer is very simple – because wars, like everything, have public relations. I am pretty convinced that USA started the war because Saddam Hussein changed dollar to euro in petrotrade. This was actual threat to the USA, because your country “exports money” and inflates that cash, and this in effect produces real value income for you. I am being USA taxpayer this way… (Or more like my parents are. :P) Altough i myself have no stable knowledge of politics, i’ve read and thought a lot, and this theory seems most convincing to me.

    Instead of invading entire country, USA could rather make intense attempts to assasinate it’s leader, couldn’t it? This should be enough to bring Iraq back to trading oil in dollars. But the war, in my humble opinion, is meant to be an example and warning to all other states in area and world too, perhaps: don’t mess with United States.

  3. I don’t know if that was the primary reason for the attack (it’s possible, but I find it more plausible that it was a powerful secondary motivation), but you’re right, the public relations of warfare are something I didn’t take into account in my original post.

    But then, my question just shifts to, why is it that the public itself doesn’t demand wars to stop something undisputably evil (or at least demand that its wars be presented that way)?

    The answer to the assassination question, I believe, is that there’s a strong institutional bias against assassination – I read something recently about a theoretical CIA plan to assassinate (IIRC) Saddam, and the Democratic Congress got fairly angry about it. I don’t understand it myself – why is war OK but assassination not? – but the belief seems to be prevalent that assassination is simply not an ethical alternative.

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