Saturday, 04 September 2010 12:12

Hellish Nature of War

“It is also reasonable to show some sort of imprisonment by another, how to show something that actually does not exist by something else that exists.” – Daniel Defoe.

Even if the hell described in the sacred literature does not exist, it unveils itself during the war. When we are dealing with the war it seems that no matter what the goal is,what is its reason (ius ad bellum), no matter what measures are used for its conduct (ius in bello), once the war is initiated, the war resembles hell. But what allows us to make such a comparison? Is there anything that lets us call war “hell on earth”?

At the outset of the essay I present theological concepts of Hell and dwell upon the hellish nature of war; subsequently I attempt to draw parallels between the two. [1] Next, I focus on war crimes carried out by soldiers who pushed into “hell”, catch “the bug” of evil-doing, and by doing so they increase the evil of war, turning the victim into an executioner. Moreover, I consider who carries the blame for the crimes committed, and therefore, who is morally responsible for this "hell"- soldiers or their commanders. After discussing it, I concentrate on the infernal logic of war, which is a “constant urge to moral extremes”. At the end of the essay I ask whether "hell" of war can be avoided. I would like to point out that my analysis is only a brief discussion of the above-mentioned issues, as a more thorough study would require significantly more space than the essay provides.

 In my analysis I rely primarily on the book, Just and Unjust Wars, written by the theorist of Traditional Just War Theory, Michael Walzer. I also draw upon the Millennium Bible passages and the edition of “the British and Foreign Bible Society”; fragments of Diaries of St. Faustina Kowalska and the Book of predictions written by Sister Lucy of Fatima are among the theological sources I consider.I refer to articles in the national press, Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita also to the article of Jeff McMahan entitled “The Ethics of Killing in War”, as well to the work of Carl von Clausewitz, On War.

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