The recent massacre in Afghanistan should not be seen as an aberration. It is time to realize that modern war is too terrible to be justified by any traditional philosophic argument for a just war. I will list five reasons why modern war has become too horrific to solve our problems, if it ever did.
National boundaries are now too unclear. Modern geopolitics are so complicated, that we can no longer think in the simple terms of friends and enemies. As Pakistan has demonstrated, the same nation can be friend or enemy depending on the situation.
Our own interests are too conflicted. At this point, industry and war are too intertwined to discern our own motives.
Our Weapons are too terrible. No ancient philosopher could have imagined weapons that cause birth defects lifetimes after their usage. Depleted uranium and cluster bombs are such terrible weapons that many more innocent lives are affected than are intended targets.
Modern urban war is so traumatic that human beings simply can’t cope. The danger is too close. You can’t tell who the enemy is. You must make rapid decisions. You have at your command a power you barely understand. It’s not a question of “a few bad apples” making good soldiers look bad. Most people have a breaking point and if they are holding a weapon when they do, it will be hell for someone.
We are too ignorant of the rest of the world. Americans are so isolated and insulated from the rest of the world that our interventions into the affairs of others are inevitably ham-handed. If we don’t care enough about the rest of the world to learn their languages or even their stories, we don’t care enough to save them from the dangers we imagine them facing.