It is nearly a universally accepted truth that, under normal circumstances, to commit murder is absolutely wrong, yet at the same time, to wage war is still a significant part of practically every culture on Earth. How can these 2 facts be reconciled?
In order for the two to become compatible and consistent we must come up with circumstances to rationalize it like, in self defense, or killing a few now will save many more in the future.
For myself it comes down to:
The act of my killing someone or someone killing me are both morally reprehensible. However, between the two I cannot conceive of an act more heinous than letting them go first.
Here is what a few others had to say: Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. ~Ernest Hemingway
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. ~Voltaire
Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country. ~attributed to Bertrand Russell
I spent two years in Vietnam as an Infantry officer. War was my profession, but I don't believe in war to accomplish unworthy objectives (a whole other line of thought). Many, then and now, did not believe the Vietnam War was justified; I did because I did not accept the idea of conquering people in the name of Communism. As it turned out, we did not prevent the conquest of Southeast Asia, but ironically they have come to embrace capitalism--go figure.
Wars in the name of religion are the world's greatest evils.
Armand, My Dad also believed that the Viet Nam war was justified. He was there as an information officer that was in the heat of battle and wrote back to the Pentegon what he saw. He spent two tours in VietNam and one in Thailand. He hasn't been around for 19 years. There's so much I'd like to ask him.
The core value of manliness is facing life and the problems that arise in it in a mature, decisive, and courageous way- to do what it takes to preserve yourself, your family, and your way of life. To accomplish this, real men often have to abide by the mantra, "You don't have to like, it just have to do it." We don't have to like going to that ballet show with our wives when we aren't in the mood to get dressed up on a Saturday night, but just have to suck it up and pretend we like it because the wife is excited about going and it'll make her happy. Same thing with taking life in combat- you don't have to like it, you just have to do it. Whether you agree with the reasons for the war or not, you are a citizen of this country and you have a duty to serve your turn when it calls. Killing in combat is not a moral issue. You do it because you have to, which brings me to my final point.
You can construct any moral code you want to, but keep this in mind. The ultimate law in life is the Law of the Jungle- the strong survive. We may be a civilized species, but the Law of the Jungle still applies. If you don't think so, go for a camping trip out on the Serengeti or in Siberia for a few months with nothing but the clothes on your back. There are plenty of animals that live in those places, but guess what- chances are you will die.
If your moral code conflicts with the Law of the Jungle- that is, if you are not willing to kill in combat, or out of combat if necessary, then you are not willing to to what is necessary to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and your way of life. You are not strong enough to survive. You are a victim. Your loved ones are victims because you cannot defend them. What kind of man puts his family or country at risk because he's constructed a faulty code of ethics. Sure, you believe in your code, but should you?
Bottom line, you don't have to enjoy doing it, but if a situation arises in which taking another humans life is necessary- whether in combat serving your country or in your own home to protect your family- then you'd better do it. If you can't, or won't, go ahead and punch your man card. Personally, I'd do it in a heartbeat and wouldn't think twice. My family and country come before any so-called moral obligation pushed on me by liberal yahoos.
Funny that people philosophise about this question -- and it's been hotting up since the advent of automatic weapons, and the media which brings wars into people's living rooms on the 6 o'clock news.
My only thought is, with a hostile army bearing down on your home (be that homeland, home town or just home building) your values suddenly get very clear and all the philosophy gets blown to bits. War -- right or wrong? Uhhh, just shoot first and answer the question later, before my kids get taken hostage.
It's the kind of question that can only be answered in the safety and comfort of a peaceful society (militarily speaking) ... and becomes irrelevant as soon as the first bozo squeezes the trigger and the second bozo retaliates.
Which is another way to say, a murder is something that goes against society, and threatens those within it. (Which is also why most allow for killing in defense.) Killing in war, does in the name, or in defense of that society. It is not condemned because it is asked by that society.
The only thing I can add, is that I did an incomplete word study in the scriptures. I was on a quest to understand God's commands to the children of Israel to annihilate the peoples in the land of Canaan. Our English has very few words for "to kill", but the Hebrew is quite different. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" of the Ten Commandments would more appropriately translate "You shall not murder." War then becomes a completely different matter and totally separate from the Ten Commandments. That's as far as I've gotten in my word study for what it's worth to y'all.
"When people ask, as they sometimes do, if there was anything I would change with my life, I never say but the experience of physical ageing is something I would not mind arresting without resort to surgery or a punishing diet and exercise regime…"