Articles

Follow the links to my online articles at MercatorNet, Eureka Street, and a couple more:

ABC Religion and Ethics

MercatorNet online magazine 

 

Eureka Street online magazine

First Things website

ABC’s The Drum website

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2 thoughts on “Articles

  1. Hi, Zac,

    In the era of total war the distinction between combatants and non-combatants no longer applies. This is a hard truth but true nonetheless. Previously armies , while centrally supplied in part, lived mainly off the land, commandeering their needs from the enemy civilian population.Preserving the enemy civilian population actually served the interest of the invading force. For a variety of reasons this approach to war gradually lost its rationale and was abandoned. With World War II it became crystal clear that unless the economy and the morale of
    the enemy was destroyed by attacking its civilian population, the war would likely be lost or, at the very least, intolerably prolonged. All belligerents recognized this truth; all acted upon it. So the choice was between necessary evils: attack the enemy’s civilian population or risk losing the war. Rational, prudent men chose the former. Indeed, as a practical and yes, a moral matter, no other choice was possible.

    • Hi Frank,
      We might have to agree to disagree.
      Firstly, the USSBS argued soon after the war that bombing the railways and other transport infrastructure would have more efficiently strangled the Japanese economy than bombing cities and industry directly. While it is true that they say this with the benefit of hindsight, it is likewise only with benefit of hindsight that anyone can claim the bombing of civilians helped to shorten the war. Is it not said, after all, that the Blitz failed to break British morale?

      Secondly, I do not think total war changes the Just War principle of distinction whatsoever. The principle of distinction has always allowed for the possibility of civilian casualties, such as when civilians are inadvertently killed and injured in the bombing of an arms factory. But there must at least be an effort and an intention to minimise civilian casualties. Unfortunately in WWII we see that nearly all the major powers on both sides took part in the direct killing of civilians for the sake – or even just the hope – of military expediency. They could not, after all, guarantee that their methods would shorten the war. In fact, German arms production increased during the bombings, thanks to the efforts of Albert Speer.

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