The nature of war

Worldview Item of the Day

Former United States Marine Jose Luis Nazario Jr. is under indictment in a federal court in the first attempted civilian prosecution of a former US military member for actions purported to have been committed while he was on active duty in a war zone.

This is a troubling development in the ongoing blurring of the line between the actions of a military called upon by its government and, ultimately, its people to engage in combat actions and the civilian sensibilities of the government and people who are not willing to undertake those combat actions themselves. Basically put, the government and the people are trying to apply the ideas of peace to war, and such application will never work.

As quoted from the linked article:

“From a legal point of view, there is no difference in law between war and peace,” [Scott Silliman, a law professor and executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University,] said.

If there is no difference in the law between war and peace, then there is no defense for the actions of most military combatants. Warfare is the government sanctioned killing of an enemy. While most civilians want to believe that there is some kind of rule that should apply to war, kill or be killed is the only rule that actually functions.

Certainly, brutality is troubling, but how is brutality any more troubling than the killing of an enemy in the first place? To try to culturize warfare is to ignore its nature and render those who are called upon to engage in it impotent in the face of enemies not bound by the same notions.

This is not to say that military forces should be given a free hand to engage in wonton slaughter. Civilians should be protected as much as is possible, and prisoners who have been removed from the fight should be treated in accordance with the ideals of international law.

However, in the heat of battle, combatants under combat conditions must make decisions that will often appear to civilians as brutal and unjustified. That appearance is because the laws of war are inherently different from the laws of peace. If crimes are committed in war, and they sometimes are, it should be up to the combatants who understand the difference between war and peace to make such judgments, not civilians who inherently do not understand the law of war.

Unfortunately, this move to prosecute former military members as civilians represents the further demonizing of the constitutional profession of the warfighter. When a people refuses to accept that its warriors must act on their behalf in ways the people cannot, how can that people hope to defend themselves? Without defense, how can the people of the United States of American hope to preserve their republican democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic?

The United States is setting foot on a slippery slope with this indictment. The fate of the nation may be bound up in its conclusion.


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2 Responses to The nature of war

  1. keba says:

    Shouldn’t this be handled by the Marines in a military court? It almost seems like double jeopardy – tried in a military, as well as a civilian court.

  2. dlhitzeman says:

    That’s the thing. It was never tried in a military court, so now the feds think it is in their jurisdiction.

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