Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Principle of Utility" Justifies Offensive Nuclear Attack

Editorial Opinion by Dr. J. P. Hubert

If anyone requires further evidence that rank Utilitarianism has become the prevailing ethic in the developed West--look no further. In a paper prepared for the Nato summit in April by five top military leaders the following recommendation is made: “The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.” see HERE...

Talk about moral relativism. Where is the evidence that these men understand the principle of universality which is part and parcel of every legitimate moral philosophy? What about the categorical imperative of Kant--only do those acts which you would be willing to see universalized? Where is the assurance that these military experts understand the first and second principles of the Natural Law; do good/avoid evil and treat your neighbor fairly? What possible moral philosophy could these individuals have employed other than the principle of utility as applied under a Utilitarian construct? Apparently for them virtually any "means" whether inherently immoral or not can be applied in the pursuit of an identified "end."

The first use of nuclear weapons is an immoral means for the accomplishment of any conceivable end since it involves purposely targeting innocent human beings--non-combatants. This makes it immoral under Just War Doctrinal principles period as well as under international Law (waging "Total War" is a war crime). Under traditional (golden-rule ethic) Aristotelian/Thomistic moral philosophical precepts, one must never intentionally kill the innocent. Offensively detonating a nuclear bomb under any and all circumstances, tactical or strategic involves choosing to intentionally kill the innocent (the object rationally chosen or "means") and it is gravely immoral.

In fact it is highly dubious whether one could ever detonate a nuclear bomb in a defensive capacity either, due to the predictable (and thus intentional) nature involved in the killing of innocents. Such an eventuality could not be termed unintended in the sense of "collateral" damage which refers only to those inadvertent and unintended deaths of non-combatant civilians in time of war which are unforseeable. If large loss of civilian life is virtually certain (that is, one possesses moral certitude), the planned military maneuver is clearly immmoral.

I include the following additional analysis which was posted previously as a NOTE on this topic see THIS...

Having personally lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis it is inconceivable to me that supposedly intelligent military leaders could recommend the use of offensive nuclear weapons in an attempt to prevent further nuclear proliferation and other weapons of mass destruction. There are several insurmountable problems with their analysis.

First, it is not true that "there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world" as the 5 author's have maintained. The original nuclear weapons state (NWS's) nations (China, USSR [now Russia], France, United States and Great Britain) which signed the NPT have through lack of leadership and good will failed to meet their treaty obligations to progressively disarm their nuclear arsenals. Yet, they continue to insist that non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS's) countries must not attempt to develop them. NNWS nations legitimately wonder why they should be held to their NPT obligation not to develop nuclear weapons when the original 5 NWS's refuse to abide by theirs.

The NWS's by some unknown "right" (perhaps might makes right) also insist that those NNWS countries which did not sign the NPT must also refrain from doing so. This is rank hypocrisy of the worst sort. Moreover it is clear that some NWS's have further violated their NPT related obligations by assisting other nations who were not part of the original NWS's to obtain them including Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea. Obviously, the original NWS's have made no realistic attempt to either progressively disarm (certainly not in the past 20 years) or to otherwise abide by their NPT stipulated agreement not to provide nuclear weapons technology to NNWS nations.

Second the 5 military authors who produced the latest radical manifesto have also committed a grievous error in logic. It is contradictory (violates the law of non-contradiction) in the extreme to purport that the best way to prevent an actual phenomenon from occurring is to in fact make it occur. Nuclear weapons proliferation is held to be disadvantageous because it is thought to increase the risk (likelihood) that nuclear weapons will be utilized; particularly offensively--a universally recognized and abhorrent historical reality based upon their first use by the United States against the Japanese. If that were not the case there would be no morally legitimate reason to limit proliferation.

Third, many nations already have nuclear weapons which are associated with some finite risk of use albeit perhaps incalculable quantitatively. Should nuclear weapons be used to stop a nation state from developing them, what does this say? It indicates that the use of nuclear weapons in an offensive manner is justifiable under some circumstances. Not only does it violate Just War Doctrinal principles it makes legitimate that which it is attempting to make illegitimate--the use of offensive nuclear weapons--whether by a nation state or a terrorist organization. Put another way, it says "do what we say not what we do simply because we say so." Those NNWS can legitimately reply, "you are hypocritical in the extreme. Why should you be the only ones to have nuclear weapons--you aren't even willing to disarm the huge arsenals you already have and agreed to reduce and yet you insist that we cannot even have one? How unjust of you."

Perhaps even more troubling to me is the idea that so many human beings including the top tier candidates for President in both US political parties are willing to consider the use of nuclear weapons offensively. This is a most disturbing development. It demonstrates that the so-called Bush doctrine of preventive war has become normalized despite its being completely incompatible with international law, Just War Doctrinal principles and traditional moral precepts.

Too many people seem to have lost sight of just how truly awful it is to detonate even one nuclear weapon. I suggest that everyone read or re-read the accounts of those who documented the carnage and human suffering after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings. The genetic and medical complications alone are still being felt to this day. The deleterious effects of radioactive fallout and possible complete fouling of the earth's atmosphere/environment were these hideous weapons to be utilized demands that they never be used again. There is no guarantee that--should even one tactical nuclear warhead be detonated--it would not result in WWIII. The resulting nuclear Armageddon and nuclear Winter would be capable of destroying all life on earth.