Morality: The Hard Line Between Revolutionary and Terrorist

In a war, it appears that it’s easy to become just as bad as the monsters that you are fighting.

Just ask the survivors of a killing spree in Afghanistan last March, when US soldiers went on a rampage, killing 17 civilians, 9 of them children. Only one soldier, Army Staff Sgt Robert Bales, was charged but the witnesses have a different story:

On mother-of-six, whose husband was killed during the incident, believes there were as many as 20 people involved.

She told SBS Dateline journalist Yalda Hakim: ‘When they shot dead my husband, I tried to drag him into the house, they’d shot him in the head so his brain was all over my hands. I had to use a bowl for his blood.

‘I saw more than 20 people when I looked out the house. The Americans pointed their guns at me and threatened me, telling me not to leave the house or they’d kill me.’

Another witness, an eight-year-old girl called Noorbinak, said a gunman shot her family’s dog before shooting her father in the foot and dragging her mother by the hair. When her father screamed, he was shot dead, before the gunman shot Noorbinak in the leg.

She said: ‘One man entered the room and the others were standing in the yard, holding lights.’

The brother of another victim claimed that his nephews and nieces saw numerous soldiers involved in the assault, all wearing headlamps and with lights strapped to the ends of their guns.

He said: ‘They don’t know whether there were 15 or 20, however many there were.’ (Source)
If it seems somehow more acceptable that this happened across the world in a 3rd world country with whom we were at war, then how about an example closer to home?

The law-abiding, legal gun owners of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, would also bear witness to the savagery of which those in uniform are capable.
Few Americans realize that on February 28, 1993 when Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) agents in National Guard helicopters zoomed in on the Branch Davidians’ church and home, Mount Carmel Center, they did so with guns blazing, like Americans raiding a Vietnamese village in that far off war….These agents shot wildly and threw grenades at the building for more than an hour, even as Davidians called 911 to beg for a ceasefire….For weeks the FBI sabotaged negotiations through lies, threats and insults, destruction of property, shining of bright lights, blaring of loud music and violent sounds, and terrifying helicopter overflights and fake tank rammings….Their goal was to destroy the building and its damaging evidence, even if that meant the massacre of dozens of men, women and children, all witnesses to the brutal attack….On April 19, 1993, the FBI used its tanks systematically to turn Mount Carmel into a lethal fire trap. Tanks collapsed the trap door leading to the underground tornado shelter and all three staircases. Tanks rammed a concrete room sheltering dozens of Davidians until the ceiling collapsed, killing women and children before the fire. Long booms saturated the building with flammable gas, probably mixed with flammable solvents…Attorney General Janet Reno and the Justice Department were not content with murdering 82 Davidians, 61 of them women and children. They were intent upon prosecuting and punishing the few survivors whose “crime” was defending themselves against an unprovoked paramilitary assault. (Source)

It’s very clear that hostility is boiling up in America right now.  The lines of battle are being drawn. On the one side, there are Patriots who are enraged at the systematic desecration of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. On the other are those who are shredding those same documents, legislation by legislation. The fight is on between liberty and tyranny.

As emotions run high, so do the comments on different forums and websites. People are buckling on their theoretical swords because the battle is near.

But when that battle comes, what will these people do?  How will people behave in the heat of battle?  Will they maintain their ethics and remember that the fight is against evil or will they fight fire with fire?  Will those on the side of freedom become as monstrous and tyrannical as the people they are fighting against?

Wherefore the greater care must be taken to temper it with humanity, lest by too much imitating beasts we absolutely forget the man.
- Hugo Grotus, Morality of War

If we become the same inhumane monsters as those who would oppress us, what, then, is the point?  If you behave dishonorably, then how can you consider yourself morally superior to those upon whom you are waging war?  There is a line between war and terrorism.No matter what your initial intentions and motivations, once you cross that line, you are just as evil as those you purport to defeat.

To quote my good friend, American freeman patriot, N.O., “We just can’t afford to become animals in such circumstances.  We all, for the sake of our own moral survival and our communities’ moral survival, must step up and become the law of the land, and stand by it .”

If people are fighting for freedom from a perspective of morals, then rules of engagement must apply.  Mercy must be present.  Warriors must be people of honor and control.  The Geneva Convention, ratified in 1949, is very clear on these concepts:

  • Non-combatants must not be targeted for violence or attacks on their personal dignity.
  • Extensive destruction or appropriation of property should not occur in a wanton fashion.
This means that innocent lives should be spared. This means that the widespread destruction of homes, the pillaging of private property and the razing of the countryside – these actions are out of bounds. It doesn’t matter who the innocents are related to. It doesn’t matter who the innocents voted for, whether they are a different race or whether they swipe an EBT card to pay for their groceries. Non-combatants should be spared and should absolutely never be directly targeted by any soldier on either side.

The victims of war have changed over the past 100 years.
  • At the beginning of the twentieth century only 10%-15% of those who died in war were civilians.
  • In World War 2 more than 50% of those who died were civilians.
  • By the end of the century over 75% of those killed in war were civilians. (Source)
Whether or not the other side adheres to the principles of war should not play in to one’s own ethical decisions.  The concept of total war is unnecessary, immoral, and a step into the abyss of evil. (Total war is defined by Google as “A war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, esp. one in which the laws of war are disregarded.“)
Those who would lead must lead by example.  They must seriously consider their moral compasses and then direct their followers accordingly.
The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline;
thus it is in his power to control success.  
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
If being on the high road and side of goodness aren’t enough to convince people that their actions should be above reproach, then consider the importance of public opinion.

Wars are won and lost on the tide of public opinion.  No one will fight more viciously than  an opponent whose innocent family has been slaughtered. No one will be more determined than a person protecting home and loved ones. Committing acts of evil gives the impetus of righteous anger to who were victims of the atrocities.

In a letter on this topic, N.O. wrote,

We all need to take the high road on this or we will fail in our efforts.  Public opinion will win or lose you the war.   We must protect their lives even more so than our own women and children .  Why? … because eventually the war will end and the more brutal we are the more they will fight us to the death; the more our own women and children will suffer and die.  WE MUST STAY ON THE HIGH ROAD.
Behaviors like targeting non-combatants makes the force that commits such acts the “bad guys”.  It doesn’t matter what they began by defending or fighting for – committing evil means that you are evil.  People will fear you and they will not support or aid you willingly.  You become someone to fight against, not for. N.O. explained this from a strategic standpoint.
If you start killing, abusing and defiling the non-combatant innocent women and children on either side of the conflict …  you will lose the support of the non-combatant public at large ! You will lose your access to local supplies, intel, clean water, food, and will soon be fighting not only a government army (who are now more determined to fight you to the death to protect their own women and children), but also fighting against the local guerrillas, who are fighting you just to protect their women and children from you and your men.  They will stand their ground and fight with a vengeance to their death or yours.
More compelling than even this is the thought that patriots are the people who hope to rebuild an ethical, moral society.  How can people behave as animals and expect to create a good, pure and just society?  Remember what you are fighting for and behave accordingly, for the result you get will be the one you earn through your actions.

In conclusion, no matter which side of the argument you come down on, the justifications of

“Following orders”
“They did it first”
“God told Moses to kill every man, woman and child in Canaan”
“It was war”
“I’m a soldier”

are never enough to defend the commission of immoral acts, especially against the innocents. A uniform is not a exemption for decency and being “right” is not a dispensation of accountability. It isn’t the uniform who makes the man, but the man who makes the uniform.
I am not a soldier, but I believe in defending what is right, good and innocent, regardless of politics, war, nationality and “sides”.  I believe in God, liberty, and honor and I refuse to be dissuaded from my intention to live by those standards.

I believe that the real enemy has no specific face – it is one that attacks from within us all.  The enemy that all of us must resist is the temptation to do evil during terrible times. We will create the law of the land. The surest way to end up with a Mad Max world is to become as vicious and ruthless as those against whom we would rebel.

 Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Article Source: Activistpost