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September 18, 2023

Rules of warfare

By Patricia Saunders

Rules of warfare

Humans can justify wars
whether moral or religious,
whether between cousins or enemies,
whether between states that used to be friends
or states that descend into rivals.

Wars have ethical limits
or the absence of all limits.
In the past, a long time ago,
millennia ago,
in the great epics,
princes fought with princes,
generals with generals,
captains with captains,
and no-one was killed while running away.
Now warfare is guided by missiles
that are guided by computers
that are designed by programmers,
and soldiers fight with metal
and everyone is killed while running away
because missiles are not interested
in preserving people or horses.

Philosophers propose a set of rules
that commanders agree and then ignore
when the conflict takes a direction
not expected, and new rules are thrown together
but not in time, so all rules are removed
for each side must win.
Thus, tactics are deceitful
and weapons used that
have no moral intent other than death.
Death is then considered a moral intent
because it removes an enemy
if the enemy is winning.

Certain actions in war
are mostly approved,
but this depends on philosophy
because what is honorable to one side
may not be honorable to the other.
But both sides would agree
that personal interests
are always honorable,
that trade must be preserved,
and mistakes overlooked
until someone discovers them
and then they are condemned.
It is also known that fanatics
cannot adopt just rules of war
if they’re convinced they’re right
and everyone else is immoral.
Thus, rules of warfare only work
when everybody is winning,
when commanders and fanatics
are at peace, and war is obsolete.

Article © Patricia Saunders. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-04-24
Image(s) are public domain.
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