Ethical Challenges of the War in Afghanistan

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Ethics Paper

Ethical Challenges of the War in Afghanistan

After ten years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, military leaders still face significant ethical challenges. Because of the challenges associated with waging an unconventional war, military practices and preparations have not evolved to provide sufficient ethical training for personnel in Afghanistan and Iraqi. This essay explores ethical questions that remain unresolved even after a war that has been prosecuted for more than a decade.

Unresolved Ethical Issues

Many ethical issues related to warfare, conventional and otherwise, have never been resolved. For example, there is a widely held belief that all people have a basic, prima facie right not to be killed. Even so, and this belief is by no means universally held, that right to not be killed may be forfeited when someone willfully threatens the lives of innocent people. Or, put another way, Soldiers and police are empowered to kill those who threaten the lives of innocent people. It logically follows then that when such killing can be justified, nations and societies may proactively train and equip these professional warriors who are prepared to defend them with force. These assumptions create the basis for the just war theory, (Perry, 2004), a doctrine of military ethics that have been used to analyze the war in Afghanistan.

However just a war may be judged, there are moral risks that are an essential part of training officers and Soldiers “to be effective killers” (Perry, 2004) that create a moral dilemma. It is a given that discipline in obeying orders is required to develop Soldiers to be effective in pursuit of military objectives; but what if Soldiers are ordered to do something immoral, such as sh...

... middle of paper ... of military robots, pose additional ethical challenges. Given the nature of the wars being fought and the technology involved, the ethical questions can only become even more complex over time.

Works Cited

Lucas, G.R. (2008). ‘This is not your father’s war’ Confronting the moral challenges of ‘unconventional war.’ Journal of National Security Law & Policy (3)33, 331-342. Retrieved November 11, 2011 from:

Perry, D.L. (2004). Ethical issues in recent U.S. military engagements. Retrieved November 11, 2011 from:

Singer, P.W. (2009). Military robots and the laws of war. The New Atlantis, 23, Winter, 27-47. Retrieved November 11, 2011 from:
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