Hitchens on the War on Terror: Still Thinking Like A Marxist?

A little while ago I read something which suggested that there was a tactical element to Christopher Hitchens’ support of the War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq. Hitchens has made it abundantly plain that he loathed Saddam Hussein as a vicious dictator, and broke with the Left over their refusal to support Hussein’s overthrow. However, I’ve also seen it suggested that Hitchens has a rather more cynical, tactical reason for supporting the war. Hitchens is now known for his vehement hatred of religion, expressed in his book God is not Great. It’s been alleged that he supported the War on Terror from a belief that military action against militant, intolerant Islam would also lead to a wider groundswell of public opinion against religion in general, and so would usher in the age of atheist rationalism to which Hitchens is committed. There are quotes from Hitchens circulating to this effect.

Now I have to say that I don’t know whether this is actually true, but if it is, then it shows that Hitchens’ past as a member of the far Left is still influencing his thinking. Marx stated that ‘war is the forcing house of democracy’, and historically it has been the case that the experience of war has forged societal bonds that have led to a rise in radical politics. For example, in the aftermath of the two World Wars in the 20th Century various left-wing parties took power for the first time as they seemed to offer a genuine alternative to the more right-wing parties who had traditionally held power. Furthermore, the bonds of comradeship forged across class boundaries in Europe during the two Wars did much to undermine the European class system. Part of the reason the Fascist organisations after World War I adopted such a stridently military character was because the bonds of comradeship forged between the demobilised servicemen, who formed the backbone of European Fascism, had produced a populist spirit and powerful feeling of unity. These Fascist organisations sought to preserve social hierarchies – what Mussolini called ‘the eternal, beneficial and fruitful inequality of classes’ – while imbuing them with a quasi-democratic character their members found liberating.

On the Left, Marxist and other radical groups also had high expectations of the radicalising effects of the War. Instead of the democratic spirit created by communities under fire bolstering European hierarchical politics, some Marxists instead considered that the First World War would further alienate the European working classes. Rather than back their class oppressors, they would unite to overthrow them, taking the first step towards the global, classless Communism Marx had envisaged. In the wake of the First World War, central and eastern Europe did indeed suffer Marxist revolutions – in Russia, Germany, Hungary and also in Italy. The result was a wave of political unrest and counter-revolutionary violence, culminating in the rise of Fascist and Right-wing anti-democratic regimes in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and elsewhere as these organisations gained popularity by promising to protect their nations from the threat of Communism. In this instance, the Marxist hopes of the radicalising effects of the First World War upon the working class was profoundly misguided. Rather than leading to support for Communism, it led to an extreme conservatism instead as the ordinary people of these nations looked for protection and safety from the economic and political chaos that erupted in the wake of the War.

If Hitchens does believe that the War on Terror will lead to a general discrediting of religion and a rise in atheism, then it appears that he has taken up the attitude of the early 20th century Marxists towards the radicalising effects of global war. In Hitchens’ case, these hopes have been scaled down. He doesn’t expect the workers to unite against capitalism, only against religion. This seems part of a general trend amongst some radical intellectuals after the Fall of Communism. With the Marxist system a catastrophic failure and capitalism resurgent across the world, some seem to have scaled their attack down to religion, which is held to be a globally enslaving force.

Now it’s fair to say that many individuals who would otherwise have remained indifferent to religion, rather than actively hostile to it, have become radically opposed to it because of the Jihadist attacks of 9/11 and view Bush’s invasion of Iraq as motivated primarily by religion, rather than a genuine commitment to spread democracy or the product of secular geo-politics and economics. Despite the fact that religions and their adherents can differ profoundly in their attitudes towards violence – the Quakers, for example, like the Amish have always rejected war and violence – New Atheists like Dawkins have attempted to play on the common prejudice amongst non-religious individuals that they are all the same, and that simply by being religious means that a woolly, liberal Episcopalian can become a militant mujahiddin baying for the blood of the unbeliever.

Apart from the gross misrepresentation of religion as a whole, the tactic is based on a very dubious interpretation of history. The Marxists believed that the European working class would unite in an international class war against their oppressors, because their materialist conception of history told them that this was inevitable. In Marxism, people are free to make their own history, but it’s profoundly constrained by material economics. These economic forces define society, and the tensions between them give rise to historical progress. There are historical laws which demand that society, at least in Europe, go from feudalism, through capitalism, socialism before finally arriving at classless, stateless, religionless global communism. Fascism was held to be the highest stage of capitalism by some Marxist ideologues in the 1930s. In one East German museum dedicated to exposing the horrors of the Third Reich, Hitler himself was absent. This was due to the Marxist belief that if Hitler had not existed – if he had been killed by a bullet during the Beer Hall Putsch – someone else would have taken his place, and the horror of the Third Reich would still have come about.

The problem with this is that, as history has shown, this hasn’t actually been the case, and the whole historicist view of societal development is open to severe doubt. The British Idealist philosopher, R.G. Collingwood, for example, argued strongly that there were no historical laws, and that men and women really did make their own destinies. He viewed history as a science of the human mind and behaviour, but, in contrast to psychology, a non-reductive science as human history is unpredictable.

This is in stark contrast to the quasi-Behaviourist denial of human consciousness and freedom now in vogue amongst Brights like Daniel C. Dennett. For the Behaviourists, the soul did not exist, and people could be conditioned and controlled like Pavlov’s dogs. Yet for some philosophers and political scientists, this view of humans as merely reactive machines is profoundly inadequate as an account of humanity, and dooms any military or political action based on it to failure.

In his interview with the great contemporary Christian philosopher, William Lane Craig in his book, The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel quotes Craig as stating that part of the reason America lost the Vietnam War was because American military thinking was strongly permeated by Behaviourism. Humans had no innate free will of their own, according to Behaviourism, and so could be conditioned by suitable stimuli. In the case of the Vietnam War, the suitable stimuli were the bombing missions and other combat operations with which the American military hoped to break the Viet Cong both militarily and deny them support from the wider civilian Vietnamese population. However, as William Lane Craig says, people do have free will, and can’t be so conditioned. Instead of breaking the spirit of the Vietnamese opposition, it encouraged them to fight all the more against America. In so doing they actually provided disproof of a purely materialist conception of humans as programmable biological machines.

Which is ironic for Communist system.

The same possibility is there with Hitchens’ hope that the War on Terror will lead to people being further alienated from religion. Not only are people of different faiths acting against that misconception, whatever their views about the War on Terror or the Invasion of Iraq, but paradoxically history itself provides strong evidence that there are no laws governing it. Hitler’s rise to power wasn’t inevitable. When he was imprisoned in the Landsberg for a year, writing Mein Kampf, the Nazi party fell apart. Yes, there are wider, societal forces which can radically constrain how people act and the direction in which that society can develop, but individuals are able to change their destiny. And if this is the case, not only will Hitchens hopes for a rise in atheism fail to materialise, but the entire materialist, determinist conception of human psychology and history on which it is based collapse as well.

Hitchens’ view of the War on Terror becoming a War on Religion is a form of Marxist-style reductionist historicism. It would be no bad thing indeed if this form of reductionism were to fall.

21 Responses to “Hitchens on the War on Terror: Still Thinking Like A Marxist?”

  1. Rich Says:

    Hitchens has some unpopular views. If it’s this blogs purpose to discuss theology (and I’m not sure it is, perhaps it is not) then is this simply well-poisoning?

  2. Frank Walton Says:

    Hey Beast, sorry to change the subject, but did you get my email?

  3. beastrabban Says:

    I did indeed, Frank, and I’d be delighted to be one of the Atheism Sucks: The Next Generation contributors. I’m sorry I didn’t respond to it earlier.

    Hi Rich – sorry if this seems like well-poisoning. It’s not intended to be. It’s just that thinking about Hitchens’ supposed support for the War on Terror as a war against religion really did strike me as strongly similar to Marxist views of war as leading to popular discontent against the establishment. Moreover the historicism on which this thinking is based does need critiquing as it’s philosophically dubious and could have disastrous consequences.

  4. Feyd Says:

    Beast, good blog and you might well be right about Hitchens having tactical reasons for his support of the War. Its good you mentioned Vietnam which is a clear demonstration of how disastrous it can be to apply atheist style reductionist strategy to real world situation. Acting on advise from rationalists like Alain Enthoven, the then defence secretary Mcnamara had set about reforming the Army to clear away what they saw as “emotional clutter” like patriotism and respect for tradition, so as to make way for a more rational way of running the service. As you imply not only did this strategy reduce operational effectiveness, it led to appalling moral corruption during the Vietnam war. For example the disastrous body count – troops were later known to have made up the figures to fulfil their performance targets, or in some cases to deliberately kill civilians to make up the numbers. (See Adam Curtis’s documentary ‘The Trap’ )

    Contrast this with the British Army, of all the British institutions it’s the one that’s best retained its original inner forms and spirit. While its been open to operational reform the army has resisted political correctness and remained an openly Christian ethos. Accordingly the army has retained exceptional operational effectiveness despite its huge under funding. Despite some serious problems with the bullying of new recruits, the armys success in winning hearts and mind, both abroad and in retaining the respect of the public here in Britain reflects its success in retaining its high moral character.

  5. Rich Says:

    Hitches has a strong (self admitted) contrarian streak. It’s a good thing, if only for the orthodoxy to have moments of introspection. I think invading to liberate from tyranny is legitimate, but it has issues:

    1) “Tyranny” is a bit subjective
    2) The policy is not uniformly applied.

    Also, If we’re being honest we didn’t “invade to liberate from tyranny”

  6. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Feyd – thanks for your comments.

    Yeah, I watched The Trap with great interest, and do remember the piece about how Alain Enthoven catastrophically corrupted the American military with performance targets. The programme did mention that the American top brass hated Enthoven because of his attempt to remove the importance of patriotism and respect for tradition as the heart of the American military machine. This seemed to show very much that the traditionalists were right. I suspect that whatever would have happened, America would still have had to pull out of Vietnam. However, without Enthoven’s interference, the war would have been fought more ethically and America and its servicemen would’ve enjoyed rather more respect in its aftermath.

    Regarding the reduction of humans to statistics through scientific rationalism, an approach which was key to Enthoven’s mismanagement of the military, Richard Milton says something similar in his book Forbidden Science . The book’s about heretical research that is suppressed, but nevertheless does seem to have something to it, and the way the scientific establishment will react to suppress anything that challenges the existing paradigm. Some of the science is very dubious indeed, but it does make for interesting reading. For example, the Wright Brothers had been flying about for nearly five years at Kitty Hawk before the Scientific American actually bothered to send someone out to confirm that they were actually flying. Before then the magazine had simply dismissed the reports out of hand.

    One of the interesting things Milton says about the dehumanising effect of scientific rationalism is through a comparison of the government’s policy for developing air raid shelters before the Second World War and for a nuclear war in the 1950s. Milton notes that in both cases the government expected casualties in the millions. Originally in the case of the Second World War, some members of the British cabinet felt that it was useless to build air-raid shelters for civilians, as they believed that the bombers would always get through. No protection would ever be possible, and so they advocated not even trying to build them, but spending the money elsewhere. However, Milton notes that this opinion failed to find support amongst the rest of Churchill’s cabinet, and civilian air raid shelters duly were produced, along with pamphlets about how British citizens could built them. The result was that thousands of lives were saved.

    In the 1950s, by contrast, the government was swayed by the view that expense far outweighed the numbers of lives saved, and so concentrated on building shelters for the government and key personnel, rather than protecting the general public. Milton notes that somehow, between 1939 and 1949, some humanitarian feeling was lost, and calculations concerning the defence of the country reduced humans solely to statistics, rather than taking them into account as real people with an intrinsic value beyond mere utilitarian calculations of relative value.

    As for the British Forces, one of my friends at College was a former paratrooper, and there is still a strong Christian ethos in the British Army. Of course the Forces are changing to become more multicultural. I’m sure that there are some areas of military expertise at which the American forces are much better. Nevertheless, looking at some of the reports in the British papers, it does seem that the British army was better able to win hearts and minds.

  7. JOR Says:

    Nothing encourages evil deeds and self-righteous rationalization afterward like patriotism. American behavior during Vietnam was not significantly worse than during previous wars. If anything, lying about killing people (who may or may not be relatively innocent; you don’t know and it’s not your job to care if you’re a soldier) is better than actually doing it.

  8. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Rich – I actually agree with you in that I do think you do need dissenting voices to provoke healthy debate and prick a few consciences. However, this does not mean that the dissenting voices are always right, or automatically deserve respect, merely because they dissent.

    As for the morality of liberating countries by invading them, you’re right in that ‘tyranny’ has element of subjectivity to it. To us in the democratic West, nearly all the regimes in the Middle East could be considered as tyrannies given their extremely authoritarian nature. Syria has something like eight different secret polices, while Mubarrak’s regime in Egypt rigidly clamps down on dissent. However, I suspect that someone from within those societies might defend such authoritarianism on the grounds that they preserve political and social stability, and preserve peace against the possibility of factionalism and violence.

    I also agree with you in that the policy of invading countries to liberate them is inconsistently applied. Clearly we haven’t invaded Tibet to liberate it from the Chinese, or launched an invasion of Burma to assist its people in establishing a democracy against the military junta now running the country. Now one can defend this using the old quote that ‘politics is the art of the possible’. Any military actions against China clearly would be disastrous, so even if one felt that a Chinese withdrawal from Tibet was highly desirable, one would be very wide to avoid military action. Thus it makes more sense to concentrate on goals that can be achieved, even if that means an inconsistent application of the use of force.

    In actual fact, I think the British and American peoples were mis-sold the war in Iraq. The inquiry found that the Blair government had indeed ‘sexed up’ the dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It also strongly appears to me that there were very strong economic motives behind the country’s invasion, given the vast number of key Iraqi industries which immediately passed into allied, chiefly American ownership, after the invasion. I don’t doubt, however, that some of the Neo-Cons were genuine about rectifying the ‘democratic deficit’ in Iraq, and hope to create a genuinely humane and democratic state through Hussein’s overthrow.

    It’s also true that there were also dissident Iraqis in the West, refugees from Hussein’s regime, who shared this optimism. Hussein’s regime was, like many others in the developing world, deeply corrupt. Political analysts of Hussein’s Iraq used to talk about the ‘clan-class’ system. Basically, the members of the Iraqi governing and business elites were members of Hussein’s own clan. The nepotism was so entrenched and flagrant that Hussein abolished one aspect of the traditional Arab surname system so that it would not be so blindingly obvious to everyone in the country how it was dominated by his al-Tikriti clan. There were people who believed that the reform of the Iraqi political system would create a proper business culture, where inidustry was opened up to everyone with talent and goods and services would be effectively and efficiently provided. Sadly that hope does not seem to have been realised.

  9. beastrabban Says:

    Hi Jor – yeah, all too often the old saying ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’ has been proved true. I’m also not particularly bothered about the troops making up the numbers of people they killed in order to reach their performance targets. What does bother me is that they also killed civilians to do this.

    Now I really don’t know anything about the performance of the American military in Vietnam and previous wars to be able to comment on whether they behaved worse in Vietnam than elsewhere, so I’ll have to take your word for it. However, I think it’s also true that when patriotism also strongly identifies with humane treatment, and this is ingrained in military tradition, it does act as a strong brake on the perpetration of atrocities by troops.

    Now I won’t preted that the British military is perfect. Every now and then over this side of the Atlantic there is shock and revulsion about some of the atrocities the British army committed in Kenya during the Mao-Mao rebellion in the 1950s. Nevertheless, during the 19th century acts of aggression against civilians were considered deeply unpatriotic. When Colonel Dyer was court-martialed after the Amritsar Massacre, his conducted was condemned by the court as decidedly ‘unbritish’. One of the curiosities of the Second World War is that the Japanese navy was markedly more humane in its treatment of allied prisoners than the army or air force. Historians have suggested that the reason for this is that the navy was trained by the British and was imbued with some part of its ethos, while the rest of the Japanese armed forces were trained by the Germans.

    Given this situation, I have to say that patriotism and military tradition can act to prevent the perpetration of atrocities in war, and allow the perpetrators of at least some of those that are committed to be tried and punished.

  10. Rich Says:

    Patriotism / Jingoism / Nationalism are just tribalistic anachronisms. The sooner the world is done with them, the better.

  11. JOR Says:

    Beast, but then it would seem to be the fact that humane treatment is seen as admirable, rather than patriotism itself. The association of gentleness with patriotism, of all things, is extremely rare across cultures, and frankly quite bizarre.

  12. Rich Says:

    I agree with JOR. Wow.

  13. Rich Says:

    Ps – do I need a Duney name?
    Piter De Vries?

  14. Wakefield Tolbert Says:

    Patriotism / Jingoism / Nationalism are just tribalistic anachronisms. The sooner the world is done with them, the better.

    Half truth. What is the reason nations had these? For ill or good, it would be for the same reason you would not like some oddballs following your daughter or snooping around. Or purchased a security system or locked your car and doors at night.

    Secrity. It is unfortnately true that to a large extent nations have used ill forged excuses to fight over nonsense. Also, some tribes even define themselves only as regarding the very word “human being” which is the name they researve only for themselves.

    But that is just human failing. For our nation, and Britian and similar Western nations, whatever else our faults–and there are many issues we need to own up to and many internal disputes and economic policies we can always reconsider (my own nation is not as socialistic and it is more individulaistic than Britain and France, for example), we still have many enviable qualities over the Third World in both our organization and our better committments to human specialness and needs. We go about these in different ways, to be sure. But it is worth defending even at the risk of praising the stars and stripes or the Union Jack. As William Henry III said, an imperfect secular society is not quite the same as a worthless one.
    In a world that in the plupart does not share our collective values, there is still a place for national defense, national pride, and the avoidance of pollyannish notions of world government until other serious items get settled to everyone’s satisfaction. That time is not now.


    ps– Beast I hope you enjoyed my posting about this notion of the “integral age” as put down by the old patriarchs and thusly inhereted by the eartly Church as tradition. Thought that was interesting and puts to bed the pagan influcence regarding date assignments?

  15. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the comments, Rich, Jor and Wakefield. I’m going to have to clarify precisely what I mean by patriotism. I mean a reasonable pride in one’s country, and desire for the best for it conceived within ethical boundaries. I don’t mean ‘my country, right or wrong’, and I’m not a fan of jingoism or nationalism.

    Now most people do want the best for their nations – they want their peoples to enjoy a good standard of living, and want their nations to be happy, prosperous, healthy, and educated. They also want their societies to act according to a minimum set of moral principles. In Islamic countries this means adherence to the Shariah or a secular code based on a conception of morality based on the core principles of the Qu’ran. In more secular societies, such as those in the West, this can be formulated according to notions of secular civility and decency. At the moment there is in Britain a ‘respect’ agenda, which is an attempt to produce a tolerant society in which people of different races, cultures, gender and sexual orientation are held to be equal, while acting against yobbish behaviour and hooliganism.

    Now linking patriotism to gentleness clearly is unusual, though some cultures have done it. There’s a tribe in Papua New Guinea that strongly disapproves of negativity. Children are taught that everything is good, and anger is strongly disapproved of. They’re unusual, and most societies aren’t pacifist. Nevertheless, patriotism can include a strong attachment to a particular identification with high morality. For example, Americans have, so it seems to me, a very strong identification between their country’s national identity and democracy. Thus, anything that is antidemocratic is strongly repugnant to the American people. Part of the reason why American pride took a violent nose-dive in the 1970s was undoubtedly due to the Watergate Scandal. Here was blatant political corruption and an attempt to undermine democracy perpetrated by the President, the very man whose office personifies democracy as against hereditary privilege and autocracy. Paradoxically, the fact that Nixon was exposed, impeached and convicted demonstrates the strength of the commitment to democracy as part of the American collective psyche.

    So patriotism isn’t, in my view, necessarily opposed to the creation of a moral order and the maintenance of proper moral standards. This includes war. Regardless of the repugnance most people feel towards war, unfortunately corrupt regimes do exist that have little qualms about the use of military force to pursue ends other nations accomplish through diplomacy and trade agreements or embargoes. Nations and societies do need defending, and so most societies have produced rules of war to limit atrocities. This has been done in the West through the cult of chivalry, and rules in Islam and Sikhism explicitly condemning violence against women, children and non-combatants. These rule won’t remove war altogether, but they do ameliorate its effects. So the connection between a reasonable patriotism that does not wish to see the homeland associated with or involved in corruption and atrocities will act against the perpetration of such atrocities by its politicians and military defenders.

    Thanks, Wakefield, for posting the link to the Touchstone article. I found it really interesting, thanks, and it does indeed act very much against the ‘Christmas is a pagan festival’ idea that’s being haunting the non-Christian community for so long.

  16. JOR Says:

    Similar to your usage beast, I’ve seen Dmitri Chenikov describe patriotism as ‘loving what is good about your country, and hating what is evil about it.’ I can support that. But given that definition it would seem that one ought to be patriotic towards all countries, wanting what is best for them (with the implication of loving what is good about them, and urging them towards this, and hating what is evil about them, and urging them away from it). Now of course, for practical purposes, one would generally pay the most attention to one’s own country, both its vices and virtues… which puts the claims of conservatives that certain critics of foreign or domestic policy are unpatriotic in a whole new light (whether those criticisms are sound is another matter).

  17. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for that comment, JOR. I didn’t realise that Dmitry Chernikov had proposed a similar usage for patriotism. I think it’s a good one. I’ve also seen others propose a similar moral scheme by which loyalty to one’s country is extended to other nations. One of the books I’ve got around the house on astronomy, Astronomy for the Inquiring Mind , adopts that moral stance. There’s a piece in there which states that people do, or should, in their moral development move from the self-love of infancy through love for one’s parents, friend, relatives, to the broader love of one’s country and finally to the whole world. Now this book came out in the 1980s, and it was part of a general treatment of physics. I wondered if it was a reprint of an earlier educational work for schools in which the hidden curriculum of correct, socially approved moral values were more explicitly taught than might be permissible today.

    Interestingly, Soviet schoolchildren were also taught pretty much the same moral scheme as part of their ‘Moral Patriotic Education’. Western commentators on the Soviet system have noted that the hidden curriculum wasn’t hidden at all in the Soviet educational system: you were explicitly taught the required Communist ideology. Moral Patriotic Education were lessons intended to prepare Soviet sixth formers for their national service. It included such sports as hand grenade throwing, and was usually taught by retired colonels, who were the butt of the kids’ jokes. Children were explicitly taught to love their individual Soviet republics, then the Soviet Union as a whole and then the whole world. In part, this acted as a justification for Soviet imperialism, as the Soviet Union was considered to be the most advanced society and its leadership of the rest of the Soviet bloc and assumed dominance of the world was presented as a kind of crusade through which the world would benefit through Soviet leadership.

    However, I think the love of one’s country which also recognises respect for other’s countries and also desires the best for them is a fundamentally good, just idea, despite the way it can be corrupted into a pretext for imperialism.

  18. JOR Says:

    But if we so define patriotism, in addition to being sigtnificantly different from what most people mean by it, it seems to make patriotism an ‘everything that is nothing’. Like egoism or moral relativism, closely examined, here we can’t really say someone is unpatriotic unless they themselves explicitly claim that they are. I myself am fairly indifferent to countries. I support what is good about a country, and hate what is evil about it, only as a consequence of favoring good and disfavoring evil in general. Most people would not call me patriotic, and yet under the scheme we have devised I could claim to be a patriot (I won’t, but I could).

    Let’s say I do so and I propose some policy for country X to follow. Any policy, imagine something that almost anyone would see as unpatriotic, such as surrenduring to a foreign invader. You might say that my positions are bad for country X, and therefore I’m unpatriotic but then I could just say that I think they’re good for country X – charitable conventions of dialogue would require I be taken at my word on this, and the discussion would then turn solely on whether I was mistaken or not. I may be wrong, even horibly wrong, but how could we say I was unpatriotic? Now this is all fine with me, as long as we remember that the way we are using patriotism here is wildly different from the way most people use it.

    NB: In that last paragraph, ‘you’ and ‘I’ and refer to hypothetical individuals, not literally to you or me.

  19. Rich Says:

    Don’t you think you could drink from a bigger cup if you let patriotism go?

  20. beastrabban Says:

    Hi JOR – that’s actually a good point, and there is the problem in that many of the collaborators of the countries occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War genuinely did see themselves as patriots working for the good of their country. In actual fact, unless someone is markedly cynical or indifferent to their country, I don’t see there being any reason to suggest that they are unpatriotic. However, there are minimum requirements of even a reasonable patriotism: the willingness to make personal sacrifices for one’s country in an emergency, such as serving in the armed forces when one’s country is attacked, or if one is a conscientious objector joining the medical or emergency services to preserve the lives and limbs of one’s countrymen.

  21. JOR Says:

    But if it’s noble to sacrifice yourself for the good of your country, how much better it must be to sacrifice many of your countrymen for it. Or, perhaps, some of its territory, or it’s pride. Or its independence (at least for a time). Everything here hinges on what is seen as ‘good for the country’.

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