Ethics in Complex Contingencies: New Demands on the Warrior Ethic   [open html - 173KB]

"Soldiers searching for insurgents knocked on an apartment door where they were told loyalists of Saddam Hussein were hiding. They yelled out in English and Arabic US Army, open the door! After a few minutes they heard a shot come from the apartment. In the confusion it was not clear if it was aimed at them or not...After the dust cleared, they found they had killed a teen-age girl and her father, who fired the shot because he thought criminals were at the door. It is not the purpose of this paper to second-guess hard decisions made by military professionals in the heat of battle. However, situations like the one described above make the warrior ethic, by which soldiers make and judge these decisions, seem inadequate. Given the ethics of the military profession arguably these soldiers did nothing wrong. Civilian deaths in war are legally and morally permissible. But what troubles some about this example is that the family in question had survived the major combat operations and was going about the business of reconstructing their lives in post-Saddam Iraq. While all death in war is tragic, deaths of noncombatants after a war is apparently over seem especially so and undermine the ideal of a just and stable Iraq for which soldiers are ostensibly fighting."

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United States Air Force Academy: http://atlas.usafa.af.mil/
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