It’s common knowledge that the post-WWII decades have been riddled with military intervention by global superpowers. These interventions are dressed up as fighting for democracy or for the liberty of others. Yet most of us are aware that there is, however, a G.O.D. that the world’s superpowers are fighting for; gold, oil, and drugs. Oh, and for the vast military-industrial complexes who buy politicians through lobbying (at auction). But let’s forget about G.O.D. and the war machine as reasons for waging endless wars and focus (rather entertain) the former alleged reason for intervening militarily in foreign conflicts: “the greater good.”
Taken at face value, it might seem at first that bombing for democracy is okay regardless of the collateral damage inflicted, as long as the collateral damage does not outweigh the lives saved. Collateral damage is just a political phrase conjured up by politicians to soothe their own consciences by degrading the value of the innocent lives they took. And this brings me neatly to my point: the implication of waging war for the greater good is that it reduces the importance of innocent lives to just mere means to an end. No entity on the face of the planet should have the power to treat any individuals as mere means to an end rather than as ends in themselves, as that is what each of us is.
There is no utility that trumps the principles related to liberty. Why? Because once you start chipping away at these principles, it is nearly impossible to stop. The endless wars speak for themselves. When you attempt to justify killing innocent people with some utilitarian claptrap, you are attempting to justify murder. It is not up to anybody to decide whether some lives are expendable merely because they feel making them expendable is a prerequisite for a net greater good.
There is barely any difference between bombing for peace knowing that innocent people will be killed and blowing up innocent people in the name of a god or some nefarious political goal; the reason being that both the “good” guys and the bad guys overlap in the following two areas: some innocent lives aren’t worth sparing and it’s for a cause greater than any single person. To be able to truly call yourself the principled “good guy,” one needs to do away with the virulent collectivist thinking that deems lives expendable, regardless of what the consequences are of doing so. What is right is not determined by what the outcome is, but by what the means entail, and if those means do not adhere to the basic principle of respecting the sanctity of any single human life, then what is being done is wrong. Nobody ever said that doing what is right will be easy or even ensure the best outcome. Consequentialism does not trump deontology.
No cause justifies taking an innocent life. If saving a million people demands killing one innocent person, then the means in question need to be foregone. There are also no grounds for imposing liability for omitting to save people at the cost of some. It is like the trolley problem: to intervene or not to intervene? I say no, for the simple reason that intervening spills blood on your hands, blood that cannot be washed off by any number of lives saved. The door needs to be closed on social utilitarianism for the greater good in the name of what is right. Nobody ever said that doing what is right will be easy or even ensure the best outcome.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin –