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Wars are not ethical and we call for an end to violence and a return to dialogue

Pope Francis rightly spoke the words on many of our lips on 26th March 2022 when he said: “This war is shameful for all of us, for all of humanity, as it is unacceptable; praying that it will end as soon as possible for each additional day adds more death and destruction”. The obscenity and absurdity presented on our television screens of mounting civilian casualties rise as the military conflicts escalate. Thousand have died. Millions have fled their cherished homes. The elderly have no rest and the dreams of many young people for a bright future are suddenly truncated.  The trauma of destruction, bombs raining over children’s heads, increasing numbers of refugees, wounded and displaced persons and properties in the billions all destroyed by sophisticated weapons made by developed scientific nations remain a great disaster and shame for human beings in the 21st century.

The war between Russia and Ukraine that started several years ago has abruptly brought the entire world to the brink of global disaster, since February 2022.  After a few decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that ushered in a period of global solidarity, nuclear annihilation and the growing sale of weapons, including the threat of a nuclear war, stare us all in the face. And come to think of it, a nuclear threat that has consequences for all humanity –  flora, fauna and environment. That this is happening in the heart and centre of Europe, with Russia and Ukraine and the EU and NATO led by the USA as direct participants remains completely incomprehensible. How did humanity come so low?  What happened to the collective voices of diplomacy and the wisdom of our leaders in the political, social, economic and religious spheres?  A divided world creates victims of all.  Sanctions and the economic consequences of war deepen the sufferings many face, and the peace that humanity longs for and desires seems to disappear - just like that.

In situations of war, narratives emerge with baffling arguments, reasons for remote or proximate causes and even justifications, or taking sides by passing blame in such pitiful circumstances. The experiences of the 19th and 20th centuries show that in war, there is no proportionality, no distinction between enemy combatants and non-combatants, and actions suggested to aim at military targets often target civilians, mainly children and women. Just when we thought the age of reason had dawned and civility founded on global peace and mutual respect had returned, we face once again the challenge of a new Iron Curtain grinding into place.

At Globethics.net, we follow the sequence of events and try to formulate an ethical response based on sustainable principles in order for global peace and justice to herald. Wars are not ethical. War is morally wrong and is a bad thing because it leads to the destruction of human lives, killing or injuring people, and is a fundamental aggression against the Right to Life. There is no justice in war and no justifiable war. Whatever position thinkers may assume, every war is an assent to the “end of dialogue” and heralds an abuse of the other – the victim’s human rights. War exposes the evil and weakness in humankind.  It is often the result of greed, power tussle and lack of respect for the other.

For whatever reasons which force wars, using such arguments “as morally justifiable or having enough reason”, no war has ended as a solution to a problem.  Rather, dialogue has followed each war, and upon dialogue and good understanding have depended any lasting solutions.  The tragedy and catastrophe in wars - and there are many of them happening across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe - the war of neighbours with family and historical ties in Ukraine and Russia make it an urgent and critical necessity for all of humanity and for ethical voices to rise up and advocate for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

Globethics.net calls for dialogue, founded on the principles of justice, truth and reconciliation.  We raise our voices to speak and shout out against the injustices that are the basic reason for the absence of peace.  We call for restraint and for justice and peace with confidence and without fear. We proclaim the view of the United Nations, founded in 1945 by the committee of nations to make wars irrelevant in human history. And it is possible.


Obiora Ike
Executive Director 
Globethics.net 

4

Well said Prof. Obiora, war as rightly put is unethical. Violence give birth to violence and as often said it destroys what it claims to protect; human life, dignity and freedom. This Russian-Ukrainian war has to stop. 

If this subject is of interest to you go to https://www.euroisme.eu/index.php/en/views-on-war-in-ukraine for a series of bite sized blog articles about the ethics of the war in Ukraine. here you will find a series of philosophical, theological and other commentaries.

What we can all agree on straight away is that this war was provoked by seriously deficient ethical thinking and is being fought with a blatant disregard for ethical and legal norms.

What I can't agree with is Prof Obiora's assertion that NATO and the EU are 'direct participants'. NATO has so far resisted all attempts to involve it directly, precisely to avoid the risk of escalation. You'll find an article on the ethical implications of a no fly zone on the eurooisme blog.

Europe has gone through spreading slavery, colonialism, and two world wars. Europe has the best universities, the best industries, etc. BUT very unfortunately Europe does not have wise intellectuals like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and other potential intellectuals and leaders to govern their populations. Very unfortunate. Two world wars and now a third nuclear World War just to exterminate mankind. BUT fortunately, there is GOD in 2022 to save the planet yet again after Noah. Matthew 24:22 If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. 

Thank you for your comment. As you point out, the history of Europe is marked by episodes that would be considered unacceptable today. But so is the history of many other regions in the world, for example Japanese colonialism, Barbary slave traders and much more recently the treatment of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

No region has a monopoly on either virtue or vice and the same is true of the calibre of leaders they produce. South Africa gave us Mandela, but it also gave us Jacob Zuma. Africa gave us the brilliant Kofi Annan and the despotic Idi Amin. I agree that it is hard to identify a European statesman (or woman) worth of the name at the moment, but frankly, not every contemporary Indian politician is of the calibre of Gandhi, nor every African of Mandela.

It is clear that Europe, however defined, did not want this war in Ukraine, which is the result of one man’s distorted view of history and his vaunting ambition. He has trampled on practically every accepted legal and ethical norm. ‘Europe’, by contrast has refused to escalate the crisis militarily and is showing enormous compassion by welcoming hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.

Ethics (in particular in this case military ethics) can do much to prevent war by encouraging adversaries to seek every other alternative to settle disputes. But history has shown that despots do not respond well to such approaches.

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