Quoting from "What It Is Like to Go To War", by Karl Marlantes, Kindle version:(I set off quotations from the book using ~~~~ here due to formatting problems. Quotations are in plain text; my responses are in bold italic.)
...room he removed his blindfold, and there, left accidentally on top of the toilet, was a fully loaded automatic rifle. His guard was the only guard around, just outside the door, unsuspecting. Waite walked out of the room and handed the rifle to the guard. In an interview after his release Waite said he had no doubt that he could have killed the guard and escaped. He handed the rifle to the guard because for years he had been telling his captors and other terrorists that violence was not the way to settle disputes, and that he wasn't on one side or the other of this particular dispute. If he killed this man to escape, he felt it would have devalued everything he stood for. He said, "Other than to protect someone, I could not use that weapon."
Is Terry Waite the warrior of the future or just crazy?
is neither. He is a brave man. Not all brave people are warriors. But in that
interview Waite helped define what a warrior is when he said he would not
choose sides and would not use a weapon, i.e., violence, other than to protect
someone. In contrast to Waite, a
warrior does choose sides. Choosing sides is the fundamental first choice
that a warrior must make.[Emphasis added] Like Waite, a
warrior is also willing to protect someone against violence, but Waite was
talking about violence that is immediately being applied. The second
fundamental choice of the warrior is to be willing to use violence to protect
someone against even intended or implied violence. [Emphasis added] This
second fundamental choice engenders an additional choice, which is accepting
the risk of death and maiming that usually results from the decision to use
violence against violence. To become a
warrior requires making these two fundamental choices and accepting the risks
entailed. Doing the above eliminates
any need to use the adjective "ethical" in front of the noun
"warrior." A warrior, by my definition, acts ethically. [Emphasis
added] Using violence other
than to protect makes a person a bully or a murderer.
This is where you lose me, Karl. It seems to me that when a man chooses to be a warrior he makes the choice when he enlists, and he forfeits the right to decide whether or not to participate in any future conflict. This choice is the same choice a professional hit man makes as a made member of the Mafia. The enlistee signs a contract to kill or be killed at the beck and call of the President of the US with no questions asked. How is this ethical or moral?
first decision, choosing sides, means taking on the warrior spirit. People who
take on the warrior spirit become metaphorical warriors. They are like warriors
in certain aspects, but they are not warriors. This choice is serious enough,
often entailing commitments of great personal sacrifice. A prime example is a
government or corporate whistle- blower. The second decision, however, choosing
to use violence to protect someone else against actual and intended violence, a
choice that usually also entails danger to the lives and psyches of the people
who choose the violent path, moves one from being a metaphorical warrior to
being a warrior in deed. Warriors are prepared to kill people.
Who decides that the killing is necessary "to protect someone else against actual and intended violence"? Certainly the soldier does not make that decision. In our system it's not his job to decide. It's only his job to kill while risking being killed. So is it moral to sign up for this? I don't see it.
We have seen deliberate lying to Americans by the President to justify and start a war. The Iraq wars were about profit for the oil industry. Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11. We killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in that war and thousands of our warriors died. The warriors never gave the morality issue a thought. They went right to work without critical thought. I see nothing moral about that.
Because warriors make these two fundamental choices that Waite does not, warriors operate under a moral code that is grounded on different principles from Waite's. At the base of Terry Waite's moral philosophy is what I call Waite's dictum: "Violence is not the way to solve problems." But Waite himself said in the same interview that he would have used a weapon to protect someone. This is the warrior's dictum: "No violence except to protect someone from violence."~~~~
No. The dictum of the warrior is "Violence whenever and wherever the commander in chief demands it--without question." There is nothing moral about that dictum.~~~~
These two seemingly incompatible positions invite wonderful moral philosophical debate. I can't say that Waite's position is more or less moral than the warrior's. I can say that the position of the conscious warrior will decrease the suffering of political violence in an imperfect world while the position of Terry Waite will eliminate the suffering of political violence only in a perfect world.