Story by Sydney Poppe.
With the current situation in the Middle East and America being in the midst of election season, discussions of foreign conflicts and war are on the lips of every politician and they dominate the headlines.
All the talk brings forth inevitable controversy that stems from a wide array of perspectives on how the country should consider war. As all sides express their arguments on the topic, the question of what factors deem war justifiable has no simple answer.
Amongst all the conversation and debates, students and staff reflected upon the idea of war and what justifies such actions.
“Yes, sometimes war is justified. However, many, if not most, wars that have been fought throughout history have not been fought for just reasons,” said history teacher Matt Turner. “What makes a war just is a matter of interpretation. What is just to one country may not be seen as just to another. The fog of war makes it difficult to define what is right or wrong.”
For sophomore Zach Evans, war should be considered when the freedoms of others are put at large.
“War is justified when it is declared in order to stop oppression, racism, genocide, etc. I think wars of retribution, like ours in the Middle East, are unjust, as the majority of the victims, the Iraqi civilians, were not the perpetrators of the crime. War’s necessary to preserve the security of a nation are also justified,” said Evans.
“I think wars of self defense are always justified and wars to defend our key allies and the global order are justified, like defending democracies, “ said senior Peyton Gilbert.
In this day and age, the factors that play into foreign conflicts have shifted from what were once considered reasonable in history. As society and nations have evolved, so have the elements that concern foreign relations today.
Senior Andrew Greer said, “There were many logical and justifiable reasons for war long ago, such as imperialism and the necessity of resources. Now, however, war is partly only justified when one country or entity is breaking international law or if they are not treating with the rights the international community deems fit.”
When contemplating the justifications behind war, the future consequences must be considered as well. War significantly impacts the well-being of a nation and its society, whether it be for better or for worse.
“It can make nations wealthy, it can destroy economies. It can allow nations to rule the world, it can make them the antagonist of the world. War tends to shift the balance of power. The most powerful nations are often decided by the outcomes of war. Ironically, wars tend to destroy the most powerful nations as well,” said Turner.
“The positivity of war is quite subjective,” said Senior Kyle Helm. “…I do think that war often unites the citizenry and boosts the economy, and thus massively benefitting society. Although, I also feel that war coerces many young individuals into sacrificing their life and freedom for a cause they mar or may not believe in. Overall, I believe war is primarily unjust and should be avoided at all costs.”
Sophomore Maryn White believes war can leave a destructive impact on the nation and its citizens. “War can take huge tolls on the economy with one, the loss of people and two, the expense of supporting the war…War impacts society because any war will lose people and when lives are lost, it’s detrimental to the families,” said White.
Even when one side prevails in war, no amount of positive outcomes can outway the consequences humanity is left to deal with after.
“We must always remember that war is horrible. It involves the worst things humanity can do to one another and innocent civilians are always the ones that pay the cost of war. Although sometimes war is necessary, we must take every available opportunity to avoid war,” said Turner.
While others believe certain scenarios and factors call for military action, some advocate that war has no place in society. Senior Indea Cousin finds the mere action of war to be unjust and thinks nations should seek other methods of resolving foreign conflicts.
Cousin said, “I’m a pacifist, and I don’t think war is ever justified. I feel like our current global structure warrants conflict; somewhere there’s always a country looking to get ahead.”
“I think there’s a way, though, to reject this typical power struggle between countries: the struggle between religious, economic, or racial superiority….Long story short, war is never justified because there doesn’t have to be an effort to gain dominance,” said Cousin.
Despite one’s personal beliefs, the act of remaining conscious of America’s foreign relations keeps the public aware of any actions that could cause future consequences for the country. Even though many may not acknowledge the importance in staying informed on the global issues of today, Turner said he believes in the importance of students educating themselves on the foreign conflicts that affect modern day America.
With all of society’s distractions, from celebrities to social media, Turner notes that Americans can feel distanced from the conflicts occurring across the globe and that can cause a problem for the well-being of the country.
“Today, America remains the most powerful nation in the world and how we use that power reflects on us as a people. At the end of the day, the government answers to us. If we allow people to run this country who will take us to war for the wrong reasons, America will pay a sad price. We must remain educated and vigilant to maintain peace when possible and defend ourselves when necessary,” said Turner.