Are you saying, then, that physical continuation should be the primary concern of any morality, to the point of sacrificing that morality?
I am willing to die for my beliefs, which means I am willing to kill for them if an oppressor seeks to destroy my code of justice and I have no other recourse. This is the basis for “self defense”. It is an item of last resort, but I do not deny the option. Because I think that what makes people human is not the continuation of their life, but the fact that we place virtue so highly, we are willing to sacrifice life when required.
So, do I think a tyrant – who could only be removed by war – should continue his regime in the name of keeping everyone alive? I do not. And if you ask the people within that regime who are unable to pursue the life they dream of, I have a feeling they would be willing to die also, and likely have been doing so without our hearing about it.
Life is not lived without changing life. This constitutes a degree of force. When you plant your garden, you are enforcing your ideas upon the soil. The human will exists to impose itself upon the slate of reality. To live otherwise is to try to have no impact whatsoever, as some of the Earth First! groups desire. They sometimes wish that humanity had never existed, because we are changing the Earth.
Force is then an element of living, and as projects grow in scope, the use of force grows. Sometimes it is used to bind together, sometimes to separate; sometimes to draw things closer, sometimes to push them away. The director of that force is morality, which decides how and when to apply it.
We cannot call “force” evil, in that it is simply a tool used by the will to pursue its moral dictate. If we question war, we must question the morality that decided war was necessary. Does there exist a morality in which war cannot be waged? I do not believe it is possible, unless that morality is willing to co-exist with its antithesis.
For example, when you tend your garden, you engage in war against the weeds that would seek to encroach. You apply force to the plants, to direct them, but you apply destructive force to the weeds, to remove them. The weeds cannot fit into your view of a right garden.
As the weeds grow, the degree of force is increased. At first the police, then the National Guard, then the Army – and if the weeds are strong and stubborn enough, you will have to engage the whole armed forces. It is either that, or permit the weeds a place in your garden, and somehow admit them into your idea of what is a right garden.
If the weeds cannot be removed by any means other than war, then I personally would be willing to fight in that war to remove them. At the same time, I would work for education and other just means of stopping the weeds from getting to such a state in the first place.
The opposite of this, which you might call a “tolerant morality”, is people who know the weeds are wrong, but think that acting against them is worse, and so wait for the weeds to go away by themselves. There are times when this is OK, if the damage being done is acceptable, and there is reason to believe the right will prevail. But since human nature is free, and people will always be free to attempt to destroy the world, we must likewise remain free to stop them. Think of what would happen if a group of convicts took over a prison, and then asked to leave them alone so they could maintain their own life in their own little corner of the world. No, the government would destroy them if necessary, in order to remove them. So why is it different if a group of people take over a country, and ask the rest of the world to leave them alone so they can have their own kind of life?
I am not trying to justify Bush’s decisions, though, or decide the degree of immorality of Saddam’s regime. Whether that choice was just or not I leave to the U.N. to decide, which is the body who must decide when a country is being deviant, and when it has turned into a madhouse run by outlaws.
In conclusion, at the same time as you would remove from the just the degree of war, how would you remove from the unjust the same? What if we disarm and they launch an illegally constructed missile? What do you tell the world then, that we must simply wait for them to stop? If you let the outlaws have their little corner of the world, do we trust them not to grow, and to play nicely with everyone else?