National defence & Military issues

The goal of the OLBIOS Advisory Group is to help you ask the right questions, raise awareness and inform you on the ethical issues you are confronted with, using ethics not as a constraint machine but as a basis for a stronger, deeper, more conscious and creative approach to your field.

Current events and the need for a systematic rethinking of the issues of defense and security – and the respective roles of government, the market, and society in providing them.

In pursuing an interventionist and threatening foreign policy, does the government provide the very motivation for foreign terrorists?

Safety of the world when a single country dominates in nuclear possession and enforcement.

Does the thesis of the peaceful nature of democracy rest on a selective or even erroneous reading of the historical record?

The importance of ideas and ideological convictions, of motivation and morale, in war and defense.

Should the production of security, in the interests of the consumers of this intangible commodity, remain subject to the law of free competition?

Are there any private and voluntary, market-produced alternatives to the flawed system of state-protection?Based on historical experience and economic logic, how effective are private alternatives such as mercenaries, guerrillas, militias, partisans and privateers?

Does government guarantee security? The admittedly miserable record of governments concerning the provision of internal and external security.

What are the consequences of the free proliferation of weapons, in particular of nuclear arms?

What is the role of ideology and public opinion in defense and war?

What type of good is defense, private or public? Is defense a distinctly « private » good while national defense remains an « imaginary » one?

How would the « logic » of competitive insurance-protection differ from the monopolistic state-protection?

The necessity to clarify the meaning of : property, aggression, crime, self-defense, punishment and State, peace and war, revolution, imperialism and neutrality, isolationism.

The arbitrariness of « national » borders, and hence of « national » defense.

Is the national defense theory right when it states that certain industries (the aircraft, petroleum, and weapons industries) are vitally important to a nation’s defense?

Should a nation’s domestic weapon industries be protected from foreign competitors?

How is it possible to build defense strategies on major uncertainties?

On cyber-war, the military-technical revolution, chaos and warfare, and the now ubiquitous info-war. Do they reveal a true change in the character of war?

Is military ethics a contradiction in terms? Why the military is not an organization that exists to kill.

Is there something exceptional about the moral standards expected from military people?

« Moral imbecility » of the military service? Military as an (easy) target of opportunity.

Standards of conduct, violations and provisions, reprimands and disciplinary action with/without regard to the issue of criminal liability.

Discussing the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice).

What are duty, honor and integrity? About being faithful to convictions and following principles. Thinking on sacrifice.

What is loyalty, accountability, fairness? What is the bond that holds against conflict and dissension? Responsibility and consequences.

Military code and spirit as a potential well of moral elevation.

What is caring, respect, promise-keeping? Is compassion a key element of good government?

Military institutions as form of repository of moral resource within the State.

The responsibility of killing and preparing to kill. Is preparation to die even possible?

Non-violence and passive acquiescence in evil. Understanding / knowing evil.

The ethical tension of armed service. Capacity and a priori hostile circumstances.

What are the exact targets of military training?

The complex relationship between civilian and military sectors. Horizontal and vertical division of political power.

Thoughts on the fact that an army can never declare or maintain a war, raise troops, or establish the rules of it’s own regulations.

The concept of Oath and the ritual solemnity of armed services.

What is a military Code of Conduct?

Cases and controversies. The infinity of dilemmas in military ethics.

Multiculturalism in the army and the possibility of a common culture.

Owing obligation to the command / service / country / one’s own conscience.

Considerations on injury and mortality.

Multiple dilemmas of military commanders. Between accomplishing a mission / looking out for their people (members of their command). Equilibrium issues.

The loyalty dilemma: Obedience to constitution (but whose interpretation?) / Responsibility to superior authority (but always? And if not, why not?). The doctrine of respondent superior.

« Human nature » and behavior when atrocities are given a free rein. Lessons from the History of armed conflicts.

What is Treason?

Should « a Marine on guard duty have no friends? » On priorities and emotions.

Definition of a (national) Enemy.

What is restraint, and how to define and produce dedication.

Difference between military education skills and military education values. The bond between incompetence and immorality.

Deformations of group conscience. The case of rape as a gesture of a group solidarity.

How to judge/evaluate personality of people attracted to a military career.

Thinking on some principles of war. Economy of force and wastage of human resources. Profit from past experience. No overestimation of capabilities. On brute force and clever ruse.

Learning to follow orders yet retaining sufficient autonomy to refuse illegal orders.

Dangers of soft training.

Desirable anxiety, and loyalty to the idea of capacity.

Essential difference between military and militaristic way.

The role of character guidance and ethical instruction.

How to prepare for facing devastation, misery and loss.

What is a uniform? Outward signs of shared value systems.

What becomes of Duty and Honor in a wrong/unjust war?

The immorality of Not Doing: The Rwanda genocide case, and omitting to act as a war crime.

Brutality as immorality. Connections between high ability / high integrity.

What is Desertion? What is a refusal of an immoral order?

Is a military man an instrument of obedience whose choices and actions stay beyond his responsibility?

How to define a war crime?

The debate on just war.

Are the cardinal virtues pleasant irrelevancies in war time?

The question of torture. Inflicting torture in order to obtain information.

Ramifications: Army and : Politics, Economics, Religions, Environment and Law, Sexuality issues.

What is and what should be Authority? On directive and assertive authority.

Full integration of homosexuals in the army: the debate.

Inter-rank and inter-sex fraternization

Under what circumstances resign from the army?

Restrictions on dissident and protest activities. Why maintain good order and discipline?

Limits of the right of expression and national security.

What exactly is self-defense and why does it permit extreme acts? Definition and justification of violence.

How does selflessness work, and how is courage cultivated?

Values as standards to live by in order to remain in the military. Creeds and dogmas.

Ethical and legal correctness. The military justice system.

How can one disgrace uniform or country?

Military dependence on contractors.

Race, gender, sexual preferences issues.

Difficulties of following the acronym LDRSHIP (loyalty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage).

Purity of arms: Combatants as voluntary actors in a social contract.

Do soldiers stand apart from the civil order of peaceful interaction as soon as they are armed?

Cruelty of conflicts, and moral nihilism as an answer.

Is killing an « event » or a moral action?

Hostages ethics.

Interrogation of dangerous terrorists using torture.

The Domestic Role of the Military.

Counterterrorism Warfare.

Specificity of Military decision making.