Witness Reporter
2 minute read
19 Jul 2022

Letters | On war

Witness Reporter

Can we ever ethically justify war?

Write to The Witness: letter@witness.co.za

With regard to my article “The futility of war”, Ros Posel (The Witness, July 18) is correct to remind readers that the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler was responsible for the murder of six million Jews.

However, was approximately six years of the world at war, and upwards of 50 million human deaths — beautiful cities, villages, farmlands and the extermination of domestic and wild animals — justifiable to quell this crime against humanity and the environment?

ALSO READ: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Surely, the benefits of good overcoming evil, sometimes resulting from war, cannot ethically vindicate such appalling havoc, however desperate.

Many of us cannot help wondering how the course of history might have been changed if the Bonhoeffer plot, or one of numerous others, had succeeded in eliminating Hitler from this equation early in his march of death.

Wars do not just suddenly and unexpectedly erupt out of clear blue skies.

Many signs indicate the rise of maniacal tyrants such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Marcos, al Assad, Putin, and far too many others, “allowed” to gain illegitimate power largely through human apathy — not taking the necessary action to crush their inroads.

Seeking alternatives to war in negotiation, compromise, civil disobedience, conscientious objection, can have potent effects.

As Martin Niemoller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s fellow Lutheran pastor, said: “First they came for the communists And I did not speak out Because I was not a communist. Then they came for the socialists And I did not speak out Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists And I did not speak out Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews And I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me And there was no one left To speak out for me.”

Alleyn Diesel