War happens for various reasons, and some of these include a country’s economic or political benefits.

One might argue that wars are incredibly unnecessary from a bystander’s perspective. And to a certain extent, this is true. After all, diplomatic conversations do exist and have proven to be a helpful method in reaching a consensus. People from opposing sides have tried to sit down and attain a decision without aggression, and in most cases, these discussions worked out for the benefit of both sides.

However, there can also be instances where countries can’t meet mid-way. This is when wars take place. They don’t happen unsystematically. With the power play most leaders possess, wars are planned out thoroughly. Countries only commit them if they believe that the benefits outweigh the consequences, and the diplomatic approach doesn’t provide much help. For leaders, power and influence are two of the most important things they need to possess, and war is one of the effective – though also destructive – ways to attain those. 

The Moral Compass During Wartime

As stated above, a war is only committed if the benefits outweigh the consequences. However, this doesn’t automatically make it valid. A war is only considered just if fought for a justified reason, which carries moral weight. For instance, it isn’t just if it’s done to gain power over another. But if it’s done to protect one’s citizens over the other, it becomes a just cause. It can be justified if it’s done to prevent something wrong.

 Soldiers aren’t War-Crazed savages

When there is war, there is death. It’s a factual relationship, a cause and effect.

Killing during wartime triggers a moral conflict in soldiers. After all, they are the ones pulling the trigger. This can make them feel guilty, shameful, and even angry at themselves for everything that has transpired in the field. However, this portion doesn’t encompass those that have become indifferent to the events during wartime.

One of the gray areas that aren’t openly discussed and explored when it comes to conversations about soldiers or war veterans is the possibility of them getting used to the killings and bloodshed. If one becomes exposed to the same situation multiple times, there exists the possibility of desensitization. In fact, Tony, a Marine Corps machine gunner who had served twice in Afghanistan, talked about the feeling of getting used to the chaos that happens during wars and even leaning towards enjoying it.

However, this shouldn’t automatically paint soldiers or war veterans in a bad light. It’s important to understand that there’s a thin line separating enjoyment from the thrill and that solely because of the killing. While people can never guess what someone else truly feels, people can safely associate enjoyment with thrill when it comes to soldiers. This thrill comes with the feeling of victory – for every hit means them getting the upper hand in the battle. Torment and exhilaration can co-exist in soldiers and war veterans. While they can have disturbing nightmares about the experience, they can also have exciting dreams about it.

War isn’t All About Inflicting Pain

Beyond the bloodshed, soldiers take part in wars for them to safeguard their citizens, even though this means sacrificing themselves. Soldiers don’t enter the position to kill other people. Instead, it’s for them to protect the population.

Most of the time, soldiers are extremely dehumanized because of their tasks. However, people need to remember that they are humans too. They also experience and do the same routines ordinary people do when away from war. Even during wartime, they can have normal activities to keep them occupied during low times – just as in the wartime escapades in Francis Dutch’s book. He depicted how ordinary and overall “human” soldiers can be, even during wartime.

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