restricted access 4. In My Beginning is my End
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c h a p t e r 4 IN MY BEGINNING IS MY END Robert Royal Near Bayeux, France, the site of the massive D-Day invasion of World War II, there is a small British cemetery. It holds the remains of British soldiers who fell a generation earlier, liberating France during the First World War. A Latin inscription on the monument translates approximately as ‘‘To the fallen conquered who liberated their conquerors from conquest.’’ When I visited it was unclear whether the monument was built by the British, which seems more plausible, or the French, which would have been a bit gauche. Nevertheless, it expresses gratitude to the fallen inhabitants of an island, England, conquered a thousand years earlier by the ancestors of the modern French, who had returned to free them from German occupation. It is a noble sentiment that tries to place the recent sacrifices and deaths into the mutual history of the two countries —no hard feelings about Napoleon and Waterloo, in other words. Of course, the ignored third nation, Germany, was not merely defeated but punished in multiple ways, particularly by heavy reparations, with the Treaty of Versailles. Not much more than a decade after the Bayeux monument was built, those reparations helped give rise to great suffering and unrest among the German people. And it led to their unfortunate turn toward a blood and soil Nazi ideology that put all three nations through perhaps even worse experiences, all over again. Or at least that is the standard story line we learned in high school, a simplified story line intended to help us make some sense of a strained period. But is it true? Scholars, of course, debate this as they debate everything . But if we had time it might be interesting to look at French goals 65 66 robert royal (damaging Germany’s war-making capacity and punishing the Germans, who had exacted reparations from France after the Franco-Prussian War), British interest in preserving Germany as a trading partner, and American idealism (the charter of the League of Nations was part of the treaty, as few people are aware). But this bad example has led to an exaggeration of the alleged good example of how World War II ended, with the Marshall Plan and the reconstruction of Western Europe. This, too, perhaps neglects other factors like the Soviet threat as a further spur to our idealism , and the main factor that made a different approach possible: clear military victory and occupation. It is useful to pose these questions early about what we think we know about right and wrong ways to end wars. The title of this chapter is borrowed from T. S. Eliot’s ‘‘East Coker.’’1 It suggests a twofold view of jus post bellum action or ending wars well. The beginning of a war aims at a specific end, but the end of the military conflict can also be the beginning of an equally important jus post bellum process. Viewed from one angle, the whole point of just war reflection is, of course, to bring about a condition of greater justice by the end of a conflict than at the beginning and perhaps, where possible, even a morally good stability, a just and lasting peace. However, a just peace is easier to achieve than a lasting one. This chapter will flesh out these linkages between war’s endings and its beginnings, particularly those issues of security and ethics associated with just war theory’s historic twin emphases: the morality of the decision to go to war (jus ad bellum) and the ethics of how war is conducted ( jus in bello). With these in mind, the chapter will investigate some of the tensions between our ethical imperatives (such as intervening to stop the killing) and the consequences—intended and unintended—of our actions. I conclude with three principles regarding ethical action at war’s end rooted in traditional just war concerns regarding moral responsibility, restraint, humility, and limits. Looking Back: Just War Lessons from the Past As demonstrated by World War I and World War II, which have literally become textbook cases, it takes more than a military victory for success in warfare. The larger reasons for going to war and the civilized control over in my beginning is my end 67 its means, ends, and aftereffects play a large role in determining the longterm outcome. So not only is the end aimed at in...