News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: A Kind of Justice in Iraq?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Kind of Justice in Iraq?

It's a well-known fact that most of those who fight in America's wars are the poor and lower middle classes. In recent years thay have joined the US military to receive education and technical training to get out of their poverty and to find jobs when their service is over. There's a certain irony to the fact that in order to become less poor a man or woman must risk their lives in war to protect a country that did not provide them with a sufficient standard living before they joined the military.

It is also a well-known fact that many of the children of the rich do not now fight in wars to protect their country. In today's volunteer army they do not need to. Even in times when drafts were used, the rich were able to receive questionable deferments. This too is ironic, since the rich are the beneficiaries of a system that protects their interests and a society that has been good to them. Why should they not have to fight to repay this society for the druits they have reaped?

The notion of justice as understood in western society involves a certain proportionality. That is, what you put in you should get out. In many cases, this is a one-for-one formula. In the past, there has been the idea that some classes or people deserve more because they have special positions in society, simply because they are, for example, aristocrats. But in the modern world, the proportionality is egalitarian--no one desrve than anyone else.

When it comes to war and protecting the society from outside threats, I think we need to return to the notion of porportionality. That is, those who receive more and benefit from a society more than others should be willing to sacrifice more as a form of repayment. Therefore, the rich should be the ones who are fighting and dying in Iraq, since it is they who have reaped the fruits of this society more than others.

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