The numerous ethical and legal distinctions governing use of military force are being ignored by opponents of defence equipment advertising. Whether deliberate polemic, or just caused by conceptual or factual misunderstandings, claims that such advertising in Australia results in "untold human suffering" are simplistic, invalid and unethical. Moreover, Australia still needs a defence force and we owe it to the men and women who serve us in it that they are adequately equipped.
Letter to The Canberra Times
Monday, 31 August 2015
David Stephens’ confusion (Letters, August 31) over making necessary distinctions in the morality and utility of military force might be resolved by asking himself ten questions.
Could Australia guarantee its current and future way-of-life without maintaining a defence force?
Is our defence force an illegal body under international and Australian law?
Does David universally, primarily or even partly equate the ADF and it’s operations to uphold international humanitarian law (IHL) with those purposefully breaking it?
Does he believe the ADF inflicts “untold human suffering” on anyone, even when fighting those committing such atrocities?
Given what we ask of them, is it fair, ethical or practical to not equip our defence force to do its job?
What is wrong with companies from countries ruled by law legally providing their products to those who only use them responsibly and lawfully?
Why shouldn’t such providers advertise this accordingly — including to inform and educate the taxpayers of the democracy concerned?
Does David believe those lawfully providing equipment to the ADF, for use on lawful operations, are really equal or even analogous to those committing the gross breaches of IHL we all deplore and surely wish to stop?
How would preventing such advertising hamper or stop atrocities by those who are not, and cannot be, their customers anyway?
Has he considered that it might actually risk the opposite, not least by ignoring the necessary distinction generally between a force for good and amoral or evil force?
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