War

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This page is about War; violent, organized conflict between large organizations, usually governments.

The general consensus in our group is that war is harmful and destructive, something that exists outside a healthy state for society, and that we wish to prevent.

Talking about war within the rules of communication

Defining war

There can be some subjectivity surrounding what is considered war. For example, there are many conflicts that are widely referred to as wars for which the U.S. has not formally declared war. In accordance with our rules of communication about communicating honestly, we have referred to things as war based on whether or not there is organized violent conflict happening, rather than what governments or other entities choose to label a conflict as.

"Defensive war"

We have also discussed problems with the idea of "defensive war". Using a term like "defensive war" can imply a certain judgment or justification for war that paints one party as the aggressor and the other as the defender in ways that would violate our rules of communication, especially when not everyone would agree on these analyses. Even when one party clearly attacks the other, the underlying dynamics can be more complex.

For example, it is possible for a country or government to place pressures on another government using economic power or other forms of coercive power other than a direct military attack. Another problem with the idea of defensive war is that the actions and rhetoric of one government can lead people in an opposing government or military to conclude that war is inevitable, leading them to act first for tactical reasons.

Different cultures and societies, and different people, can have different beliefs or standards about whether and when war is justified. In order to discuss war within our rules of communication, people need to use language that avoids making any universal moral or ethical claims, implicit or explicit, about war. When speaking about these issues within our rules of communication, to share their personal judgments, people must identify their own viewpoints explicitly ("I think of this war as justified because...") rather than using constructs like "defensive war" that build these judgments into the terms used to talk about the situation.