Essay question: ‘To ensure peace, it is vital to go to war.’ Do you agree?

Interpretation of Keywords

War is an essential form of intervention/the most important solution to ensure peace.

War- the use of force/military means/the involvement in armed conflicts

Points that need to be addressed:

Justifications for war and circumstances in which war is justified

Arguments against war – human values and principles that war goes against

Arguments + Examples for why war is vital to ensure peace

1st argument:

War is warranted in circumstances where the use of force is seen as the last resort after exhausting all other possible means of diplomacy to prevent the conflicts.


Second World War

In view of the military expansion and aggression of the Japanese, as evident in the attack of the Pearl Harbour, as well as their lack of political willingness to engage the U.S and its allies in the diplomatic dialogues, one can argue that war is necessary and inevitable to bring the unstoppable aggression of the Japanese to submission. In such desperate circumstances where lives are compromised , war is said to be initiated and fought for the greater good of society/the utilitarian purposes, because the consequences of not ending the aggression of the Japanese could have been much worse/ because there could have been much worse impact on humanity if the military aggression of the Japanese were not averted by the war.

Syrian Civil War

The U.S involvement in Syrian to wage war against the expansion of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) – War is certainly the most vital means here, as political opponents are not willing to engage the other party to pursue diplomatic solutions.

As Machiavelli put, the ends justify the means. If we do not have any other options for peace, war will have to be undertaken with expediency to ensure that the well-being of our citizens is maintained.

2nd argument:

War is certainly not the best and sustainable solution to bring about global peace, as one has to recognise that there are other non-violent means to cultivate peace and order. Effective peace talks and the use of diplomacy are the best and sustainable way to bring about peace in the long run.

Critics may, of course, argue that these peace treaties may not also bring about sustained peace, as ceasefire sometimes comes to a halt. Yet, one has to recognise that peacemaking on the international stage is often a challenging journey and it takes time for peace to be cultivated, especially when warring nations have long been embroiled in such a long history of deep-rooted violence and ideological clashes. It is certainly still important and worth exploring these non-violent means in the world of diplomacy.

1979 Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt – with the diplomatic efforts made by the 1970s –  was a momentous/historic attempt to bring peace to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict in the region.

ASEAN has clearly demonstrated the power of resolving disputes through diplomatic means. Countries diverted the disputes of the South China Sea to the mediation of the International Court of Justice for international third-party arbitration.

Indolence to find alternative solutions may be an excuse to go to war, therefore we must ensure that we have exhausted all means before attempting to justify war. Ensuring peace can be as simple as opening up diplomatic talks. The pen will be mightier than the sword.  These former examples have demonstrated that disputes can be resolved without violent and vicious military intervention.  

3rd Argument:

One should also bear in mind that many wars in recent history were ill-executed, revealing many serious fault lines in the overall direction and execution of such wars. Hence, critics of war caution us that initiating such ill-executed wars has resulted led to even more disastrous impact on society. Indeed, one cannot claim that going to war is a vital solution to bring about peace.

Iraq War – 2003 – a very questionable war initiated by President George Bush, with the involvement of other western allies such as the U.K and the previous Prime Minister Tony Blair

1)  No concrete evidence of weapon of mass destruction ever found

2)  A shocking independent report in 2016 made against Tony Blair’s decision to join the U.S in its involvement in the controversial Iraq War – the independent report revealed concrete evidence about the miscalculated and ill-planned war strategies during the Iraq War. The imminent threat of Saddam Hussein was also not proven conclusively and it also revealed that the British intelligence had “flawed information” about the perceived threat in Iraq.

3)  The U.S involvement in Iraq was also said to be a fiasco because it lacked clear and effective direction in resolving the localised conflicts, and the U.S lacked an overall good understanding of the existing sectarian conflicts between the Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq. The intervention through the war actually worsened the situation, instead of bringing about true peace.

4th Argument:

War essentially represents the failure and the savage attack of the human spirit. It is an affront (attack) to the human values of compassion and empathy, and it robs society of the sanctity of the human life.

When we can justify war with another country, we can justify violence towards our own kind. No longer will we value human life, as we throw it away with expediency. Society will begin to fall apart as we know it when more wars are justified in the name of peace. More lives will be lost, more conflict began, in the name of peace and the loss of value for human life.

It is vital for us to value human lives to ensure peace, rather than to justify the loss of it to rationalise war.

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