A Moral Exercise

I just thought of a mental exercise that might shed some light onto the relative morality of the United States and Europe.

Imagine two states. We’ll call one the States United and the we’ll call Framany. The SU wants to go to war because the regional dictator of a particularly nasty nation is threatening to build weapons of mass destruction. The Frakens say that the only reason that we want to do so is to get the oil of that country for ourselves.

However, the Frankens would be perfectly happy to buy the oil directly from the dictator, even though that dictator has slaughtered his citizens by the thousands. In fact, one of the main reasons they don’t want the SU to go war is because they fear that they cannot buy that oil any more, and that they’re also afraid that the SU will find that they sold many of the weapons the aforementioned dictator used to slaughter his citizens.

Now, which is more moral. Both countries want oil. If the SU goes to war, several thousand citizens of the aforementioned country may be killed. However, afterwards the dictator will be gone and many more lives will be saved. If the people of Framany get their way, they’ll buy the oil from the dictator while ignoring the fact that dictator is actively killing his citizens and may be able to kill a lot more later on.

Could anyone really say that the position of Framany is the more moral one? Is it morally more acceptable to allow many to die through inaction than to allow some to die so that many, many more can live in a state of freedom? Or would we say that even if the motives of the SU were not pure that their actions would result in a case in which lives would be saved and an entire nation was no longer forced to live in fear of their own government? It’s seems to me that the moral choice would be the choice that results in the least negative consequences over the long term – and in this case, that formula clearly favors taking action now.

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