Is it Aggression to Kill Someone who Might Get you Killed?

What if you and 50 allies face a serious outside threat? What if one of these allies, through no conscious fault of his own, is increasing your vulnerability to this outside threat? He’s not committing an easily identifiable act of aggression, but he’s putting the lives of you and your allies at serious risk.

Is it aggression to kill him?

That’s what happened in the last ten minutes of Episode 6 of The Pacific, a riveting show about the Pacific theater of World War 2. [Watch it here starting at 42:50 or see below.] A group of battle-ravaged US Marines wait silently in the dark on a Pacific island they are invading. The Japanese are there and eager to defend the island. But the two sides have not made contact. The Marines need to preserve their advantage of surprise.

One soldier cried out. He lost control of himself. He went nuts. The stress got to him. Perhaps he was having a nightmare. Other soldiers attempted to quiet him. He fought them. Their efforts failed. One of them finally hit the noisy soldier in the head with a shovel. The noisy soldier died.

Was an act of aggression committed in this context?

Is it wrong, by any value system other than pacifism, to attack someone and possibly kill them, under these circumstances?

8 July 2014
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