Some Pacifists consider Militarism to be any military action, but war theorists instead consider it a “common propensity or cultural bias in favor of war, upon which the war-maker is continually able to draw and with which any peacemaker has to contend. It first precipitates war and then dictates its ruthless prosecution.” War is seen as a positive good, something of intrinsic and unique value. Fascist
militarism “ruthlessly subordinates the good of humanity to the good of a particular race, state or nation.” But while fascism parades its militarism, others hide their warlike nature behind a peaceful and humanitarian facade. “The readiness to equate the good of humanity with the triumph of a particular community or set of values and to advance that claim through war . . . is really a form of imperialism: that is, of moral particularism masquerading as moral universalism.”
Unlike the realist, who opts for war on pragmatic grounds, or the just war theorist, whose grudging acceptance of the moral permissibility of war stops well short of moral enthusiasm, the Militarist is an enthusiast for war, a "happy warrior" who shares none of the moral anxiety rightly associated with the just resource to war. (Think of General Patton.) And, A.J. Coates argues, not only the Right but the Left, as well, has its militarists, although the Left “effectively disguises [it] by its much-vaunted espousal of pacific and humanitarian goals.”
“The modern transformation of war fought to vindicate a world-view [rather than territorial claims] generates Militarism, quite irrespective of the specific ideological aims.” The cause of war is not the perpetration of any specific injury or the posting of any particular threat, but the general offence and the general threat posed by the existence of the other. (Think of the Ayotollah Khomeini, who stated that, "A religion without war is a crippled religion.")
Those who think that they have a historic destiny feel the need to rid the world of competing destinies, so "the use of force with a view to such grandiose ends tends to become an end in itself, and war becomes an intrinsic value in the way it is not for the Realist of Just War theorist." The real object of war [to the Militarist] is the transformation of man and of the human condition. And those convinced their cause is revolutionary or historically significant can be just like Khomeini’s followers, with a sense of participating in a grand design. “This understanding and experience of moral, psychological and emotional self-fulfillment enhances war and threatens its moral regulation. It transforms war from an instrumental into an expressive activity, and gives participants an incentive for engaging in it that is largely independent of specific cause."
And, unfortunately, conciliation is rejected because the conflict is absolute, and there can be no compromise with an absolute enemy.Source is once again A. J. Coates' The Ethics of War, and all quotes come from his book.
This ends my posts on theories of war. (Yes, I hear the collective sighs of relief.) I'll return to discussing what is currently in the news, where, I assure you, you will not find any thoughtful treatment of competing theories of war.