If a genocide that is allowed is moral, can it’s being commanded also be considered moral?
I mean, of course there is a difference between allowing and commanding, but if it is moral to allow X, then does that make it moral to command X? If not why not?
Let’s consider an example which bears at least some resemblance to the current geopolitical pickle surrounding Bashar al-Assad’s Syria. (However, I am offering a hypothetical case rather than an actual one to avoid us getting into rabbit trail debates about the details of the actual case.)
Let’s return to our fictional country of Roumidia. Over the last year roving government-sponsored militias have committed multiple atrocities against the Rautau people due to their persistent criticism of the government and its repressive policies. Human Rights Watch just published a scathing report of Roumidia’s government, charging them with genocide, and they have provided the data to back it up.
However, the United Nations and United States are doing nothing. Well not exactly nothing. They continue to pursue soft diplomacy. But they could stop the atrocities occurring in Roumidia and yet they refuse to act.
Before you become completely cynical note that the reason they fail to act is because Roumidia is being backed by its trading partners Russia and China. Thus any attempt by the UN or United States to intervene in the unfolding crisis would potentially escalate into something much worse.
So we have the very difficult situation where it may be moral for the UN and US to allow a genocide to occur, knowing that the alternative of intervention could have cataclysmic repercussions.
These kinds of situations happen more than we might realize. To take a less dramatic case, think of the undercover police officer who befriends a drug lord as part of a sting operation. The officer is present when the drug lord sells cocaine to pushers and he does nothing to intervene. But he is inactive for the end of bringing down the entire cartel (eventually).
If the police officer can be justified in allowing a man to traffic drugs, does that mean that he is justified in commanding a man to traffic drugs?
Of course not.
If a government can be justified in allowing a genocide to unfold, does that mean it is justified in commanding a genocide?
Of course not.