Against Honouring Allied Bomber Crews

I saw a post today commemorating Bomber Command. British aircrews who flew raids primarily over German cities during the second world war. I don’t think they should be commemorated. Most flew missions attacking civilian targets. I expect that many new or suspected this was the case. That’s prima facia evil and wrong.

There are arguments on the other side. Maybe Social cohesion in war is important and honoring those who fight and follow orders improves cohesion. Maybe bombing civilians is fine if the alternative is a fascist takeover of your country. I don’t find either of those arguments very convincing. Social cohesion matters, but so does not committing atrocities or fighting wars of aggression. Honoring those who commit atrocities, assuming it is effective, also boosts the chance of soldiers agreeing to commit war crimes of of people being willing to fight in/support/see as glorious immoral wars. This is bad. How bad depends on the quantity of moral immoral wars and the difference in effect size honoring war criminals has on each kind of war. As for the second argument, I think doing a thing which has good consequences is only good insofar as your intentions are in line with the effects. I doubt many of the soldiers asked to bomb German cities thought through whether killing civilians was justifiable. I think they mostly just followed orders. More dammingly, I suspect that the vast majority would have done the same had their government been fascist and had they been attacking a democratic country in a war of aggression.

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