The Complexity of Presidential Decision Making

Every government has a responsibility of protecting its citizens/country against external aggression. During wartime, the decisions that the presidents make determine the fate of their citizens in the war and periods after the war. In this respect and considering my position as the president of a country in war, my decision should not only take into account the safety of my citizens by obliterating the citizens of another country. My decision should be guided by the moral or ethical principle which values human life irrespective of their nationality or interest of their government. According to military ethicists, "the pressures and high stakes in war, the moral-legal tensions, and resulting conflicts, and the well-trained, but fallible, human beings making the decisions are inescapable sources of moral error” (Strong 34). There are two options for facing the president in this case: to both the factory or not to bomb the factory. Either option has a moral or ethical argument.

In the case presented, I have a choice of bombing the weapons factory despite being located in a densely populated area to protect my citizens. Should I choose this option, bombing the factory would also result in the death of many civilians living in the areas around the weapons, factory. On one side, this choice seems unethical as it would claim the lives of the civilians and not result in the destruction of the military strength of the contesting country. On the other side, the decision would be best as I will be able to stop the aggression carried out against my citizens and nation. I would destroy the weapons factory and weaken the enemy country and could even win the war. However, as the president, I should recognize that my choice would have consequences and would even result in the unethical practice in the military in the years to come. According to researchers, there are the so-called “neutralizers” that can effectively operate in any “wartime decision environment” (Strong 32).  It is imperati). It is ve that the decision is made considering the effects of the weapons used.

The alternative is not to bomb the weapons factory. Should I make this decision, it would be considered as ethical as the lives of the civilians living around the weapon factory would not be destroyed. However, there would be a continued threat of aggression against my country and citizens. I would then be faced with the challenge of resorting to other strategies to bring the war to an end, including non-violent means. Alternatives available in pursuing this decision include using military strategies such as skilled sabotage demolitions, putting sanctions against the enemy nation, any of which would be appropriate and minimizing the losses.

The complexity of presidential decision-making or dilemma presented in this case resembles that which the United States faced during the Second World War. At the time, the then US president, President Franklin D. Roosevelt experienced before choosing to give an executive order authorizing the bombing of the two cities of Japan, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Despite being home to many civilians, the government of Japan had used Hiroshima to harbor weapon manufacturing companies and store for the country’s weapons that it used in WW II. President Roosevelt was thus faced with a challenge of either deciding to bomb cities, in which case the civilians would also lose their lives, or use not to bomb the cities.

Had President Roosevelt opted not to bomb the cities, Japanese military strength would remain intact and their threat to other nations would remain alive. The losses that this decision could have caused, both in terms of the number of deaths and destruction of property, can only be imagined. The cost of not bombing the weapon store of Japan and the anticipated consequences remains a debate to date.

On the other hand, the alternative chosen by President Roosevelt, which is bombing the two Japan cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the death of millions of civilians who lived in these cities. Again, the morality or ethical arguments surrounding President Roosevelt's decision has received as many criticisms as there is its support. However, whether it was justified or not is not the concern of this paper, but the complexity of presidential decision-making portrayed in it is.

To sum up, presidents face conditions requiring them to make tough decisions. While there are many factors at play, often, the presidents are always in a dilemma. Any president makes the decisions at such difficult times as wartime depending on their character, belief, and personality, the national values and the amount of threat posed by the enemy country. However, it is agreeable that such decisions should cause the least harm to the civilians in both countries.

Works Cited

Strong, Robert A. Decisions and Dilemmas: Case Studies in Presidential Foreign Policy Making Since 1945: Case Studies in Presidential Foreign Policy Making Since 1945. Routledge, 2015.

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