Acting as the president of any country is a difficult job to have and it is even more difficult to run the country smoothly, with no problems and with the public supporting every decision being made. One of the hardest times to actually be the one responsible for making decisions for the future of the country is during wartime. While the country is at war with another, the president must be able to keep their country and its civilians safe, but must also keep them content with the choices being made.
For instance, in a scenario where I am the president of my own fictional country that is engaged in war with another country, and the factory that the other country uses to manufacture various weapons and ammunitions is located in a very populated area, as the president I have different alternatives as to what I can do. The first obvious choice is to drop a bomb on the factory. Doing this would destroy the factory and would lessen the threat of any other attack against my country because there would be no other factory that could supply weapons and ammunition for the country that we are at war with. However, because the factory is located in a populous area, that would mean that the home would not only affect the factory, but would also have a disastrous impact on the civilians living anywhere near it. As the president, I would have to ask myself, “Am I willing to end the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent people for the sake of winning a war?”. The consequences of dropping the nuclear bomb would be catastrophic. Not only would innocent lives be taken away, but also the two countries will likely never be on good terms. Morally, the option of bombing the factory is unfavorable and because of this, the only other course of action is to leave the factory alone.
Because the area is heavily populated, dropping a bomb on the factory would be a terrible decision and it would inevitably bring chaos to both the opposing country and possibly even my country. The thought of potentially killing and harming innocent lives is horrible and so the other course of action would appear to be a lot more favorable. This alternative would be that I would avoid having to drop the bomb on the manufacturing factory, but that would mean that I would have to think of another way to prevent the other country from continuing to attack my country. This option appears to be the most ethically correct choice because not destroying the factory would mean that the people living there would be safe from any explosion that the nuclear weapon would cause, thus saving their lives. However, if I allow for the factory to continue manufacturing the weapons that they are using against my country, then I am endangering the lives of my own people. By not bombing the factory, I am giving the other country the upper hand and they have the frightening opportunity of bombing a very populous city in my country. Then, I would have to consider what is more ethical: killing innocent civilians in the rival country and relieving my country of the threat they impose, or sparing their lives but putting my own citizens in a dangerous position and increasing their risk of being critically injured.
A similar event to this that occurred in the real world is the unfortunate bombing of Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. The reason for the attack on Japan was very clear and obvious: Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Naval Base. This forced the United States to enter the second World War, which they had been attempting to avoid. Soon, the United States began the Manhattan Project, a U.S. government program. The Manhattan Project’s original purpose was to secretly build and test an atomic bomb to use against Nazi Germany, but Germany surrendered unconditionally before the first successful detonation of the atomic bomb. This surrender now placed Japan as the next target. On August 6, 1945, almost four years after the United States entered World War II, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan at around 8:15 a.m. According to History.com Staff (2009), “…the bomb’s blast was equal to 12-15,000 TNT, destroying five square miles of the city.” According to Hall (2013), the atomic bomb killed roughly “80,000…people instantly” on the day the bomb exploded over the city, but over the course of a few months, approximately “192,020 citizens died in total” because of the lasting effects the bomb had. Although it was morally incorrect, the decision to drop this nuclear weapon was an easy choice to make for the U.S. because Japan had just attacked a U.S. Naval Base and killed many U.S. citizens.
All in all, coming to the most ethically correct alternative is very difficult for a president responsible for millions of lives, and this difficulty increases during times of war when presidents must decided what morals and ethics they should uphold for their country.