I believe significant time should be allocated for the education of our military officers in philosophy, axiology, ethics and religion. These lessons will help them learn, for example, summum bonum -- the greatest good, the ultimate importance or the ultimate end that human beings ought to pursue. This concept can be an end in itself, containing all other goods.
Philosophy, axiology and ethics could teach our officers that all desires cannot be satisfied, that they may be conflicting. This would enable them to weigh the relative value of goods and ascertain which of them must be secured at the loss of others. They should learn to differentiate conscientiously between their physical comfort and personal happiness and the moral, the virtuous and the collective good. In fact these are not entirely mutually exclusive. The difference lies only on the surface. Studying axiology and ethics could make our officers understand how, why and to what degree humans should value things -- a person, idea, object or anything else. They need this study of good and evil more than the courses they take on economics, based upon the material cost-benefit dichotomy. Then they would be able to value the conduct of persons rather than objects.
Axiology or ethics could teach them how human beings develop, believe and act or fail to act on certain values. They might clarify the values that orient or reorient them in their individual and social life, lest their personal choice, judgment and behavior fail to guide them at different stages of their professional and human development. Military officers need to learn the values rightly held by the majority and community, and why and how different groups of people may hold or prioritize different kinds of values influencing social behavior.
Such an education could form a basis for officers’ ethical actions consistent with universal values and measures. This foundation would provide support for their integrity, service to humanity and altruism. These values constitute the integral parts of true human culture and generate sound behavior. With them, officers would not indulge illegal expectations, or lose their personal identity and sense of worth, but remain good, helpful and important. They might help people solve common human problems rather than initiating plots and coups to the detriment of society. They could come to understand people of other cultures or origins and the values, beliefs and assumptions that motivate their behavior and aspirations because every life, including the future generations of a nation, is “priceless.”
The clarification of values could help them clarify what is worth working for and what their lives are for. They might cease imposing their own egoistical, marginal, partisan, ideological, undemocratic passions on the majority. Their cognitive, moral and professional education must be based on values such as democracy, justice and service to all without discrimination. Their perspective should be based more on global norms and the value of life and saving lives as opposed to taking them, rather than on abstract claims, exclusivist ideology and the interests served by a killing junta.
Our officers should learn to take part in our culture even if their personal values do not entirely agree with some of the normative values sanctioned in the culture. They must learn to synthesize and extract aspects valuable to them from the multiple subcultures they live among. If any officer or group of officers expresses a value in serious conflict with the norms of Turkish society, society with its authority ought to use various means of encouraging conformity or stigmatizing the non-conforming behavior of such marginal officers. Fair legal probes, prosecution and imprisonment can justly result from conflict with social norms that have been established as law.
Human life cannot be traded for professional promotion and marginal benefits. Some officers’ great ambitions for their future promotions are not commensurate with the low value they assign to soldiers’ lives. People will judge officers’ actions by their conformity with rules, morality, ethics and the service mentality, not by the good consequences arising from actions for the officers themselves. Turkish society does not take pleasure in watching its beloved children maimed and killed.