War is what happens when rich old men disagree about sovereignty (who gets to decide what). Then, the old men send tens or millions of young men to die in the old man's disagreement. Chess is an awfully good picture of the reality of war...two forces start out, kill off all the little guys, and eventually trap the king. In reality, the fight is between kings...but the little guys do the dying.
Now, young man status is awfully tied up in going out and killing for the tribe...so it's hard for me to fault the young men who go out valiantly and die, after having been propagandized by their imam or president that it's tremendously important.
If you're a virtue ethicist like I am, The 4 cardinal virtues have been constant for 2500 years: Justice, Prudence, Restraint, and Courage. Soldiers are the gold standard by which you judge courage. And the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are perhaps the most prudential, restrained soldiers ever deployed in a war.
For the virtue ethicist, American soldiers are due nothing but respect. I salute the soldiers themselves.
But then...there's a 2nd part to this picture. What about the soldiers on the other side? Are they less courageous? It would be hard to argue that. Less restrained? Certainly. Less Prudent? Most of the time. In terms of virtue, it's hard to best the American soldier. But the opponent also is largely virtuous.
So we have a situation with 2 groups of virtuous young men killing one another, with both sides convinced that the other side is evil. And it's all the fault of the folks who declared the wars.
Personally, I say the appropriate response to war is to bring back the Hashshashin. Anyone declares/starts a war, kill the declarer and his family. Anyone escalates it, do it again. It would at least stop wasting most of the lives of the virtuous young men who currently fight the wars.