Is the Soviet Union more ready than other countries to sacrifice human lives in warfare?
This is a key question not only for military strategists but for anyone interested in ethics and value inquiry. Amnon Sella investigates Soviet attitudes toward the military, toward its own prisoners of war and toward the ethos of fighting to the death. Changes in these attitudes from Czarist times to the present are also discussed by the author. He concludes that the Soviets have been less ready to be ruthless and to tolerate massive sacrifices than has been assumed until now. This surprising attitude is rooted more in utilitarian-military logic than it is in any altruistic compassion.
This unique and controversial study is the first of its kind to appear in the West, and the first to examine Soviet attitudes toward the value of human life in a scientific and systematic way. Because its discourse is that of the military itself, comparisons can be drawn with the military cultures of many different societies.