Operation Rebirth: Captain America and the Ethics of Enhancement
Major Todd A. Burkhardt considers under what circumstances it would be morally right to bioengineer super-soldiers.
In 1940, as the United States prepares for war, Steve Rogers, a frail young man unable to enlist in the military due to physical limitations, volunteers for a secret experiment. Operation Rebirth transforms him into the ultimate physical specimen: the American super-soldier. This super-soldier, known as Captain America, fights against tyranny and for the capitulation of Hitler, the Nazis, and the Red Skull, a Nazi secret agent. This was the genesis of a comicbook superhero whose exploits were first published in late 1940, nearly a year before the USA entered the war. But what would be the moral ramifications of creating a real Captain America? Is the intentional creation of super-soldiers by cell engineering morally permissible? If (when) we have the capability, should we assent to it?
I believe that such an endeavor would be morally permissible and even praiseworthy if it met two criteria.