Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Monday, April 12, 2004

i was just following orders...

Ok, so now US soldiers are once again escaping to Canada to avoid participating in what they see as an immoral and illegal war. (Younger readers may not be aware that during the Vietnam war thousands of US conscripts fled to Canada to avoid the draft.)

As someone who served and killed in Vietnam, I have very strong feelings about what is happening right now. In the last 37 years, I've done a complete u-turn about a lot of things, Vietnam included.

I no longer trust or believe the right wing elements in the US or their political clones in Australia, the country I was told I was defending when I was recruited for the war in Vietnam. (To my shame I believed the lying bastards!)

But that's not what I want to talk about today.

Today I want to raise an issue I've raised before in other forums. It's the issue of "The Moral Soldier".

The US, in particular, was a strong advocate for the argument at the Nuremberg Trials (when trying Nazi war criminals) that soldiers cannot hide behind the statement "I was just following orders". The US argued that such statements do not form a valid legal defense. And a lot of Nazi war criminals were hanged on the basis of this legal argument. In invoking this argument, the US imposed on each and every soldier, from that day onwards, the duty to question the moral and legal validity of any and all orders given to them (let's call this Catch 22).

Cool. Sounds good. But.... Soldiers are neither priests nor lawyers...

Now, there are soldiers who join up during a particular conflict and I will not address their case here, other than to say that they may well be hung by their own petard in due course if their case is found to be wanting.

But there are other soldiers. Soldiers who join during a period of relative peace. Soldiers who are encouraged by their recruiting officers to see the military as a "career" in peacetime. It is the rights and responsibilities of these soldiers that I want to address in this article...

Such soldiers, I believe, join up in the belief that if they are ever sent to fight in a military conflict their state-sanctioned killing spree will be moral and legal. And they have every right to believe that (except for Catch 22).

Do you see the dilemma?

If they choose to believe their government's rhetoric for a war, they can subsequently be found guilty of war crimes under the "Nuremberg Precedent", a precedent which, I would remind the reader, was crafted by the US back in the days when it had the hubris to think it could utter the words "International Law" and actually get away with it without the spotlight of exposed hypocrisy immediately illuminating them in all their ridiculous nakedness (interestingly, the Bush regime doesn't want to know about International Law any more...)

But back to the story.. What's a moral soldier to do? The "Nuremberg Precedent" holds that obeying orders is not a valid moral or legal justification for killing people (and I agree). However, there is (as yet) no avenue for regular (non-conscripted) soldiers to mount a claim of conscientious objection, which is what would be needed to get them out of Catch 22. Tell me I'm wrong...

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