10/23/2004

Actually, A Simple Question

A profound change came about in 1949 with the way we in the United States and indeed the world fought wars. This change occurred at the conclusion of the trials in Nuremberg (Nürnberg) of NAZI war criminals.

Prior to these trials, a soldier's duty was to follow all orders unquestioningly. The American military prior to these trials had existed in a state of naiveté. We, as Americans had always taken for granted that our military officers and elected officials were basically good, moral and trustworthy people.

In the 1940's however, that naiveté was shattered on the barbarous shoals of NAZI Germany. It was there, that it became clear that the honor of otherwise moral men could be twisted by a malignant power. Or, further that claiming the protection of military discipline could be used to shield said malignancy.

It became suddenly clear that men of moral fiber were constrained first and foremost to the rule of law and basic human decency, and only after that, subordinate to military discipline. In other words, it became clear that claiming, "I was following orders" did not excuse a man from the rigors of humanity.

From that point on, the soldier was engendered with the responsibility of lawful conduct and further the responsibility to evaluate the legality of every order that he (or she) was given. The soldier's indentured service to corps was subjugated to the greater duty of responsibility to basic human morality.

Stated even more clearly, the most basic of soldierly tenets was given a loophole and new responsibility. Now the basic tenet of, "a soldier's duty was to follow all orders unquestioningly" was amended with one small word to read; "a soldier's duty was to follow all legal orders unquestioningly".

At first glance the addition of that one small word would seem innocuous, but indeed it was an earth shattering alteration to the most basic rule of soldiering. It made the extraordinary commonplace. With the addition of this one simple word, the lowliest of privates was given the ability to evaluate the orders of his superiors. Further not only was he given the ability, he was ascribed the responsibility and accountability for the actions of the corps as a whole.

So let me boil this exercise in verbosity down to guttural terms.

As a soldier it is your duty to obey orders, unless they are illegal. In which case, it is your duty to snitch.

I was taught this revolutionary tenet in basic training, as was every soldier since 1949. In fact I defy any soldier or veteran to question that very basic statement of fact.

This was a very liberal shift for a traditionally conservative institution. It shifted the scope of "duty" to include a responsibility for basic human rights and the supersedence of moral law over military law. Suddenly NCO's had to amend their speech, instead of saying "I am giving you a direct order", they had to add that troublesome little word "lawful" to make it, "I am giving you a direct lawful order". Only god knows how many times I heard that phrase during my tenure in Uncle Sam's club for wayward boys...

There is a point to all of this. The point is a simple question, mainly directed toward my readers who are also veterans. If a soldier is given an order to shoot a baby, what action(s) should he take?

Allow me to answer this rhetorical question and you may certainly disagree, if you feel I am wrong. The answer is. First, the soldier should refuse to carry out the order. Second, the soldier is duty bound to immediately report the issuance of this unlawful order to their superior's superior officer.

Unquestionably, these would be the only available actions of not only a loyal soldier, but also those of any human being with even a rag-tag sense of decency.

Am I right or am I right?

There are those who would disagree with this assessment however. I ask you now, could you possibly find any circumstance where this would not be a valid assessment, any circumstance where you could excuse a person who suspended basic human morals; who acted in a fashion other than I have outlined? Is there any excuse for a person to suspend basic human decency? I think not. Our jails house people such as these. People who suspend these base rules of social behavior. We call them criminals, serial killers, rapists and pedophiles. They are the dregs of society.

Allow me, if you will to share a few quotes:

"we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva
Conventions, in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search
and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, the killing of
prisoners, accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam.
"

"We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that
moves
..."

"I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of
atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in
shootings in free fire zones
. "
If the first part of this text was uncontroversial, how then could the man who uttered this definition of, and admission to inhumanity; this dereliction of the most basic duty of a soldier to disobey unlawful orders and immediately report their occurrence be uncontroversial?

I'm as equally certain that you know who uttered these words, as I am that you have concocted a flaccid facade to excuse them in the passion of your partisanship.

On another note, For those of you who still wish to contend that John Kerry was speaking only for those soldiers involved in the winter soldier "investigation" when he was testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the simple utterance of the words "accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam" would indicate that your idea of the scope of his testimony is erroneous and simply stated disingenuous.

As a veteran, supporting a man such as this makes you complicit with his atrocities and just as reprehensible!
Blogger Carter said...

Well, you knew I'd be the first one to comment on this one, didn't you.

True, we were trained with the "legal" situations you speak of. If this is your argument, how come Bush doesn't want us to be responsible for our actions in a world court?

By the way, I have friends in Iraq, and I hear some brutal tales. We are committing the same atrocities today, in Iraq.
My roomate served in 'nam, and we were discussing this war one night with a bushite. The bushite spoke of how these soldiers are fighting for freedom. He never served. We told him, in combat a soldier fights for his life.

That's why sometimes the line of black and white get blurred in combat. A marine friend of mine told me that some of these towns they go into the women and children stand on the sides of buildings, with "insurgents" in the buildings shooting at the soldiers. THis is one of the reasons why civilian casualties are high.
look, this is something I do not like discussing. Because sometimes you make decisions, especially in combat, that are not legal (hell, killing is illegal), but will help you survive or get the mission done. How can you compare a legal garrison order to the rigor of war?

4:53 AM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Sorry Carter, to put it in colloquial terms, "that dog don't hunt!"

There is definitely a distinction between the acts of soldiers, embroiled in combat and fighting for their lives -and- receiving an illegal order and acting on it.

A free fire zone does not suddenly appear during the prosecution of a battle and you know it. A free fire zone is an area that is declared by higher headquarters and conveyed to the troops during briefings in the rear.

The soldier's basic responsibility, if he finds that order to be illegal is to immediately notify someone and to not stop ascending the chain of command until his complaint is heard. Further, he should refuse to act on the order.

I believe Carter, that you know this to be true and that your reply is an attempt to obfuscate these simple facts.

Let me put it in this way, since you obviously have a problem envisioning the conundrum put forward.

Picture LtJG Kerry sitting in a briefing where he is receiving the briefing for his boat's mission of the day. His commanding officer points to an area marked on the map and says:

"This is your objective for today. The enemy has been massing troops in this area. You will patrol along this route and report all activity. This area has been declared by headquarters to be a free fire zone, so if anything moves, mow it down."

Of course this is a boiled down version of the information that actually would have been conveyed, but in essence it is correct.

If, in 1971, John Kerry thought that participating in "free fire zones" was in fact an illegal activity in abeyance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as he defined it in his testimony. It was his duty, at that briefing to refuse the order and report its issuance to a higher authority. Period! Stop trying to make excuses that you know won't float! If he accepted the orders and followed them, coming back later and complaining about it does not absolve him from the fact, that he indeed is a reprehensible criminal, because he actually performed the questionable act. In short, those quotes prove that.

I will admit that it troubles and confuses me why you, a veteran - a warrior, would not find this stance to be an insult to your honor and the honor of the men you call your friends.

You cry so loudly about Dick Chenney's activities, but those purported activities did not involve placing the sights of a weapon on an unarmed civillian and pulling the trigger.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Carter said...

Look, I wish I was in your military. Where you could just go up the chain of command and everything would work out. You see, that's not the way I saw it. They had ways of dealing with people like that. But in your perfect world, then yes you are right. (in a perfect world. Then again would there be war in a perfect world?)

12:52 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

We are talking about character here. Perhaps that's something that sets you and I apart. I've had in ingrained in me my whole life. Sure, ascending the chain of command can be personally expensive, unfortunately that is a part of taking a stand. Men of true character have ignored the personal expense and taken a stand throughout history. So let's say that Kerry's refusal of the order would have landed him in the brig. That is actually a fair exchange when the alternative is protracted; participating in the murder of unarmed civilians.

Make no mistake. There is very definitely a difference between the actions of the marines you described (i.e. being fired on from a building that also happens to contain civilians) and simply mowing down civilians while not under fire. The first is justifiable and the results are called collateral damage. The later is what John Kerry admitted to doing and the results are called murder.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a very powerful point. I didn't ever think about this like this. I am a veteran and was going to vote for JK, but I think now I have some soul searching to do.

Roger Walters

1:25 PM  
Blogger Carter said...

Oh, so we're voting on character now. Well let's look at your man. And we'll not look at the dui, or the drugs. Let's forget the controversy of him serving in a sham unit and getting out early, yet putting our soldiers in harm's way. Let's not even look at how even the current head of Iraq is fearful of the state of Iraq and Bush cannot see it clearly.

Let's forget the fact that this man tried to make McCain even look unpatriotic (a man who was a pow.) The man has no character. You think because he claims to be a damned christian, then everything is okay? You guys are so quick to friggin say something bad about Kerry, and ignore it when it applies to your man.

Here's the reason why I support Kerry over Bush in one line. Bush was given 4 years and screwed it and us.

How do you think he is gonna correct his mistakes? That's right you guys are all so blind to admit to said mistakes. Face it, your man has seriously wrecked this country and profited off it, as we pay for it.

4:20 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Well, at least he's not a confessed murderer.

8:51 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

...Oh and on another note... I happen to be an atheist. A person's personal choice to follow a deity does not weigh in my selection of candidates.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

The "Winter Soldier" investigation was a sham. Most who participated and recounted their "war stories" either didn't serve in units they claimed to have, or weren't even in the military at all. It was all Communist propaganda.

But John Kerry knows this, and knew this then. How could he not? The Vietnam Veterans Against War organization had the same mailing address and office space as the Communist Party - USA. The CPUSA paid for his trips to Paris to meet with the North Vietnamese. When America was fighting Communists, John Kerry was fighting America.

John Kerry makes scum seem divine.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you people be so down on a man who is a war hero with a chest full of medals? The don't give medals out like candy you know.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

G-

I am going to have to be the lone voice that argues against your initial contention, There are circumstances where babies get killed deliberately - rightly - and within the Geneva Convention.

What!?! You say? No way nope nope nope nope!!!

Yes scooter, you see I didn't discover the Vietnam CONFLICT last week and I did talk to a lot of the guys who were there, during the time events took place and after. There were things done in that war -on both sides- that caused violations by both sides.
The VC had this neat little trick of strapping explosives to small children and then having them walk into a US camp.
Do you shoot the kid before they get close enough to blow you up, or do you wait to find out if they are wired or not?

Hey! Hey you say that's NOT a -baby-!!! Gotcha!

You are right. Got me.

Babies were a whole other story, you move into a village and the VC have moved out leaving the civilians, or maybe not because VC don't wear uniform and the women fought as well as the men.
There's the baby next to the you just walked by - she reaches under the baby pulls out a grenade and wipes out you and your buddies.
Ok slightly different, you actually fight your way into and through the village, or the fight starts after you get in, it's over but there is a baby still alive in it's dead mothers arms, you reach to take it out and call back for evac. to take the baby back to Saigon, your a big hearted guy. BOOM!! Wired baby again.

No your initial argument does not hold water. Killing a baby is still an atrocity, one you indirectly participated in, but participated in none the less.
There is a breaking point - one where you don't know if the bird singing across the paddy is singing or signaling, one where you can't trust anything more than the muck in your boots and the guy standing next to you.

In those times even if the threat is not real you can do horrible things without being a horrible person and it's the fault of an unreal reality, not a fault of character or knowledge or non-acquiescence to the law, it's human.

The next time if your spirit is not shattered, having made an allowance for one mistake, the next gets easier - by the third it's a shared 'joke' just to keep you and the rest of the guys alive.

Don't feed the world black and white answers to the fog of combat and the threat of death -insanity- and then equate honest men caught in an immoral situation with criminals, serial killers, rapists and pedophiles.

In your attempt to smear Kerry for the sake of a short term argument, you have resorted to the baby killer slander that you decry and further re-enforced the lies of Vietnam against the Men (your brothers) that served.

10:32 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Paul,

First off, I'm curious. Did you serve in the military. From some of what you say one would think so, but then other times, I doubt it. No slight intended, just curious.

Now to you comment:

I didn't discover the Vietnam CONFLICT last week and I did talk to a lot of the guys who were there, during the time events took place and after.

As did I. In fact I happen to be related to a couple.

The VC had this neat little trick of strapping explosives to small children and then having them walk into a US camp. Do you shoot the kid before they get close enough to blow you up, or do you wait to find out if they are wired or not?

This is actually a good question to clarify the issue here. At that point that the enemy straps an explosive on a child, intending to use them as a weapon. As horrific as it is. The child becomes an enemy.

An order specifying "any child who approaches you should be shot" is however an unlawful order.

At that point it becomes a matter for the soldier in holding the gun to determine the risk. Obviously no soldier wants to shoot a child. Personally, if I were not sure, a reprehensible as it sounds, I'd wing the little guy and see if he blows up before getting close to him.

she reaches under the baby pulls out a grenade and wipes out you and your buddies.

At that point, the female becomes a combattant and gets her just deserts, hopefully without injuring the child, but if the child does get harm, it was not you who put him in harm's way.

There is a breaking point - one where you don't know if the bird singing across the paddy is singing or signaling, one where you can't trust anything more than the muck in your boots and the guy standing next to you.

There is indeed a "breaking point" as you indicate, but, a person is responsible for their actions regardless of whether they've reached it or not.

In your attempt to smear Kerry for the sake of a short term argument, you have resorted to the baby killer slander that you decry and further re-enforced the lies of Vietnam against the Men (your brothers) that served.

This however is not a short term argument. This is a discussion of a betrayal. John Kerry's words hurt a lot of good men. Your party's actions during that conflict was reprehensible as well. I'm speaking specifically about the "pacifist" segment of your party that spat on and accosted returning veterans. When he came home from his shortened stint in the jungles, John Kerry turned on his "brothers" (not to mention the fact that he took advantage of 3 small nicks to abandon their fellowship). It is John Kerry's actions that branded those brave men with the moniker "baby killer" and he should therefore wear it with pride and gladly accept the consequences of the actions that he confessed to.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

"There is a point to all of this. The point is a simple question, mainly directed toward my readers who are also veterans. If a soldier is given an order to shoot a baby, what action(s) should he take?

Allow me to answer this rhetorical question and you may certainly disagree, if you feel I am wrong. The answer is. First, the soldier should refuse to carry out the order. Second, the soldier is duty bound to immediately report the issuance of this unlawful order to their superior's superior officer.

Unquestionably, these would be the only available actions of not only a loyal soldier, but also those of any human being with even a rag-tag sense of decency."

Is there ever a time when you are -proven- wrong that you will admit it?

I'll add another point of proof, you cannot get help for the baby, you cannot take it with you and if left it will either die of starvation or be eaten alive by the native fauna. Does a good man leave it to that fate?

Curiousity, before I decide to give you an answer what have I said that give you the turn of this comment? "but then other times, I doubt it."

1:44 AM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:45 AM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Believe it or not, yes I will admit that I was wrong. Bringing me to that point however takes more than a statement of opinion, it takes some good corroborating evidence.

On your question regarding what statements make me wonder about your not being a veteran, one's like "you see I didn't discover the Vietnam CONFLICT last week and I did talk to a lot of the guys who were there, during the time events took place and after." leave some doubt about the matter.

you cannot get help for the baby, you cannot take it with you and if left it will either die of starvation or be eaten alive by the native fauna. Does a good man leave it to that fate?

Hard decision, but certainly a fringe case. It is however not proof that "killing anything that moves" as Kerry stated is not an illegal order that any man of conscience should have disobeyed and reported.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

"Believe it or not, yes I will admit that I was wrong. Bringing me to that point however takes more than a statement of opinion, it takes some good corroborating evidence."

I offered no opinion, I answered your question.
Not once, or twice - but three times with fact not opinion all three circumstances were real.

"If a soldier is given an order to shoot a baby, what action(s) should he take?"
"the soldier should refuse to carry out the order."

You will not admit your wrongness even in the face of valid arguement because it undermines the point you try to make using it.

10:26 AM  
Blogger The G-man said...

I offered no opinion, I answered your question.

You answered a simplified rhetorical question, posed as a summation of all the text that surrounds it. In each case, your fringe cases however came close but missed the mark of an order to kill "anything that moves", not just a baby, but every baby. The baby presented in the case of the rhetorical question was a figurative one. I know that this sort of construct is a rather complex literary device to understand for people with less than a 6th grade reading level.

Did I make a mistake? Yes I did, in thinking all of my readers were sophisticated enough to understand the use of such a literary device. I admit that by not more carefully framing the rhetorical question, it allowed some to misunderstand the meaning I was attempting to convey.

Not once, or twice - but three times with fact not opinion all three circumstances were real.

All three cases were fringe cases and if "ordered" to do so I would have told the person ordering me to do it to do the dirty work themselves. Since each situation you posed presented a case where an individual soldier is acting on his own initiative, they do not address the stipulations put for in the question. Re-read the question and notice the words "given an order".

You will not admit your wrongness even in the face of valid arguement because it undermines the point you try to make using it.

Perhaps we should allow others to comment and help us decide whether the examples you put forward constitute and "order" to kill the baby in every case regardless of the situation (and that was my intended point of the text as is proved by the inclusion of the "shooting anything that moves" quote).

11:37 AM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

Again you to insulting you opponent in a conversation when it turns on you own credibility.

I happened to have been reading at a college junior level when I was in the 6th grade and know how to read as well as anyone I have ever encountered.

You used the construct of an argument to validate your further assertaions and wrongly labeled the argument rhetorical.
Labeling it as such does not make it so when you use it as the basis for further demonstration.

If you actually want to persue your argument address the issue.
Your supposition - not Rhetorical argument did not speak of 'killing anything that moves' or differentiate between general case or fringe case.

Your new assertation that you would refuse a direct order in a combat situation would make you a candidate for summary execution on the spot.

Your other arguments for reporting it up the chain would at best get you marked as a traitor to your fellow servicemen in combat and at worst get you assigned to forward scout for the next five patrols, the last 3 or four of which you would witness from a distance inside an aluminium coffin, a lot of good that would do your honor and it would serve to instruct others that there are consequences in real time for going against the grain.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your post was pretty well written. This Paul guy just his panties in a wad because he's getting spanked and he knows it.

/Rod

2:40 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Your new assertation that you would refuse a direct order in a combat situation would make you a candidate for summary execution on the spot.

Got a cite from the UCMJ to support that contention?

You see, this is what I mean when I'm talking about you spouting nothing but opinion. You go off and say something incendiary without any sort of documentation to back up your contentions. Maybe you are just used to having people stumble all over themselves when you speak. But me, I don't know you from Adam, so your "mystique" doesn't impress me much.

I mean, I could say "The moon is made of feta cheese" and unless I provided a link to a chemical analysis that proved moon soil was indeed composed feta cheese, you'd have every right to call me a liar.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

G-,

I won't provide the links. It took too long to look them up, it should be easier for you to do so since I've done the upfront work of providing what you should have already known by knowledge if not the letter.

UCMJ Articles
90 Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer,
92 Failure to obey order or regulation,
94 Mutiny or sedition,
99 Misbehavior before the enemy
104 Aiding the enemy
They say that the order has to be legal, but unless your happy with the slim chance of being exonerated it really doesn't matter - the odds are against anyone testifying in favor of someone that risked everyone else's lives for an argument in a hostile situation.

And yes depending on circumstances a defacto courts martial as allowed by the Manual for Courts Martial can be convened on the spot through command or executive order.
Your challenge to something we both should have been true indicates that you are
(a) being argumentative for divertive purposes
(b) only trained in linear mechanized battle or
(c) uneducated in the rules of hand to hand warfare.

There are times when force must be applied from behind to drive troops forward beyond the limits a rational soldier would go for the sake of the larger mission.
It's not nice, it's not 'civilized', but it is reality.

"You see, this is what I mean when I'm talking about you spouting nothing but opinion."

Are you ready to get back to the issue you are trying to avoid? - You have insulted my education, now my knowledge but you have yet to admit that you built your sand castle in the low tide zone.

I am getting tired of your insults and diversions.

"There is a point to all of this. The point is a simple question, mainly directed toward my readers who are also veterans. If a soldier is given an order to shoot a baby, what action(s) should he take?

Allow me to answer this rhetorical question and you may certainly disagree, if you feel I am wrong. The answer is. First, the soldier should refuse to carry out the order. Second, the soldier is duty bound to immediately report the issuance of this unlawful order to their superior's superior officer.

Unquestionably, these would be the only available actions of not only a loyal soldier, but also those of any human being with even a rag-tag sense of decency.

Am I right or am I right?"
Are you right? Quit playing with structural semantics & deflections and get back to the issue.

8:09 PM  
Blogger gecko said...

Well, well, well. It's amazing how people can get caught up in their own rhetoric and esckew the underlying premise: IIRC, Kerry did not encounter any of the scenarios ppresented by Paul, so his point is moot in my opinion. I have always been dirisive of those veterans who did their four to six years so they could take advantage of the GI bill, then look down on the rest of us for "conforming to the system".

I will answer the second part of your post - IMO, Kerry would not have made a peep of dissention because it would have thrown him off his track to political stardom. I cannot comment to the possibilities of shooting babies; I do not have that type of combat experience. And I won't attest to the stories of others, because I did not share their experiences, except within some rather questionable movies. Some of Paul's comments are way off base in regards to the UCMJ; I wonder if he served at all myself; he certainly hasn't said otherwise. Paul?

9:44 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

There you go Paul!

That's what I'm talking about. Provide some meat and not just opinion.

You're going to have to give me a little while for a definitive ruling on this. I've sent the information out to a few freinds of mine who either are currently or were recently in the JAG corps. Let's see which side of the issue they come down on. Care to plae wagers?

That is really all I'm asking for from you though is; to use a colloquialism, "actionable intelligence" as opposed to simply stating something that can not be verified one way or the other.

For those on the side-lines, Paul has suggested that a person would be "shot on the spot" under the following articles of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) for not following an order to shoot a baby:

Article 90—Assaulting or willfully disobeying superior commissioned officerArticle 92—Failure to obey order or regulationArticle 94—Mutiny and seditionArticle 99—Misbehavior before the enemyArticle 104—Aiding the enemyOr am I mistaken Paul?

Sorry I'm watching my team play their Monday night game, I'll get back with my personal take on the articles you quoted in a bit (prior to hearing back from my JAG sources). In the meantime I'd like anyone who reads this, to have a look at the articles he listed and see if they would condemn a man to death on the spot for not following an order to shoot a baby.

Paul are you sure this is a fight you want to be in, especially considering you are the liberal? (not that I expect any of your "friends" to be honest enough to admit the fact that they find your response reprehensible in view of their partisanship; although they'd certainly condemn anyone else... as it would appear, only Democrats get a "get out of jail free" card for killing babies...)

I would like to know how you find this assertion defensible in view of the Geneva Conventions before I personally respond however...

(On a side, nice to know that Paul finds shooting babies worthy of defense while attacking despotic regimes that support terrorism to be a reprehensible crime.)

10:25 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Gads, the formatting on those links really sucks! I hate the way this comment system jams tagged things together!

10:36 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

Gecko?

You make some assertations about me that have no basis in fact and you expect a response?

"I have always been dirisive of those veterans who did their four to six years so they could take advantage of the GI bill, then look down on the rest of us for "conforming to the system"."
"I wonder if he served at all myself; he certainly hasn't said otherwise. Paul?"

You know nothing of my service, and your not entitled to.
Yes grew up a military brat, I am a veteran, yes I served my entire enlistment honorably 6 years and no I didn't do it for a GI Bill.
Besides the only things I got for a GI bill were a VA guarantee on a home loan, and a promise of a grave marker and a flag (if requested, and still budgeted after I'm gone).
Do you want to compare service medals, match scars, or have a spitting contest? I don't, I didn't serve to have a pecker contest with a low self esteem Jarhead years later.

I have only twice met a Marine that didn't have an opinion of himself that exceeded the genetic limits of human physiology, you don't make the number three.

Please if you have an exception to my citations on the UCMJ share them.
Wrong does not illuminate the conversation.
But then you didn't bring a very bright bulb into this conversation.

10:38 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Now it seems you are the one trading barbs. Care to mention your anti-marine senitments face to face with one (I happen to know a few if you're lacking contacts BTW)? You're not winning points with this...

10:49 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Let's stay on track though please, we are addressing Paul's contention that shooting babies is defensible, but removing Saddam from power is not...

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look paul or whatevr youre name is I served in the corps in Korea. ou cant seriously be proposing that a baby is ever a real threat. what f*cking planet do you live on?

11:00 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

G-

For the record I said "summary execution on the spot", not shot.

It must be convenient for you to be able to burden your friends in the JAG with doing your research for you.
I hope you had the honesty to put the request for information into context - The Vietnam theater (not the UCMJ and the MCM as they exist today) including presidential and command directives of the time, you did remember the MCM issue didn't you? Did you cite that the child would be assumed to be bobby trapped?

I will remind you that it is you that brought the baby killer issue into this conversation, I seriously doubt that any 'liberals' are going to attack or defend me as I am a moderate not a liberal, but you wouldn't be able to see the difference in your black and white world.
It is your contention that only evil men commit evil acts, not mine. I never did contend that is was ever ok to kill a baby that was known to be a non combatant.
I only offered an explanation of how good men could be led to do so.
Your opinion "There is indeed a "breaking point" as you indicate, but, a person is responsible for their actions regardless of whether they've reached it or not." is not valid or factual.
Do you know what the rules are today about giving information to the enemy if captured?
Do you know what that rule was during Nam?
After we pulled out, there was quite an investigation, a huge ruckus that ended up recognizing that there is a breaking point for every man and information would be given. It was reasonably determined that we should resist giving information, but that if we did we should not fabricate or lie - the new reality dictated that if a soldier was captured command would assume that everything he knew, the enemy now knew and adjust, if things were 'invented' by the prisoner they might point to a new plan or another plan that sounded reasonable and was unknown.
There are breaking points for everyone.
Returned prisoners are now to be investigated, nor arbitrarily prosecuted.

By the way - the statements I made assumed orders because yours did, they were not personal initiative events.

What about the Geneva convention 3rd or 4th and which protocols do you want to cover?
As far as I know the conventions only cover civilians that are non participants in hostilities, your generalized NEVER kill a baby does not cover those that are used as weapons in combat in the technology and conditions of the time.

Infants or other civilians turned into weapons become a weapon, there isn't a article or convention that can change that fact.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Killing innocent babies is ‘ok’ but removing Saddam or any Terrorist from power is not? I don’t buy it.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

G-

"but removing Saddam from power is not..."
That is not in the conversation and don't bring it in.

As for trading barbs with an asshole, I'll do it anyday one wants to start.
If I meat one of your Marines and they are civil, I'll return that civility - if they behave like Gecko, I'll givem the finger (and bust out thier patellae and chrush thier trachea if they insist on playing rough).

What the fuck is wrong with you guys?

Anonymous - well Korea! Let me bow down and deny fact for your benefit.

Yes Babies were bobby trapped in Nam. Are you too old to remember, or too young to have heard?

11:32 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

Angela, your out of your depth here.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

G-

I'm finished with this conversation - your contention was that there was never a valid reason to kill a baby and anyone that would do it was a monster.

You moved from that to saying that you would refuse an order to do so, even if the reason were valid, some one else would have to follow orders, you wouldn't do your duty.

You moved from there to arguing minutia of the UCMJ 2004 without regard to UCMJ 1965 - 1972.

Now you try and cloud the argument with Saddam.
I'm done - won't be back - have fun in Bozeman.

You need to get your head out of the code a bit more often. RNT

11:50 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Carter said...

Oh shiat. I didn't even realize that the vets where having a pissing contest.
I feel so left out. Look, people talk about the civil, lawful, moral actions that need to take place in a war.
Unfortunetly since war is in essence an immoral reaction, a soldier must do what is necessary to survive. Killing anyone is immoral, unethical and wrong. Yet situations arise, where it is necessary. Until a perfect world exists, these are the rules.
yes, I'm too young to have participated in Vietnam, however, I have seen what war does to people.
And as an infantry soldier I must say, we do what we can to survive. I am constantly reevaluating my position on the point of war and it's reactions, but I will always support a soldier, even if he is a jarhead. And if you want to get mad at me calling anyone a jarhead, remember, we always have ragged on each other. I am allowed that, because I did serve.

By the way Gecko, You and I have not agreed on alot, yet we listen to each other. When I was in, I saw alot that people would not agree with, when it came to the soldiers that serve. But your little point of animosity towards those who cannot afford college, is mute. They still sacrificed to serve, voluntarily!!

2:30 AM  
Blogger 1138 said...

I don't know what you are trying to argue here

I have only been trying to argue one thing, just one - this statement -If a soldier is given an order to shoot a baby, what action(s) should he take?- blanket without qualification and it's implications.
Not a political candidate and not my greatgrandmothers waist size.
You keep dragging it offtrack.

3:05 AM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Look Paul, if you would not approach every converstaion with a chip on your shoulder, then people would not return your animosity.

The very first time you responded to one of my comments, you started off with something like: "G-Man appears somewhat bright but ill-informed..." as if you have the right answer to everything. That stance is condescending and it oozes out of nearly every post you make. Get over yourself.

Now if you would like to discuss things with me, which I happen to enjoy (participating in discussions). Feel free, but expect me not to give you (or anyone for that matter) any slack. If you state something that I belive is wrong or distorted and it is not supported by some sort of evidence (i.e. a link), expect me to point out that without evidence, your contention amounts only to your opinion of the facts (which is true).

Expect me to read the information you supply as evidence and poke holes in your logic if I find descrepencies. That is how people discuss things.

You also seem to have some very thin skin! When I chide you, you go ballistic. If I chide you it is because something you've said either fails to be logical (as far as I see it) or fails to be substantiated (i.e. is just your word with no evidence to back it up). Get a little thicker skinned will you? Chiding is not necesarilly disrespectful, it is a normal technique used in conversation to emphasize a point.

Now one last point. Your constant contentions about "having to lead you to the truth" are misguided. If you bring a contention into a conversation, then it is your responsibility to substantiate it. If you can not, then the point can safely be discounted.

I will respect these guidlines in reverse as well, conversation is after all a two-way street.

If you can follow this, then great let's discuss crap, if not, feel free to ignore both my comments and my blog.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Paul G. said...

First let me say thank you. Your not beyond honor.

Excuse me for expressing the belief that my take on issues is correct until proven otherwise, if you or others view that as a chip then maybe I need to make an adjustment.

My very first words to you on a blog were "Don't judge G-Man by his picture, judge him by his words."
A defense and a compliment - you chose to take it as insult instead of by it's face message.

"as if you have the right answer to everything" check your own post my friend - or anyone in blogland for that matter.

"If you bring a contention into a conversation, then ..."
If you make a contention through starting an expect contention in response, if you want a conversation expect you opponent to try and hold you to issues and don't flip out when they refuse to be diverted.

"Chiding is not necesarilly disrespectful, it is a normal technique used in conversation to emphasize a point."

Chiding online is not as simple as it is in a verbal converstaion especially when a relationship has not been established outside the current conversation.
'Chiding; is easily and correctly interpreted as an attack more often than not and is almost universally interpreted as an attack (example your attachment to my "i'll informed" comment).
We both have skin I offer that yours in no thicker than anyone else's.

"If you can follow this, then great let's discuss crap, if not, feel free to ignore both my comments and my blog."

After encountering too many folks (of all stripes) unwilling to look at what they are reading and evaluating it with a clear head jump on the opponent for percieved alliances and intents, I have decided that Blogger is bad, not just your Blog.
I came here to understand your point of view and illuminate issues, not have an Amen or Ditto Head session. Folks I agree with are as interesting as crap.

We are seeing the pitting of Veteran against Veteran, Christian against Christian, Athiest against Athiest, Citizen agains Citizen more often than not for the sake of a sack of politically manufactued inaccuracies.
Homolies designed to pit us against each other by intent to distract us from the real issues without regard to the damage they do to the nation or history.
More harm is being done here than good.

To know the past is to see the future, to understand the past is to make the future, to ignore the past is to repeat it. I would add that to distort the past is to destroy the future.

I am finished with Blogger - in fact I'm considering abandoning Google for alternatives that are less distorted by censorship.

If a Marine cannot handle being a Jarhead, then he should have become a wingnut, squid, flyboy, grunt, or any number of nicknames we have for ourselves - I would expect a Marine to have a thicker skin - and yes they all including my relatives have a sense of inflated self - it's part of being a Marine (The Few, The Proud) - it's almost universally built in. I'm from a multi service military organization, we are all soldiers in my view.

Check that skin of yours and quit turning opponents into enemies.

Oh man, this isn't happening, it only thinks it's happening. --- Kevin Flynn Tron 1982End Program

11:44 AM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

Thanks whoever posted this link in my blog. War ethics are an interesting subject. Having never served in combat, I can only give my opinions based on human behavior.

I did, however, read the Kerry testimony, and this is the part of his testimony that came to mind when I read the passage G-Man was referring to:

"...we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from....they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Vietcong, North Vietnamese, or American."

I left some stuff out there to get to the heart of the point I was making. I recommend anyone who hasn't should read the full testimony. It is very interesting.

The reason this quote comes to mind is that I would think that having people who you think should be on your side firing on you from time to time would make people paranoid and jumpy and very prone to shoot first and ask questions later. You can talk about codes of ethics all you want, but that's called survival.

Also, it seems apparent to me that some wars are a lot uglier than others. Like with the Christmas Truce of 1914. I seriously doubt something like that could have happened in Vietnam. I mean obviously World War I was a very ugly war as well, but at least people mostly knew who they were fighting. But I think morality should somewhat flexible in terms of issues of personal safety.

If it's common place to be fired at in a free fire zone, for example, then being willing to fire is about survival. In terms of murdering babies, I don't think they are a real threat, which I believe was the point about the Mom compromising her child's safety in an offensive manner.

I think there are a lot of parallels between Iraq and Vietnam because one of the complaints in Iraq from soldiers is that they can't tell friend from foe, but they aren't supposed to take out civilians. Well, how can they know? I think it was similar scenario in Vietnam.

I think the reasoning for soldier responsibility after WWII was more in line with what happened in Abu Ghraib or the concentration camps of Germany, so that a soldier can't just hide behind the line, "I was just doing what I was told" in issues where they clearly have a choice.

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiroshima Nagasaki Dresden Trang Bang Bahgdad (Gulf 1 & now).

All times when US servicemen killed babies by order - with bullets fired by guns called airplanes & ships.

Where were the trials?

Your argument doesn't hunt G-man.

10:01 AM  
Blogger gecko said...

I am not offended. I don't know if anyone outside the Marines uses "jarhead" as a derogatory term (I guess so now) because no one ever said it to me in that way. I won't apologize for calling Paul out. My comment served it's purpose. I don't know the guy from Adam and that's the point. If you are going to be self righteous about things without providing links for proof of unsubstantiate information, at least give us a clue as to who you are and where you come from. Every post I have seen from the man has been condesending and pompous. I did not result to personal attacks, however. Please excuse me if I'm the only one to see this.
For Carter; check. My only beef with those who join for the benefits is that they need to be made aware of the possibilities of service beyond garrison; i.e. multiple tours in Iraq, etc. If you want to blame someone for our overextended military blame Bill Clinton. He is the one who cut the military up. War sucks; it's true. But that's our job. Quotes like "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" and "Freedom isn't free" come to mind.
Goodbye, Paul. Thanks for all the memories...

1:10 AM  
Blogger 1138 said...

Gecko,

You say; I did not result to personal attacks, however.

Really? I have always been dirisive of those veterans

That sure looks and sounds like a personal attack.

What gives you the -right- to walk in and demand personal histories and credentials?

G-Man, I'll accept it from, it's his Blog and he did aim the question at Veterans AND others.
G was polite "No slight intended, just curious."
I think my reply indicated the answer - asking why he asked about doubts. If he were interested he could have continued the query.

I don't preface my existance with my military status - my service was first for country and not for self.
But it's a matter of personal choice, I respect the right of other veterans who chose to do so.
They should be as respectful of mine without casting derision for the choice.
My profile does not indicate that I am a veteran because in my mind I am a citizen first a veteran second. When I was enlisted I was a serviceman first and a citizen second.

I never indicated in any way that I look down on other veterans, perhaps individuals, especially those who choose to slam my service because we disagree.

UnVeteran/UnAmerican huh? Turn your paintbrush in some other direction - I'm not your target.
And your not a bad Marine, just an offensive person.

12:02 PM  
Blogger gecko said...

Paul, you are damned right I don't agree with your views, but I think you are over offended by what I realize was a mistake. I had placed my "dirisive" comment directly after a comment to you, but only the comment about wondering if you have served was intended for you. It was a poor choice of words to begin with. I should be grateful for every veteran that served his or her full contract regardless of where and when they served.

I thought you were through with Blogger? If not you are welcome to disagree with me over at my blog as well.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

Well I noticed that you all went totally away from the topic at hand and that was obeying and disobeying lawful and unlawful orders.

Paul lists the UCMJ very handily I might add, and reflects upon the points that indicate that a soldier can be shot on the spot for disobeying an order.

Obviously, the UCMJ does provide for summary executions having convened, allegedly, an appropriate court martial procedure, persuant to the UCMJ. however, he makes it a conjecture that it COULD happen. It did during world war I and world war II. By Korea, those types of actions by officers, even on the front lines, were becoming extinct because the post application of UCMJ codes of conduct for an officer became too risky. The officer could find himself court martialed for not performing proper procedure and be found as a murderer instead of a judge and executioner. The risk factor being to great, it was more common for the soldier to be sent back to HQ or base to await proper court martial procedures. In which case, it did not negate the fact that the soldier could be court martialed, but executions were still not routine by any means. Imprisonment was the usual punishment.

In regards to Viet Nam, not being there, I cannot speak authoritatively of the actions of officers in the field, but I would hazard an opinion that the same risk factors of the officer being tried for the murder of an enlisted man for failure to convene proper court martial procedures were probably the same if not more so, than the officers risk in Korea, considering the times.

Seeing as how Paul was not there either, regardless of siting the UCMJ and his own service not withstanding, he cannot speak any more authoritatively on this subject than I or G. one then would have to ask for more than hypothetical conjectures as proof that this occured.

Further, and to the point of G's post, what we have here is a question of morality and can one's morality be subjugated to the conflict of the moment as Paul and Carter have asserted. The answer is obviously yes, as anyone growing up in America with a decent background would have been taught that killing someone is bad and a soldier must overcome that first instinct if he is to serve and survive. However, it seems from the soldiers that I've talked to personally from Iraq, that many are able to sort out the "nuances" of morality in certain actions. Even reading the stories from world war II, to Korea, viet nam, Somalia, etc, it is evident when faced with a grown man with a weapon, the morality is less ambigous. It is "kill or be killed". But when it came to young boys who could not even shave but had a gun, the GIs in every war had to question the brutality of the action they would be forced to take.

In essence, G's thesis is correct. It is one thing to be given an order to take the young and line them up near a ditch and shoot them on the order of your superior. Anyone who follows that order deserves the fate of the Mai Lai perpetrators. And don't give me any ambiguous morality clap trap about what might happen if one did not follow the order. it is not lawful combat and it loses any form of morality thereafter. Participation in such an endeavor and reasoning that you participated in such an action in order to "survive" means you are a criminal, plain and simple.

If the same boy is in a phalanx of men attacking your position and firing a weapon, he is now a legal combatant and an order to shoot him is lawful. If, for your own sake of morality, you choose not to, then you can be subject to UCMJ. However, I would like to see any cases sited (and G might be able to provide) any occassion that a soldier was tried and convicted for failing to follow that order. Even if such incidents occured and were prosecuted, one would then have to think that the person being prosecuted would be satisfied with protecting his own morality and taking the punishment, which again, i hazard to guess, did not result in the sort of summary execution that Paul alludes to.

Interstingly, as I look at the comments of Paul and Carter, while they protest the moral ambiguity of being ordered into a combat situation where they might have to take such action, they personally hold on to that ambiguity as a negation of their own morality and responsibility. In essence, using the Nuremberg degense after all "I was ordered to do it".

That in itself, is strange. While they attempt to hold the government responsible for these actions, they abdicate their own responsibility. That is what you call "moral relavitism".

1:15 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

Too many words, could you Bush size that commentary?

4:34 PM  
Blogger The G-man said...

Here's a "Bush size" comment for you. That pretty much discredits your "execution on the spot" contention. I particularly liked where it said "Date of last military execution ... April 13, 1961". Kind of takes the wind out of the sails of your claim now doesn't it Paul?

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the eyes of the law, a baby or small child would never considered a party to combat. I say this in accordance with Additional Protocol I, Part IV of the Geneva Conventions (Convention IV of 12 August 1949). As such it is a soldier's responsibility to protect that person from harm in so far as it does not endanger the soldier's life to do so.

The next issue is the claim that a soldier could be summarily executed "on the spot". Perhaps the person raising this contention is unaware of Article 15 of the UCMJ. Article 15 imposes limits on the types and severity of punishments that can be meted out without the issue being heard before the members of a court martial. This article was changed, removing a commander's right to convene an ad hoc court martial in the 1890's following the Civil War. Therefore, any commander who convened an ad hoc court martial and executed a prisoner would himself be guilty of murder by reason of depriving the accused of his right to due process.

The last thing I'd like to address is the supposition that battle fatigue in some way shields a soldier from prosecution. According to the law it does not. It might allow the individual's attorney to use an insanity plea when defending the case; however. A finding of innocence by reason of insanity would forestall the application of capital punishment but would also involve an admission of guilt. The soldier in question would not simply walk free; they would be remanded to the care of a psychiatric facility until such time as they are deemed to not present a danger to society at large.

This is only my perspective on the issues presented here, but that perspective is based my years of service in the JAG corps.

1:59 PM  
Blogger gecko said...

Finally, in anonymous and Kat, the voice of reason. So to the end point of it all, vote for Bush, not Kerry. Did I get the last word? Since this is archived now, maybe. This is such a demanding post, though, I'll come back and see later.

11:45 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

G-,

To borrow one of your favorite phrases non sequitur.

It does not logically follow that because something did not happen that it could not happen.

11:06 AM  
Blogger The G-man said...

It does not logically follow that because something did not happen that it could not happen.

In that contention you would perhaps be correct, but it does render it far less likely to occur. I have no doubt that a commander could go rogue and execute someone -but- his actions would not be supported by law and he would himself then be the criminal.

12:20 PM  
Blogger 1138 said...

Well,

Anonymous makes some good points, but the fact is that it can't be proven that a courts martial could not be conviened in the field using radio- but honestly I'm tired of the quibbing over the issue and I'll grant the point.

However the incidents of fragging in Nam do provide creedence to my argument that a soldier percieved as a problem by other soldiers stood a good chance of not coming back.

Kat, I'm not performing some sort of moral escapism.
I'm trying to address realities, not high moral theory.
I helped in the planning to kill millions knowing the result on non combatants in the target areas and beyond.
It's all a moral issue I had to deal with a long time ago.

My point here was that it's way past time for recriminations over Vietnam - all recriminations,
and that Vietnam in many ways was a unique situation that we need to learn from, not use to make political fodder of.

7:15 PM  

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