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May 31, 2010

Comments

alphie -- We wuz just following orders isn't much of a defense.

Letting soldiers escape the blame for their immoral acts just allows more of them to happen.

I think we need to be careful in how we discuss these cases. If the soldiers in question were a) acting within the ROE for the mission and b) not in control of their destination and c) were informed that what they were doing was perfectly legal then it seems the blame should fall upon the person who authorized the mission and the ROE. The soldiers involved would not be in any position to make determinations about legality or morality apart from the details they are given.

Which is to say, I think that the legal standard established at Nuremberg places these soldiers in a position of moral responsibility that they cannot fairly exercise. They are too dependent on the judgments and info of others to be responsible for determining the legality of their actions under duress. Their reactions are too heavily conditioned for rational response. They essentially become tools with a very limited set of responses available to them. Legal sanction should fall on the person who set these blunt force tools in motion.

It'll never happen, but it's how I think things should be.

And FWIW, I have just written to William Hague, via the Amnesty International UK website, to urge a full investigation into this incident. I have pointed out that this is a military attack by Israeli forces on a fellow NATO member, and that there were UK citizens aboard the flotilla.

I have hopes that if enough of us write to him (you could do so without being a British citizen or even resident in the UK) the British government at least will not engage in whatever denial or coverup that the US will let Israel get away with.

Which is to say, I think that the legal standard established at Nuremberg places these soldiers in a position of moral responsibility that they cannot fairly exercise. They are too dependent on the judgments and info of others to be responsible for determining the legality of their actions under duress.

I think you make an excellent point. Where I disagree is where you limit the scope of your analysis to the instant that soldiers receive their orders. These are commandos. They are elite soldiers. They did not just appear instantly there. They made a series of choices throughout their lives that implicitly affirmed their trust in the Israeli government's ability to make moral decisions. Looking over recent history, we can see that the Israeli government likes to send its forces to commit war crimes.

We probably cannot hold a draftee responsible for serving in an army that tends to commit war crimes. But things are different for a veteran who makes a choice to reenlist, who chooses to make the military his career. Professional Israeli soldiers who did not exercise their option to leave the service after the 2006 Lebanon war are implicitly saying "I have confidence in the moral decision making of the Israeli government regarding military force". Once you make that kind of statement, I think you should be held responsible for war crimes that you're ordered to commit. A decision to reenlist is not made under duress; it is not made hastily, in the blink of an eye; it is not a life or death decision.

"Did no one foresee the possibility that this plan, such as it was, might end badly? "

When I read this, it sudden occurred to me that BP must have been suffering from the same malady. I wonder if this isn't some innate kind of hubris affecting the conservative community? Like, "My cause is so right, nothing can go wrong."

Von: Did no one foresee the possibility that this plan, such as it was, might end badly?

Don't you feel like a fool now, Von? The plan didn't end badly. The flotilla was stopped, so the concentration camp inmates won't get the supplies: the US has been forced to clarify to NATO allies that yes, Israel will be supported over any mere North Atlantic Treaty nation that presumes to want to relieve the suffering of Israel's subject population; and Israeli defence forces suffered minimal casualties in doing so.

Looks like the plan, such as it was, was a win, win, win.

Going to update your post to concede that?

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