PH100 Lecture Notes

I was just following orders whats the point of

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“I was just following orders.” What's the point of military training? “Military training takes as a primary objective the inculcating of reflexive obedience to superior orders” (41) Soldiers are trained to obey orders Soldiers should then be excused for criminal liability for conduct if they were merely following orders (this is in agreement with international law) Exception: they will be held liable During combat, soldiers are not in a position to always determine what is manifestly illegal Applying the argument: My Lai Problem for Doris and Murphy: US forces drew no significant enemy fire. The conditions of My Lai were not the typical “hot” combat conditions. Response: “...the influence of military power structures is not limited to instances of direct command..Armies consist of individual strained to function in accordance with regulations and training, with or without explicit orders, in ways consistent with the norms and ideology of a particular military subculture. Soldiers will often be under very considerable pressure to conform to their subculture..” (42- 3) At My Lai, the given orders were ambiguous and interpreted in different ways. There was political pressure for evidence of military effectiveness: “If it's dead and Vietnamese, it's Viet Cong” “Given the war-fighting culture in Vietnam, we are inclined to think that any orders to kill civilians at My Lai may not have appeared, from the perspective of the soldiers in the field , to be 'manifestly illegal'” (45) Conclusion: combination of war-fighting culture, racialization, and poor command supervision are sufficiently cognitively degrading to constitute excusing conditions soldiers at My Lai could not have been reasonable expected to make the requisite determination of manifest illegality Extending the Argument: Abu Ghraib Does Doris and Murphy's argument apply to atrocities other than homicides? Potential issue: The abuses were not part of combat operations The perpetrators, therefore, were not under the cognitive pressure of combat environments Conditions at prison were stressful While the stress at Abu Ghraib wasn't negligible, ti isn't enough to excuse the abuses committed Still, Doris and Murphy hold that...
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First point: The perpetrators at Abu Ghraib “genuinely did not think that they were doing wrong” (47) Doris and Murphy's justification: otherwise they wouldn't have posed and Second point: The definition of torture was narrowed: all kinds of abuses would thus not count as torture “[c]ertain acts way be cruel, inhuman, or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intensity to fall within proscription against torture” Conclusion: It is likely that perpetrators at Abu Ghraib did not think that their acts were manifestly illegal.
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