When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#61  Postby Weaver » Aug 21, 2012 5:10 pm

Yeah, that about sums it up ...
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#62  Postby savedbygrace92 » Aug 27, 2012 5:12 pm

I agree with your input on if a soldier is ordered to commit genocide. I would say that they can refuse an order if it threatens the lives of the troop you are in or if it threatens innocent civilians. I don't know if you've seen the show M*A*S*H*, but there is an episode where a soldier was wounded very badly because his commander ordered the troop to make a very dangerous decision.

So basically, if it's obvious that more than one life is threatened (a troop or civilians), you should refuse it.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#63  Postby The_Metatron » Aug 27, 2012 7:17 pm

Have you ever served?
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#64  Postby Weaver » Aug 27, 2012 9:42 pm

Sometimes combat leaders have to give orders which threaten the lives of their subordinate Soldiers, or could even almost certainly lead to some of them dying, in order to accomplish their combat mission.

It's a really sad thing, I admit - but in war sometimes you have to lead your Soldiers to do things that can get them killed. And sometimes you have to get one killed in order to save many more.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#65  Postby Shantanu » Dec 03, 2012 8:45 pm

Depends on the nature of recruitment into the armed forces

In states where there is freedom to choose whether to enrol into the armed forces, that is to say that there is no conscription or compulsory military service so that it is a wholly professional army in which the soldiers are simply earning their incomes or showing their patriotic duties from their service, the soldier must obey all orders as passed down to him by his superiors and cannot have any moral grounds for not following any of the orders.

In states that have conscription or compulsory military service a soldier must always have the right not to take part in specific military excercises by the provisions of a Human Rights Act or a Bill of Rights or the Constitution that would enable the person to express his conscientious objection to killing or to the use of warfare as the means to resolving a particular dispute.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#66  Postby The_Metatron » Dec 03, 2012 9:34 pm

Bollocks.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#67  Postby Weaver » Dec 04, 2012 1:09 am

Agreed. Complete bollocks.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#68  Postby Thommo » Dec 04, 2012 1:43 am

Which part of what he said is bollocks? The bit about conscripts, or the bit about professionals?
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#69  Postby Weaver » Dec 04, 2012 1:54 am

Both.

Professionals have a duty to refuse illegal orders.

Conscripts have a duty to follow lawful orders, regardless of whether they personally approve of each and every operation or not. While they should have the right of declaring themselves overconscientious objectors, that goes for all service, not individual operations.

If they don't like being conscripts, they need to work within their national political system to end the practice. We did.

EDIT - I meant "conscientious objectors" - I had no intent to type "over" in, and can only surmise poor use of a spell checker inserted it. My apologies to anyone offended by my error here.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#70  Postby Thommo » Dec 04, 2012 2:14 am

Weaver wrote:Both.

Professionals have a duty to refuse illegal orders.


Fair enough.

Weaver wrote:Conscripts have a duty to follow lawful orders, regardless of whether they personally approve of each and every operation or not. While they should have the right of declaring themselves overconscientious objectors, that goes for all service, not individual operations.

If they don't like being conscripts, they need to work within their national political system to end the practice. We did.


Is that an intentional use of a perjorative term for conscientious objectors, or unintentional?

I definitely don't agree with you on this, but it doesn't seem worth arguing as neither your country nor mine has conscription at the present.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#71  Postby Weaver » Dec 04, 2012 2:19 am

That was unintentional - not sure at all how the "over" crept in. Thanks for noting it.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#72  Postby Thommo » Dec 04, 2012 2:23 am

Weaver wrote:That was unintentional - not sure at all how the "over" crept in. Thanks for noting it.


Fair enough. :cheers:
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#73  Postby Shantanu » Dec 04, 2012 8:32 am

Weaver wrote:Both.

Professionals have a duty to refuse illegal orders.

Conscripts have a duty to follow lawful orders, regardless of whether they personally approve of each and every operation or not. While they should have the right of declaring themselves overconscientious objectors, that goes for all service, not individual operations.

If they don't like being conscripts, they need to work within their national political system to end the practice. We did.

EDIT - I meant "conscientious objectors" - I had no intent to type "over" in, and can only surmise poor use of a spell checker inserted it. My apologies to anyone offended by my error here.


Professional servicemen join the army to take orders from the government. In a democratic decision making process they carry out the duties of the goverment elected by the people. It is their contractual duty in employment to do as they are told. If they do not like any of the orders, they must leave the armed forces immediately and seek other professions, or the government must sack them. Otherwise the government and the people would be paying them for sitting idle and doing nothing for the money they get. Courts should dismiss their application for determining the lawfulness of the actions that they are required to do because the government cannot afford the wastage of time and resources fighting court cases when it is on a warfooting for the implementation of military action. Professional soldiers are therefore professional order takers. They must do as they are told and fulfill the terms of their contract of service.

Conscripted soldiers are forced against their will to carry out the work of the government to take risks with their lives and kill other people and destroy property. That is against the person's human rights. No one should be forced to destroy life and nature against their will. They should be protected by the provision of legal safeguards that force them to carry out duties against their conscience. The details of their conscientious objections for carrying out certain duties is a matter for them and not for the courts or government to decide the rights and wrongs of.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#74  Postby Nicko » Dec 04, 2012 9:15 am

Just to go back to the case study raised by AlohaChris:

AlohaChris wrote:Lieutenant Ehren Watada (US Army) refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006 because he believed that the war was illegal. He stated that under the doctrine of 'command responsibility' that participating in the war would make him party to war crimes.

He tried to resign, but the Army denied his request. He argued that it was unlawful for him to deploy because:

1) The Iraq war violated the Constitution, The War Powers Act, UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Principles, which "bar wars of aggression" and argued that 'command responsibility' would make him personally responsible for violating international law.

2) He also argued that the war was based on lies, such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the 'links' between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Watada specifically said that he was not a conscientious objector and was not opposed to all wars as a matter of principle, and offered to serve in Afghanistan. The Army refused and instead offered him a desk job in Iraq without combat duties, which Watada refused.

He was Court-Martialed in 2007, but the trial ended in a mistrial. The Army, realizing it would likely lose again in court, honorably discharged Watada in 2009.


I have to say that I disagree with this guy's position. If he genuinely believed that the Bush Administration had abandoned law to the degree he claimed, then his only ethical option would have been to refuse to follow any orders at all. If one believes that the chain of command is rotten from the top down, one cannot ethically serve in the military. At all.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#75  Postby Shantanu » Dec 04, 2012 10:16 am

Nicko wrote:Just to go back to the case study raised by AlohaChris:

AlohaChris wrote:Lieutenant Ehren Watada (US Army) refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006 because he believed that the war was illegal. He stated that under the doctrine of 'command responsibility' that participating in the war would make him party to war crimes.

He tried to resign, but the Army denied his request. He argued that it was unlawful for him to deploy because:

1) The Iraq war violated the Constitution, The War Powers Act, UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Principles, which "bar wars of aggression" and argued that 'command responsibility' would make him personally responsible for violating international law.

2) He also argued that the war was based on lies, such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the 'links' between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Watada specifically said that he was not a conscientious objector and was not opposed to all wars as a matter of principle, and offered to serve in Afghanistan. The Army refused and instead offered him a desk job in Iraq without combat duties, which Watada refused.

He was Court-Martialed in 2007, but the trial ended in a mistrial. The Army, realizing it would likely lose again in court, honorably discharged Watada in 2009.


I have to say that I disagree with this guy's position. If he genuinely believed that the Bush Administration had abandoned law to the degree he claimed, then his only ethical option would have been to refuse to follow any orders at all. If one believes that the chain of command is rotten from the top down, one cannot ethically serve in the military. At all.


It is a pity that more Watadas did not do the same as him and force the issue on a mass scale to bring the US Bush Administration to its knees for its supposed abandonment of law with respect to the Iraq war. Because it was just the odd case the Army disposed off the matter with his discharge in 2009. What would the Army have done if 100 people had refused to serve like Watada did? Will they all have been honourably discharged?
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#76  Postby Nicko » Dec 04, 2012 10:32 am

Watada did not refuse to serve. He was quite willing to serve in a military that he believed had a criminal for a commander-in-chief. As long as he could pick which country he was deployed to.

Doesn't work that way. If you do not trust the chain of command, you cannot ethically be a soldier.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#77  Postby Shantanu » Dec 04, 2012 10:49 am

Nicko wrote:Watada did not refuse to serve. He was quite willing to serve in a military that he believed had a criminal for a commander-in-chief. As long as he could pick which country he was deployed to.

Doesn't work that way. If you do not trust the chain of command, you cannot ethically be a soldier.

If Watada claims that he did not know that US imperialism never concerned itself with the legality/lawfulness of most of the wars that it engaged in or supported such that US administrations had a history of fighting wars on idealogical or political grounds, he joined the US army with the correct motivation but was also right in taking the step by refusing to serve in Iraq but offering to go to Afghanistan instead. If he knew what US stood for from studying history, he was not right to refuse service in Iraq.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#78  Postby Nicko » Dec 04, 2012 11:02 am

Shantanu wrote:If Watada claims that he did not know that US imperialism never concerned itself with the legality/lawfulness of most of the wars that it engaged in or supported such that US administrations had a history of fighting wars on idealogical or political grounds, he joined the US army with the correct motivation but was also right in taking the step by refusing to serve in Iraq but offering to go to Afghanistan instead. If he knew what US stood for from studying history, he not right to refuse service.


Reread the grounds upon which his refusal to deploy was based. He based his refusal to deploy on the grounds that his commander-in-chief was a liar who had launched an illegal war. That is not a reason to refuse to deploy. It is a reason to declare oneself no longer able to serve.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#79  Postby Shantanu » Dec 04, 2012 11:33 am

Nicko wrote:
Shantanu wrote:If Watada claims that he did not know that US imperialism never concerned itself with the legality/lawfulness of most of the wars that it engaged in or supported such that US administrations had a history of fighting wars on idealogical or political grounds, he joined the US army with the correct motivation but was also right in taking the step by refusing to serve in Iraq but offering to go to Afghanistan instead. If he knew what US stood for from studying history, he not right to refuse service.


Reread the grounds upon which his refusal to deploy was based. He based his refusal to deploy on the grounds that his commander-in-chief was a liar who had launched an illegal war. That is not a reason to refuse to deploy. It is a reason to declare oneself no longer able to serve.

I would say that the bottom line is if the war in Iraq at the time that it was launched was supported by more than 50 percent of the people of the USA it was a legal war for which Watada had a legally binding duty to fight.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#80  Postby electricwhiteboy » Dec 04, 2012 11:42 am

Shantanu wrote:
Nicko wrote:
Shantanu wrote:If Watada claims that he did not know that US imperialism never concerned itself with the legality/lawfulness of most of the wars that it engaged in or supported such that US administrations had a history of fighting wars on idealogical or political grounds, he joined the US army with the correct motivation but was also right in taking the step by refusing to serve in Iraq but offering to go to Afghanistan instead. If he knew what US stood for from studying history, he not right to refuse service.


Reread the grounds upon which his refusal to deploy was based. He based his refusal to deploy on the grounds that his commander-in-chief was a liar who had launched an illegal war. That is not a reason to refuse to deploy. It is a reason to declare oneself no longer able to serve.

I would say that If the war in Iraq at the time that it was launched was supported by more than 50 percent of the people of the USA it was a legal war.


What? :what:

The legality of a war is not decided by its popularity with the electorate.
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