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

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

#1  Postby Juliuseizure » Jun 15, 2011 11:29 pm

Are western soldiers allowed to refuse to deploy on specific wars, or under specific political parties? Presumably there is some point where a soldier can reclaim their autonomy on ethical grounds, if, for instance, commanded to commit genocide.

I seriously considered recruiting to the navy at one point but I didn't support the majority of my government's deployments so was uncomfortable signing away autonomy. Perhaps there's much more to it than that though.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#2  Postby Weaver » Jun 15, 2011 11:44 pm

American Soldiers are expected and required to refuse to obey illegal orders.

They are not permitted to pick and choose which wars they fight in, or under which administrations.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#3  Postby Gallstones » Jun 15, 2011 11:58 pm

I told you the answer would be easy.



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

#4  Postby Juliuseizure » Jun 16, 2011 12:00 am

But wasn't the Iraq war illegal switchblade?
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#5  Postby Gallstones » Jun 16, 2011 12:06 am

Switchblade?

Is that word on the inflammatory list?
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#6  Postby Grimstad » Jun 16, 2011 12:20 am

Gallstones wrote:Switchblade?

Is that word on the inflammatory list?

I can tell, you're going to have a lot of fun with this aren't you?..:rofl:

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

#7  Postby SafeAsMilk » Jun 16, 2011 12:40 am

Gallstones wrote:Switchblade?

Is that word on the inflammatory list?


Strawberry Switchblade certainly should be, what an awful band name. Really grinds my gears.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#8  Postby Juliuseizure » Jun 16, 2011 12:41 am

Off topic words/paragraphs/sentences/syllables will be removed by moderators.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#9  Postby SafeAsMilk » Jun 16, 2011 12:52 am

Hey, question's been answered. IBTL
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#10  Postby Juliuseizure » Jun 16, 2011 12:54 am

This isn't site feedback; the mods don't need to worry about it.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#11  Postby Juliuseizure » Jun 16, 2011 1:06 am

aaaaaaaaLawhuakba. Sharia (law) is what is opposed over here, because the law is the real authority.

Is the UN's Law superior to the US's law then? I guess it should be, but is not. I don't know why.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#12  Postby AlohaChris » Jun 16, 2011 1:37 am

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.
Last edited by AlohaChris on Jun 16, 2011 1:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#13  Postby Gallstones » Jun 16, 2011 1:39 am

Grimstad wrote:
Gallstones wrote:Switchblade?

Is that word on the inflammatory list?

I can tell, you're going to have a lot of fun with this aren't you?..:rofl:


I don't know what you are talking about. And it is shameful of you to tempt me into making an OT post.

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

#14  Postby Juliuseizure » Jun 16, 2011 1:44 am

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.


Shame he wasn't caucasian. Hiroshima hangover central...or not.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#15  Postby AlohaChris » Jun 16, 2011 1:45 am

He's a very bright, principled local boy from Honolulu, HI.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#16  Postby Gallstones » Jun 16, 2011 1:46 am

Juliuseizure wrote:This isn't site feedback; the mods don't need to worry about it.



Humor is permitted and to be appreciated.
The mods do it all the time. That is the stamp of approval.



When I was in Basic, I was given a very pointed lesson regarding this issue. It was as Weaver has said above.
Even so, it is no guarantee that refusing an unlawful order might not still get you in hot water. Unfortunately.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#17  Postby lordshipmayhem » Jun 16, 2011 3:47 am

I was taught the same in Basic with the Canadian Forces: you do not have to obey an unlawful order. Unfortunately, my instructors were incredibly vague as to what constitutes an unlawful order under the Canadian military rules and regulations.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#18  Postby trubble76 » Jun 16, 2011 10:36 am

I think the problem comes from who gets to decide what is illegal and what isn't.
Can US servicemen refuse to waterboard captives?
Most countries agree that it is torture, and the US even hanged some Japanese POWs for the crime of waterboarding, so it seems that legality is largely ignored anyway.
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#19  Postby tuco » Jun 16, 2011 10:44 am

Anyone here would waterboard captives if it was legal everywhere?
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Re: When is it permissible for a soldier to refuse an order?

#20  Postby Weaver » Jun 16, 2011 12:30 pm

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 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.

A mistrial is not a loss.
The decision to not re-try is not an assessment of liklihood of future loss, but an assessment of the difficulty in ensuring a win.

Sometimes it's just plain cheaper to stop fighting. But that isn't the same as admitting a loss.

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