"I was just following orders"

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by KnightWriter, Jan 15, 2005.

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  1. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    The issue here is that you seem to try and make reality bend to your sole perception. I've noticed this in your other posts as well.

    I've noticed that your concept of reality is based on the official party line of Bush and company. If you want to call that reality, I feel truly sorry for you. My concerns are debatable, and you like your leader conceit to know that they are not. The question here is not whether immoral things are legal. We know they are. It is whether a human individual has the right under God to deny immoral commands, a right that trumps any rights given to them by country. Perhaps not legally, but even under the professed rights of oppressed people in other countries - rights professed by the president, yet inexplicably not given to his own people. We punish and kill those who follow Saddam's immoral orders, yet we deal the same retribution to those of our own country who do not follow Bush's immoral orders during wartime. Suffer consequences our troops will if they refuse, but I am speaking against "the law" in this case, which you have no concept of unless it suits a right wing agenda.

    If you truly believe that soldiers can get out that easily through legal avenues, you should read their stories. CO status is not granted until service is over these days. What's the point of that?
  2. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I've noticed that your concept of reality is based on the official party line of Bush and company.

    Dude, I would be interested to see what you base this assertion on.

    You claimed that the enlistment contract was vague and hard to understand.

    I discussed what the enlistment contract actually says.

    You claimed that 17 year olds are flocking to the military and being taken advantage of.

    I discussed the reality of the age make-up of new recruits.

    You indicated that people are "indefinately" tied to the military.

    I discussed the procedures that the military has, as they actually exist.

    None of the above are dependent on Bush, or any President for that matter.

    If you think examining an actual military contract is "towing the party line," I don't know what else to say.

    I'm sorry that reality doesn't fit with your perception, I am really am. Wouldn't it be great if we could all bend reality to what we want it to be?

    But that's not how the world operates.



  3. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    I am arguing a) that some level of misleading is present, not in the text, but the tactics used in some recruiting stations. b) There are 17 year olds (I never said how many) with little education who join and in my opinion are taken advantage of c) I have to go to lunch d) I'll take this up later, bye

    In brief, the fact that you think it is an open and closed case and the unusually unnecessary act of aggression by the US does not lead to a valid debate over whether soldiers should in the future have the right to refuse deployment shows that some of Bush's supporters not only hide behind paper to validate their moral justifications, but in fact ignore the moral aspect altogether in service of promoting the party's overall goals.
  4. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Right. Because we all hide behind "paper" in order to feel better about ourselves.

    It's been brought up before, but maybe I'll share with you some of my background.

    I spent over 5 years in the US Army. However, before I joined, I compared the services, researched what I wanted to do, had a basic idea of what I wanted (even after the military)and then talked with a recruiter.

    I was accepted for military intelligence training, received a degree in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute, and was deployed numerous times.

    I also used the enhanced GI Bill to finish my history degree once I finished my enlistment, and was eligible for prefence points for my current career.

    I asked questions, and had a plan in mind. The key is, and this applies to anything, I made the most out of my time served.

    I was deployed to Honduras, away from my family, where we supported some operations there.

    Guess what-Clinton was President.

    In Korea, where I spent 12 months, still away from my family, I was stop-moved the first time. I didn't get to go home exactly when I wanted, because the North and the South started shooting at each other over shrimp-fishing rights.

    Guess what? Clinton was still President.

    I was also deployed to Bosnia for 7 months, again away from my family, where I was hit with an old RPG round that exploded. I still have the two scars, some years later. I was also stop-lossed the second time, which extended my original enlistment. (which is why I served slightly longer than 5 years.)

    Guess what? yep, still Clinton.

    Who can I blame for all the above?

    Can I make wild accusations about Clinton, claiming he sent me to possibly fight in actions that didn't concern me?

    Can I blame Clinton's SecDef for stop-lossing me, not once, but twice?

    Can I claim, dishonestly, that my recruiter never told me I would be sent overseas so often?

    I made the choice to join the military. I signed on the dotted line and took the oath of service.

    And most importantly, I completed my enlistment to the best of my ability.

    And I would still do it all over again.

    Maybe the issue here is that there are people who have been in the exact same situation and can look at their experiences from that framework.

    It's easy for you to blame Bush for everything, or dismiss those who disagree with you as "mindless Bush supporters." However, there is a constant here.

    What you are missing is the fact that these policies and procedures were in place long before this President, and they will continue long after he is out of office.

  5. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    I spent over 5 years in the US Army. However, before I joined, I compared the services, researched what I wanted to do, had a basic idea of what I wanted (even after the military)and then talked with a recruiter.

    Excellent, but this doesn't support the idea that soldiers should follow immoral commands. Graner's "I was just following orders" defense was ignored by the judge, just as it was in Nuremberg. I am arguing specifically for a soldier's right to disobey immoral orders, even if they just decide that killing is immoral after being in the military a number of years and being well informed before joining, but especially when overwhelming evidence supports the violence as unjustified.

    I was accepted for military intelligence training, received a degree in Arabic from the Defense Language Institute, and was deployed numerous times.

    I also used the enhanced GI Bill to finish my history degree once I finished my enlistment, and was eligible for prefence points for my current career.

    I asked questions, and had a plan in mind. The key is, and this applies to anything, I made the most out of my time served.


    Did you make the most out of it because you chose to, or because you had to? If you chose to, as you claim, then you wouldn't know how it feels to be so morally opposed to your orders that you could not justify to yourself anything but disobedience.

    I was deployed to Honduras, away from my family, where we supported some operations there.

    Guess what-Clinton was President.


    And if a soldier under Clinton decided they couldn't go, I would support them too. You might have missed that I already posted that I know it isn't Bush's policy, but it is a policy that is exceedingly unfair given the current situation under Bush. The war is clearly immoral to so many people and troops, that the question of a "Nuremberg defense" or the "I was just following orders" excuse is very serious one to consider. The court has ruled that a soldier should not follow immoral orders. Since the war in Iraq is arguably immoral, a hard case can not be made against giving troops the freedom to choose whether they go to Iraq. There is precedent set now that following orders in Iraq could very well lead to your own imprisonment here in the states.

    In Korea, where I spent 12 months, still away from my family, I was stop-moved the first time. I didn't get to go home exactly when I wanted, because the North and the South started shooting at each other over shrimp-fishing rights.

    Guess what? Clinton was still President.


    Again, I pick on Bush rather than Clinton because it is so easy to argue with Iraq as an example. The majority of the people who the law serves believe that Iraq is a huge mistake. I believe the military should be voluntary throughout, not just at the initial signing. A very progressive government would have to change this policy, but I believe it should be done, given that we have seen what can happen when an abusive president takes charge. We saw it in Vietnam. We should have learned by now that soldiers should have the same rights as police officers.

    I was also deployed to Bosnia for 7 months, again away from my family, where I was hit with an old RPG round that exploded. I still have the two scars, some years later. I was also stop-lossed the second time, which extended my original enlistment. (which is why I served slightly longer than 5 years.)

    Guess what? yep, still Clinton.

    Who can I blame for all the above?


    Given your pride in said actions, I don't think you feel the need to blame anyone. It was your choice. Good thing the law didn't conflict with your wishes. I think there are enough people like you to serve when needed. Not only that, but if staying in was voluntary, the government couldn't use troops for anything they wanted. They would have to wait until there was actually some kind of threat that would lead young people to choose to sign up. And more people would sign up because there would be less unneccesary combat in the first pla
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Well, you offered a differing perspective, at least I see some common ground.

    That said, what do people expect when joining the military?

    Like my previous analogy, a person shouldn't join a police force, and then be utterly surprised when they have to arrest someone.

    The military has an established tenent, that illegal orders are invalid, and don't have to be followed.

    The criteria that defines an illegal order is the law itself, not an individual's interpretation of what they like or don't like.

    Maybe I'm not following, but I'd be interested to see how you think an "all volunteer military every step of the way" would function.

    If a platoon Sgt sets the guard rotation, a soldier can refuse if he doesn't want to pull guard duty that day?

    Every soldier could pick to go to a base in Hawaii, even though Ft Stewart in GA needs soldiers?

    What if a soldier doesn't want to go to Bosnia, and instead wants to play video games all day?

    Regular jobs don't even operate that way.

    To me, and I might be wrong, but you seem to advocate the removal all responsibilty from the individual:

    If a person doesn't understand a contract they are signing, it's not the individual's fault, it's the institutions.

    Even though an individual voluntarily joined the military, it's not their fault for disobeying the rules, it's the institution's fault for having rules in the first place.

    Exactly where on your scale does individual duty and responsibility fall?



  7. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    Now this is getting interesting, and less hostile :)
    Like my previous analogy, a person shouldn't join a police force, and then be utterly surprised when they have to arrest someone.

    No, in the police though, when people disagree with shooting at people, they can quit.

    The military has an established tenent, that illegal orders are invalid, and don't have to be followed.

    The criteria that defines an illegal order is the law itself, not an individual's interpretation of what they like or don't like.


    Jobs have this: an illegal order is invalid and doesn't have to be followed, but you can also just quit if you disagree with the morality of the "legal" orders you are being given. For instance, I quit working for lawyers who were "legally" protecting the company against valid environmental lawsuits. I didn't like that I was supporting a cause that was helping a corporation get away with pollution. So I left rather than continue with them.

    Maybe I'm not following, but I'd be interested to see how you think an "all volunteer military every step of the way" would function.

    If a platoon Sgt sets the guard rotation, a soldier can refuse if he doesn't want to pull guard duty that day?

    Every soldier could pick to go to a base in Hawaii, even though Ft Stewart in GA needs soldiers?

    What if a soldier doesn't want to go to Bosnia, and instead wants to play video games all day?

    Regular jobs don't even operate that way.


    There would still be a chain of command, and a soldier would be "fired" for not following orders, just like in a regular job.

    To me, and I might be wrong, but you seem to advocate the removal all responsibilty from the individual:

    If a person doesn't understand a contract they are signing, it's not the individual's fault, it's the institutions.


    No it would be the person's fault for not reading the contract carefully, but the contract would be nullified if they backed out of it, and they would recieve no benefits they were promised. The important thing is that anyone who wanted to could quit and immediately be relieved of duty without being prosecuted, even in wartime.

    Even though an individual voluntarily joined the military, it's not their fault for disobeying the rules, it's the institution's fault for having rules in the first place.

    No, there could still be rules, like there are rules in any job. But there would be no rule that you would be jailed or killed if you quit. If a soldier was disobedient, they could be fired and their contract nullified. No benefits.

    Exactly where on your scale does individual duty and responsibility fall?
    In the army, the concept of the individual is deterred, so I don't see how that term applies to what you're promoting. The "individual" in the army as it stands has responsibility to the whole, but if their responsibility to their set of morals conflicts with the whole, they are legally bound to ignore their personal responsibility to their beliefs. I am promoting the idea that a soldier should retain the same individual rights as a common American citizen.

    I go through life like this: I have to balance my responsibility toward myself, my company, my loved ones, and to society as a whole. I do put the concerns of others before my own at times, but if one aspect were too dominant, I would be an unbalanced person.

    The military contract basically states that you must possibly sacrifice your life, and the lives of others (innocents if need be) to put faith in the President of the US. There is nothing ensuring that if the President legalizes immoral actions that you have any right to preserve your life or the lives of others by disobeying. We have seen this administration legalize torture, legalize pre-emptive invasion, and legalize combat with a country's citizens who are doing their best to resist unjust occupation. This brings me to another factor: We need to change the law to make it tougher for a president to invade another country, and hold him accountable if evidence used to build
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    But that's what I'm telling you. There are ways to quit the military that don't involve breaking the law.

    Desertion is a crime.

    Going AWOL is a crime.

    Simply telling your chain of command that you are having difficulties isn't.

    Let me provide two more examples that I was a part of. They don't illustrate any more than what they are.

    While my unit was in Bosnia, a soldier's wife had a baby. Normally the soldier would be sent home when his normal leave time came up. However, his newborn developed complications.

    By this time, I was in a squad leader's position, or an E-6. The soldier came to me and explained his situation, and how it was distracting his duties.

    We went to our Commander, and explained the situation. I was able to reschedule our squad's duties to make up the difference, and the commander approved the soldier to be sent home 4 months early, where he was scheduled for light duty in the front office back at headquarters.

    As far as I know, he is still in the military.

    The military is like a giant family, everyone looks out for everyone else, but it works both ways.

    Another solider, who I'll always remember, just refused to get out of bed. We had to phyically wake him up and get him going multiple times.

    He didn't come to PT in the morning, and he started slacking his duties, because he realized he really wanted to be a "rave DJ."

    He was eventually found guilty of dereliction of duty, and sentenced to some time at the confinement barracks.

    What's the difference?

    One soldier worked within the system and his request was granted.

    The other soldier acted out of his own perception and was treated as such.

    The military is still made up of people, who realize that no one is perfect.

    However, those who join make a commitment, and to make it work, that commitment has to be honored.

  9. Cyprusg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2002
    star 4
    I thought this thread was more about your ethical responsibility as a human being and not your legal responsibility as a soldier?
  10. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    I thought this thread was more about your ethical responsibility as a human being and not your legal responsibility as a soldier?


    The legality prevents soldiers from doing the ethical thing, because when they fill in their Conscientious Objector paperwork, it isn't being processed until after they are forced to dispatch to Iraq, or after they return. If the ethical thing is not to shoot at the insurgents, which I believe it is in many cases, then soldiers have no way out without breaking the law and being sentenced to death or imprisonment. I have not heard of any executions, but it is written that deserting during wartime is punishable by death.
  11. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I can tell that this thread has been productive.
  12. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    The legality prevents soldiers from doing the ethical thing, because when they fill in their Conscientious Objector paperwork, it isn't being processed until after they are forced to dispatch to Iraq, or after they return.

    Would you care to provide any sort of documentation to back that up?

    I've noticed this trend in a lot of your posts in any thread relating to Iraq, Bush, or similar matters. You are big on accusations, consipracies, and insinuations, but you provide very little to back them up. Yes, this is a discussion forum, but if you continually simply throw out accusations without any support, it appears more like trolling than discussion. To address your concerns, Mr44 and I have brought in numerous facts, figures, and other supporting evidence. In response, you have simply made more claims, without any sort of documentation.

    This forum isn't some clsassroom lecture. It's expected that both sides support what they say, not simply make wild claims. Would you care to try providing support for a change?

    Kimball Kinnison
  13. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    Would you care to provide any sort of documentation to back that up?

    The following are accounts which support my "claim" that when soldiers fill in their Conscientious Objector paperwork, it isn't being processed until after they are forced to deploy to Iraq, or after they return. I'd have thought everyone here would have known about this already. If you have stories that support the contrary, I'll gladly look at them. But given your debate style in the past, you will dismiss these articles as biased, inconclusive, anecdotal or un-official, therefore void of merit. Please read thoroughly, and pay special attention to the parts that people were asked to dispatch or see combat rather than having their CO status completed.

    Excerpts from an interview with Aidan Delgado:
    "Within a few months of arriving in Iraq, I told them that I wanted to be a conscientious objector and I wanted to leave the military because of my religious beliefs. It ended up taking over a year to get my status, so I served in the whole conflict as a conscientious objector. I finally got conscientious objector status after my unit returned to the U.S."

    "there's a huge burden of proof. You have to do an interview with an investigating officer who grills you on your beliefs to find out if you're just making it up or if you've really thought it out. You have to have some kind of documentation. I think one of my strongest points was that I had a lot of military paperwork showing that I had gradually identified myself as a Buddhist. I also had a lot of conversations with my superiors where I talked about being an objector and being a Buddhist, and they went on the record and said, "Yes, he's talked about it progressively throughout the deployment." That really did a lot to establish my sincerity.

    The command was extremely hostile to me, and there were all kinds of punitive measures. They wouldn't let me go on leave. They took my ballistic armor away ? they told me that I didn't need the hard plate that goes inside your flak jacket, the part that actually protects you against bullets. They said that because I was an objector and I wasn't going to fight, I wouldn't need it. This proved not to be the case; when we got to Abu Ghraib, there was continuous mortar shelling. I did the whole year's deployment without that plate. I really feel that was more maliciously motivated than anything else.

    Also, I was socially ostracized. A lot of my fellow soldiers didn't want to eat with me or hang out with me or go on missions with me. They felt I was untrustworthy because I was critical of the war and I was a Buddhist. My command "lost" my CO [Conscientious Objector] paperwork or misdirected it. They'd say, "We lost your copy, you'll have to do it again."

    I eventually got my home leave back because I threatened my commander that I was going to have them prosecuted for discriminating against me on religious grounds. My company commander, my company first sergeant, and my battalion commander had all decided they were not going to let me leave ? they said I couldn't go home on a two-week leave because I wouldn't come back. My stance was that they were just doing this because I'm a Buddhist and they didn't agree with my beliefs, and I was going to get the ACLU and the World Congress of Buddhists involved. Ultimately, they decided it wasn't worth the headache."


    I think this burden of proof is innappropriate, since systemized beliefs against violence should be no more valid than personal ones. CO status should take 10 minutes.

    From Common Dreams News Center:
    There are two types of conscientious-objector designations: one where you are removed from combat and put in another specialty field; or, as in O'Brien's case, discharged from the service entirely.

    In 2001 there were nine approved. Last year there were 31 approved and 29 denied.

    The process takes time and leads all the way to the Pentagon, where the final decision is made. Officers carefully check a person's history as far back as high school. Typically he or she will
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I think this burden of proof is innappropriate, since systemized beliefs against violence should be no more valid than personal ones. CO status should take 10 minutes.

    If someone is really opposed to violence, why did they even join the military in the first place? Why did they take a job where they knew that they had a chance of being called upon to go into battle?

    You have to admit that it is rather suspicious for someone to join the military and then, as soon as a conflict comes up, decide that they have a problem with fighting. It cheapens those who really are concientious objectors when others fake it. There has to be some sort of system to differentiate between the two.

    Is providing documentation behind all information in a post really necessary? That's a tall order for all the posters here, don't you think? This is not a courtof law, and anecdotal evidence is certainly fair game for discussion, I thought. Trolling? Trolling is hurtful isn't it? Why would it hurt someone to hear my beliefs without knowing exactly which things I read that made me believe that?

    Providing at least some documentation is often helpful. Otherwise, you wind up in a very unfair situation where one side is putting a lot of effort into gathering information and providing it in response to posts, and the other side can be doing something as simple as copying text from another website (see the Mormonism thread for an example of that, just today). That is trolling.

    I am discussing, not trolling. If it "appears" to be trolling then that is all it is. Its obviously your call, and if you decide it is, then you can edit my posts or kick me out. Until then, I will continue to discuss the merits of my point of view with people of other points of view.

    And you will continue to have other people ignore you or demand proof. If you can't or aren't willing to back up what you say, then what is the point in thyis discussion? I could accuse you of being a pink unicorn (or something similar), but not give any proof, and then continue to make all sorts of assertions no matter what evidence you provide to the contrary.

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. BenduHopkins Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 7, 2004
    star 4
    If someone is really opposed to violence, why did they even join the military in the first place?
    Why did they take a job where they knew that they had a chance of being called upon to go into battle?

    Money, sense of direction, immaturity, college loans, violent home life, any number of reasons. People have become permanently and deeply opposed to War by seeing it first hand.

    You have to admit that it is rather suspicious for someone to join the military and then, as soon as a conflict comes up, decide that they have a problem with fighting.
    People often arrive at their core beliefs when they are between 17 and 30. Many people even later. I would think that seeing conflict would help define a person's belief in non-violence in many cases. These types of reactions may skyrocket among military members in the case of Iraq, where the invasion and much of the fighting is arguably immoral.

    It cheapens those who really are concientious objectors when others fake it. There has to be some sort of system to differentiate between the two.

    I don't think the military was worried about cheapening the real objectors when they came up with such strict guidelines for CO qualification. Seems to me it is to impose control over their numbers. If the government wants people to fight who profess to hold a moral disagreement with it, then it makes them look pretty desperate. It also makes them look like they are willing to wage wars that don't have enough internal support to sustain.

    I also don't think it is preferable to differentiate between the "fakers" and the "real" objectors. There are a few positives in not differentiating. a)you wouldn't have as many people in the military who don't believe in the cause, messing up the missions and endangering their own through their apathy and lack of focus. b)You wouldn't be compromising the inalienable rights of the real objectors to obey their moral objection to war. c)It is actually impossible to differentiate between them, as all that is required is a moral objection to killing or war. There is no paper trail on a person's internal morality.

    I proposed previously that military people should be able to break their contracts and resign for no good reason, just like quitting a normal job. If that were implemented the whole question of cheapening the "real" objectors would be moot, since they would all just quit for their own reasons. If someone decides not to fight in a war, I'm all for it. We need real warriors in the military. People who understand and agree with sacrifice of life, and who feel they are protecting the country. Anyone who doesn't feel that way is not a warrior and should probably do something else with their life.

    If my ideas were implemented, I believe our Government wouldn't be so quick to deploy troops into unnecessary hostile conflicts. They might start to think rationally about what "defense" really means and what is required to qualify as a defensive action. Soldiers would trust their government to utilize them in an appropriate manner and I believe we would have alot more troops at our disposal, as well as more peace. There are many things about the military that are great, but I don't think the restrictions on discharge is one of them.
  16. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    I proposed previously that military people should be able to break their contracts and resign for no good reason, just like quitting a normal job.

    Except in your desire to uphold the individual above all else, you are overlooking some key parts to the equation.

    1)At the very basic level, when a person signs a contract, they make a commitment. This holds true if it is a car loan, a singing engagement, or a military enlistment.

    What's the point of having a contract at all, if, as you desire, one of the parties can simply break it when they grow tired of the terms?

    If you allow the individual to break the contract on a whim, do you also want the government to be able to do this as well?

    Let's say a person joins the military for 5 years to get full student loan repayment. Would you support the government if it just dropped the contract and refused to pay after the person has served 4.5 years?

    If not, that's quite a double standard you have developed, because one sided contracts aren't very effective.

    2)How about all of the training costs incurred because the person made that commitment? I think it costs almost $10,000 per person for basic training, and this doesn't include specialized schools. The langauge school I attended cost the Army $26,000, not including salary.

    That's a $36,000 investment by the military, before a soldier has even started duty, all because that soldier voluntarily entered into a contract.

    Would your proposal require the person to pay all that money back? Or would the "oh, BTW, I changed my mind" attitude prevail with this as well?

    3)And I think you'll agree most importantly- The military is a team, and the members of a team rely on each other.

    Let's say a person joins to go to the 82nd Airborne. Well, there is a slot that is held open for that person in that unit. Until that soldier gets there, that unit isn't at full strength, and the other soldiers have to do more to fill that gap.

    If that person suddenly changes their mind and simply chooses not to go, that slot remains unfilled. The individual doesn't suffer, but everyone who has to pick up the slack most certainly does.

    Not only that, but now a completely different person has to be trained, pushing back the time even farther.

    I guess that's where we differ.

    You seem to characterize the fulfillment of one's obligations as an extraordinary "warrior spirit."

    I always thought that honoring one's commitments should be fulfilled as a matter of practice.







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