15
Jul
09

On Air: Is it possible to have a moral army?

gaza soldiers
A group of Israeli soldiers say widespread abuses were carried out on civilians during their action in Gaza.

The soldiers are part of an organisation called “Breaking the Silence”.

Amnesty International has accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the 22-day conflict.

wood thumbnailHere’s what our Middle East Correspondent Paul Wood says about the latest allegations ..

“Until now, Israel always had a ready answer to allegations of war crimes in Gaza. Claims were, they said, Palestinian propaganda. Now the accusations of abuse are being made by Israeli soldiers. The common thread in the testimonies is that orders were given to prevent Israeli casualties whatever the cost in Palestinian lives.”

The report says that Israeli troops and the people who justify their actions are :

 “slid[ing] together down the moral slippery slope”.

while an Israeli military spokeswoman described the report as :

” hearsay and word of mouth”

gaza ruins

The moral argument has been picked up by others –

Here’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak :

The IDF is one of the most ethical armies in the world, and operates according to the highest moral code”

So, is it possible to have a moral army – who , are after all,  there to protect- and if necessary, kill -and to follow orders ?

Can you serve in any army and keep to your own moral code ?

Where should a soldier’s moral responsibilities lie? An inquiry is currently underway in Britain into the death of a 26 year-old Iraqi man, Baha Mousa, who died while being held by British soldiers. His post-mortem found he had extensive injuries “consistent with a systematic beating”.

Is the responsibility of soldiers first and foremost to their comrades and their country, and to civilians and prisoners of war second? If you’re fighting a war can you apply the same code of ethics to all people involved, or is it right that there is a priority? 

 

 

 

 

 

 


154 Responses to “On Air: Is it possible to have a moral army?”


  1. 1 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 15, 2009 at 11:48

    There are no moral armies because wars are dirty, and reprehensible tactics sometimes need to be employed in order to complete an objective.

    Armies will continue to commit atrocities and be protected by the governments they fall under because they are an arm of the state’s influence.

    Anyone from within the army that feels they have a moral responsibility to reject the culure and norms of the army will be victimised and ostracised for not following the pack. Even worse you can be court marshalled for insubordination if you refuse to carry out an order during a conflict.

    Part of the response of the Israeli military spokeswoman Lt Col Avital Leibovich says
    [“The IDF expects every soldier to turn to the appropriate authorities with any allegation,” Lt Col Leibovich added. “This is even more important where the harm is to non-combatants. The IDF has uncompromising ethical values which continue to guide us in every mission.” ]

    Knowing how these bureaucratic organizations operate I doubt the public would have found out anything if the soldiers had spoken to the APPROPIATE AUTHORITIES.

  2. July 15, 2009 at 11:51

    Morality is a very personal thing. One man’s morals need not necessarily equate with another man’s morals. So it’s certainly possible for someone to keep to their own personal moral code within the military. However an organisation like the military with an emphasis on following orders does put pressure on a person’s personal morals. There needs to be avenues for soldiers to relieve themselves of duty if their orders come into conflict with their morals.

    • July 20, 2009 at 14:42

      The moral code for individual combat or residual personnel is subsumed within the general rule of engagement. Soldiers must obey others even in serious war situations and may be permitted to exhibit the ingrained animal instinct only in self defense. Other non combat reactions like rape or shooting defenseless civilians need to attract appropriate sanctions.

  3. 4 Konstantin in Germany
    July 15, 2009 at 12:17

    there is no way that you can serve in an army and uphold any moral code. i wonder how the officer in charge of dropping bombs from a bomber feels like, when he’s pushing the button.
    bombs don’t distinguish people.
    what was the civilian and (para-)military casualzy ratio from the most recent israeli war?
    ps: do not mistake me for someone anti-semite, just because i’m asking this question or for being german.

  4. 5 Ramesh, India
    July 15, 2009 at 12:29

    Countries like Britain were famously projected as following morals, especially, during colonisation. I heard on Discovery channel a comment that if it were not British, any colonial power would have plotted to kill Mahatma Gandhi. I see some truth in it, however other things were bad during british colonisation.

  5. 6 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    July 15, 2009 at 13:05

    IT IS NOT FUNNY
    It is my feelings that statements made by politicians on both sides are questionable and I suspect that these soldiers are right. I think too that, even though an army can be imoral and made up of countless bafoons, morality in a substantial number of troops does exist and these are the ones who promote the pride in armies.
    Contrally to pedestrian understanding, Its not true that every soldier is an adventurer. Yes, morality still exists in quite a substancial number of soldiers because if the training was right, it must have touched on the sanctity of human life. Who has not been touched by pictures of soldiers clutching at small babies sometimes dead ones in enemy territories while ‘hell is under fire’?
    Time and again we must remember that armies or soldiers perform better when the mandate and reasons behind the conflict are made clear. It should not be lost on us that, often these are men who have vowed to give up their own lives in order to lives of others. They know very well that a stupid act can ruin the rest of your life because of guilt alone. Israel should remember that its army is not made up of atheists and what they say is part of a good military career and training. Despite the provocation, these soldiers need to taken serious for the sake of the whole army and justice.

  6. 7 Tom K in Mpls
    July 15, 2009 at 13:24

    The lines have never been clear in war. What ends up happening, is if those involved in and near a situation feel practicality has been properly served, morality is put aside. Sometimes this will go to far and people speak up. It happens in every war. Influence and direct guidance come from above. Ultimately it is the mandate set by the highest levels of government that are the main guide.

    Now thinking on that, is it possible the Fundamentalist leadership of Israel is loosing control? Perhaps Sharon wasn’t just a fluke. There may be hope for the middle east yet.

  7. 8 Peter Gizzi UK
    July 15, 2009 at 13:34

    There is an “old” saying, “All is fair in love and war”. it still seems to apply.

  8. 9 VictorK
    July 15, 2009 at 13:42

    Propaganda is one of the fronts in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Israel’s ‘ethical’ army – which is true comparatively speaking – is part of the hitherto successful Israeli campaign on that front. the Israelis will commit abuses, just like the Palestinians. But isn’t it a question of degree? What really matters is what kind of a society an army comes out of, the professional discipline of that army, and the civilian response to actual and alleged abuses.

    Compare the casual and widespread rapes & murders committed by Nazi and Soviet soldiers during WWII. Here were two societies that had banished traditional Christian morality; that had no sense of moral obligation or professional discipline re opponents; and their leaders were two of history’s great monsters – Hitler and Stalin. Two utterly immoral armies who raped and murdered civilians by the million. The Japanese army – with its slave labour, comfort women and Manchuria campaign – fell into the same category. Contrast that with the conduct of the British and American armies. The crimes against occupied civilians committed by them were comparatively rare. Two societies adhering to a traditional Christian code with professional armies accountable to elected representatives. A good society produces a (relatively) good and moral army; a rotten society produces an army to match.

    http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1099647.html

    • 10 Ann
      July 15, 2009 at 14:47

      Victor – I have to say I’m with you on this one. Can’t disagree with a word of this.

      • 11 Konstantin in Germany
        July 15, 2009 at 15:41

        Victor, even the good-guy-societies can create armies with rotten standards or deeds.

        The English army for example with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in India for example or the American army… or the CIA (which still qualifies for me as part of an army) with the coup d’etats in Guatemala in 1954, which plunged Guatemala into a long period of unrest.

        As a German with the inborn guilt of the past, I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. But I’m also telling, that there is none, who can throw the first stone. Consequently, we all or all societies are guilty…

    • 12 Tom K in Mpls
      July 15, 2009 at 17:45

      Actually the traditional, professional German military had standards and behavior at least on par with the Allied military. I have this from a variety of people that fought there, including my father. Now the SS was a very different organization in every way.

      It is not fair to call all WWII Germans Nazis.

  9. 13 patti in cape coral
    July 15, 2009 at 14:00

    I think it depends on the individual’s morals, but morals in war don’t really change the outcome. Whether you are a soldier that follows his orders to the letter because he sincerely believes in his cause, or uses the war as an excuse to feed an appetite for violence, the result is the same, unfortunately.

  10. 14 Ann
    July 15, 2009 at 14:05

    Tried posting a comment earlier, but I guess it was too hot to handle. So I’ll try to say it a different way.

    Recently Netanyahu employed the use of the a Nazi era word to describe the Palestian demand for the dismantling of the Israeli settlements in the west bank. (see Peter Beaumont’s article in the Guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 July)

    And now we have the Israeli armed forces claiming they are moral and ethical.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I see a link there. It seems to me a rather cynical ploy to redefine the parameters of the conflict and an attempt to morally justify what many people believe is unjustifiable.

  11. July 15, 2009 at 14:24

    Armies will always be a direct reflection of the societies they are/operate from. You see, they were all kids on the block at one time, who did all the other kids did, they went to the same schools, sat under the same teachers before going to the army.
    In the army and in every other segment of every other society will always be mixed: some good, some bad; some peaceable, some blood thirsty, some conciliatory some hostile, some willing to ‘break the silence’ some ever secretive…
    ARE THERE MORAL ARMIES? Are their moral societies?

  12. 16 Steve in Boston
    July 15, 2009 at 14:28

    Moral war is about as possible as ethical journalism.

  13. 17 Tamatoa
    July 15, 2009 at 14:29

    An Army can’t be moral because it is an executive arm of a the state. Only actions can be moral or immoral. If the executive/parliament/president says: “Yes, we will use the army to do something” then that descision can either be moral or not.

    So if we want to reformulate the question: “Is it possible to use an army morally?” Offensively, it is impossible. Why would an individual/state attack its neighbour? That can never be morally justified. But if an institution like the UN which (theoretically) has the support of all the others states finds that one of its members states uses its national army to attack an other member state then the UN would be morally obliged to use the global army – containing of all the military ressources the other countries provide – against the aggressive state.

    Actions of individual soldiers can not be seen as part of the army’s actions. Their actions must be judged on an individual basis.

  14. July 15, 2009 at 14:34

    War brings out the worst in human beings. Wars are disgusting and brings out the worst in human beings.The animal instincts reign supreme and bestiality is often the governing pattern. The fact that both sides have shown utter contempt for Geneva conventions necessitates a full, impartial investigation .In times of war ,morals are thrown to the winds. ‘Ethical’ wars do not exist in practice. The aim of wars is to defeat and destroy the opposing army Both the Israelis and the Palestinians are guilty of war-crimes. But it is important to get to the bottom of the conflict and find ways of stopping the carnage.

  15. 19 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 14:43

    Gee, ANOTHER show about Israel….. Meanwhile a plane crashes in Iran, god knows how many people have been blown up in Iraq, how many people have died in Xianjiang or Darfur. Lets focus on Israel!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8149014.stm
    Iran executes 13 sunni rebels. If Israel did something like this, the UN would condemn Israel and there would be mass media coverage. Since Israel didn’t do it, who cares?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8133639.stm

    Iraqi gays had better lives under Saddam. Had Israel been attacking gays, the world would condemn Israel.

    Face it, Israel is a democracy, and in democracies, you don’t silence opinions, so the self loathing types are free to speak their minds. Notice it’s horrible, unspeakable if an Israeli ever kills a Palestinian, but the world turns a blind eye when Hamas and Fatah gunmen are killing each other in civilian areas. Again, the world might as well just openly state, “be a good jew, let the arabs kill you without you giving a fight, it’s for the best”

    • July 15, 2009 at 15:06

      Hi Steve,
      It’s not a show about Israel. We’re talking about the morality of all armies. I thought that was pretty clear in Mark’s blog.
      I’d like to hear what you have to say about that.
      Cheers
      Madeleine

  16. 21 Bruno
    July 15, 2009 at 14:49

    There are armies that are more moral than others. It depends essentially on the conflict they are fighting.

    The israeli one is probably one of the less moral in the world because their cause is criminal and illegal in the first place and they are trained to see Palestinians lives as very negligible quantity.

  17. July 15, 2009 at 14:51

    NO.
    An army is like a bunch of school kids. There are those holier-than-thou teacher-pets who wouldn’t kill a fly, then there are those who follow others in whatever activity whether good or bad {mob psychology} and then there are those who are simply out on a roll when breaking every rule in the book.
    The IDF or any other army is no different.

  18. July 15, 2009 at 14:56

    ‘Duty’ has always been a convenient justification for the moral ambiguity that is war. In fact, it may be the only thing that can even be offered as a justification.

    I suppose when you’re fighting for your life and the lives of those you are meant to protect, morality extended to the person you’re fighting isn’t upmost in your mind.

    Are the soldiers morally reprehensible for taking another human’s life? Probably not. Is there something wrong with the idea of a society which asks its people to fight and be ready to put country and politics over morality or humanity even? For sure. It’s tragic that world peace is so impractical and implausible.

  19. 24 Roy, Washington DC
    July 15, 2009 at 15:07

    It’s like asking if a person can be moral. Morality is relative, and practically all people have at least some sense of what they consider “ethical”. This varies widely from person to person, just like it varies widely from army to army. Even the most hardened criminals have ethical values, and even the military of the Third Reich had ethical values. This doesn’t excuse or condone their behavior, but by their standards, they felt they were acting morally.

  20. 25 Ann
    July 15, 2009 at 15:10

    @Vicktor – I was thinking about what you were saying about the British and the American conduct during WW2. I think on the whole is was exemplary, but my father told me a couple of anecdotes that made me pause for thought…

    Before he joined the navy at the beginning of the war he was a draughtsman. And he decided he could not do that anymore when he discovered his firm were drawing up plans for German U boats.

    Secondly he was a telegraphist on a minesweeper and there was a time when he saw a (well I’ll just say an allied) destroyer sunk a U boat and then turned it’s propellers on the survivors. Sad very sad.

  21. July 15, 2009 at 15:16

    There is assurance that an army has moral standards only if it is kept in its barracks. On the field, there is no assurance. The most notorious armies were in Africa during the civil wars in countries like Sierra Leon and Liberia where civilians were killed indifferently or left to die of their wounds.

    Soldiers, in general, when faced with danger, will do anything for their survival by breaking army ethics.

    In Afghanistan, many civilians were knowingly killed because of missile attacks against Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

    Wars, after all, aren’t a sport match where faults are pointed out and the perpetrator is penalised on the spot. To avoid atrocities by the army, there should be no wars in the first place. This is impossible, as we all know, the world isn’t totally free of war zones. Hence the army morality will be questionable in one place or another.

  22. 27 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 15:25

    @ Madaleine

    So like in yesterday’s show, it will be a discussion about armies in general, and not just Israel, as yesterday’s show was limited to do men need to be protected from themselves and NOT about Islam and shariah and the rules for dress in muslim nations and how those apply/do not apply in the west?

  23. 29 Dan
    July 15, 2009 at 15:26

    Of course this is “Beat Up On Israel Day” again.
    One first has to ask what is the purpose of war.
    If you are the agressor (ie:the Arabs) then they seek the elimination of all Jews in Israel. Their goals have nothing to do with morality but following a hyjacked religious teaching. They trhink they are moral.
    If you are the defender then it is to stop the enmy advance, push them back and inflict so much damage that the enemy sues for peace.
    Morality has nothing to do with war as war is inherently immoral.
    The Military though has to operate under rules when fighting State combattants that were set down by countries known as the Geneva Conventions.
    Fighting terrorists or NON-State actors revises how one fights a war as the terrorists and NON-State actors by definition follow no rules.

  24. July 15, 2009 at 15:31

    Moral army is an oxymoron. Humans are obsessed with violence. Violence i glorified, memorialized, celebrated and offered for entertainment. War has become justified, people are desensitized to mass killings, to many feel comfortable clutching their weapons. Entire countries go hungry due to amassing armies armories. We justify the insanity as being in defense of liberty. Humans will destroy themselves with this sick insanity.

  25. 31 Mohan, USA
    July 15, 2009 at 15:38

    Let’s face it, war is the most barbaric state of a society. It takes human beings to primal, survivalistic roots, a simpe mindset of “kill or be killed”. The instincts, the adrenalin, the fear, are at levels that those of us who have never been there could not even begin to understand. So, to say that a morality can exist in those kinds of condtions would be to assume the impossible.

  26. 32 brinda,India
    July 15, 2009 at 15:49

    Can some one define moral for me !!!!

    One of the many words that is misused and misundstood.

  27. 33 Justin from Iowa
    July 15, 2009 at 15:50

    I don’t see how it is possible to have anything less than a Moral army and to be successful. When immorality is allowed to flourish, an army starts to break down – its will to fight, its chain of command, and its acceptance by the people it is supposed to be fighting for.

  28. 35 brinda,India
    July 15, 2009 at 15:52

    What can be “moral” in a war ?

    There is a war because of immoral conduct by either sides or both the side.

    So instead of acting like human being war is way of bringing the animal in us out.

    and use words like morals to justify what we do.

  29. 36 Dennis Junior
    July 15, 2009 at 15:55

    No, You can’t have a Moral Army in reality, due to the inherhit dangers…But, you can teached morals to the Military Staffers…..

    ~Dennis Junior~

    • 37 Dennis Junior
      July 16, 2009 at 05:48

      Hi,
      I have a question to ask: Did you used my comments????

      Thanks for the usage of my blog information….

      ~Dennis Junior~

  30. 38 Anthony
    July 15, 2009 at 16:04

    Are you kidding me…doesn’t everything the U.S. army does moral? (joke)

    I think all armies represent the morals of the countries they are from.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  31. 39 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    July 15, 2009 at 16:07

    Peter Grizzi is correct in saying that “All’s fair in love and war” still seems to apply. Another old expression also still applies: “War is hell.” My career-soldier brother, who served in conflicts from Korea to Vietnam, did his best to act in a moral way, as does my nephew who is currently serving his third tour in Iraq, but it isn’t up to the individual soldier to decide on the morality of the rules of engagement.

    “Morality” is not absolute, particularly in life and death situations. Cannibalism is abhorrent, but it was moral of the survivors of a plane crash in the Andes to eat the bodies of those who died in the crash, that being the only way to survive. It’s unrealistic to try to arrive at a blanket, one-size-fits-all definition of morality.

    While there were certainly immoral actions taken by the Israelis during the last conflict, we shouldn’t forget that the reason there was a conflict was because Hamas had launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians–and if THAT isn’t immoral, I don’t know what is.

  32. 40 rob z.
    July 15, 2009 at 16:17

    Hello,
    My father is a Vietnam veteran,and I have met many comat veterans from WW2 and Korea.
    I do not pretend to fully understand the experience they had,or speak for any one other than my self.
    From what has been told to me over time is that a soldier is trained based the official conduct code of his military organization;his moral code is taught to him by the society and culture of which he grew up in.
    As for moral conduct while in a combat situation;one is trained mission first,protect your comrades.
    Get the mission done and survive as a unit.
    I’m sure we all agree killing is not a moral act,but that is the military’s job.
    Human nature under the stress of combat is hard to control.So there will be moments of indicretion.
    Should such incidents be dismissed,no.
    Should the soldiers involved be punished,yes;to what extent is up to the military court.
    Would I call them bad men,no.They are doing what their governments sent them to do.
    I will not judge a man for what he does to survive combat,his memories will haunt him.

  33. 41 STT
    July 15, 2009 at 16:22

    It is perfectly legitimate for soldiers who are being fired upon, to return fire towards its source, whether
    they think the shooters are hiding behind civilians, or not. Hamas modus operandi is to lob rockets quite
    deliberately at Israeli civilians, and then hide behind their own civilians when Israel finally retaliated.
    It is a perfectly legitimate order for soldiers to be told – “take care of yourselves – hit anything that
    threatens you.” It is not immoral for a soldier to defend himself.

    Israelis drop leaflets warning they are coming into an area (did so in Gaza too), they also warned targeted individuals to move away from their families. They try, but as said before it is unjust for even one child
    to be killed or even terrorized by war – on *either side of the border.*

    The moral question is who is responsible for the deaths of civilians and to the damage to their property? The
    people who triggered what is essentially a defensive war to stop the rockets, or the soldiers who respond
    to fire that is directed at them quite deliberately from schools, mosques and next to UN food storage?

    I know the question is not about Israel, but I wonder why it was not raised in the context of Iraq,
    Iran, Pakistan, Kasmir, Tibet – just to mention a few current aggressions, of which I would count only Pakistan and Afghanistan as defensive wars, comparable to Israel’s offensive against Hamas.

  34. 42 Mohammed Ali
    July 15, 2009 at 16:23

    Creating a moral army is an illusion. Armies are armies, they take orders without questioning. The only time they know that they have done wrong is when they are no more in the army. SIMPLE

  35. 43 Michel Norman
    July 15, 2009 at 16:24

    In a chivalrous world, armies would fight far away from civilians, as at Waterloo.

    Israel without a shadow of doubt is a moral army, the problem is that it is facing an enemy that is intent on causing as many civilian deaths as possible, which aims to bring the battle into the middle of densely populated areas, which uses ambulances as personnel carriers, mosques as arms dumps and hospitals as launch pads for its rockets. The question is how much the Israeli army should risk soldiers lives in such circumstances. As a father of a soldier I would say that when facing an enemy who refuses to recognize our right to exist, which even uses children’s TV to inclucate anti-semitism in its youth, and whose moral compass is shown by mass demonstrations to celebrate 9/11 and to mock the gross breach of the geneva conventions in the case of Gilad Shalit, don’t risk the soldiers lives.

    Israel would never consider doing a Dresden, we use as little force as possible, and the fact remains that the majority of the casualties were Hammas “soldiers”. The fact that they chose to fight in civilian clothes does not make them civilians.

    Israel even went to the extent of phoning targets before sending in the aircraft, does any other army do that??

    And one final question, The rockets take 10 seconds from launch to hitting Sderot. If you were faced with a situation where you see something that looks like people preparing to fire rockets, would you react immediately and stop them, or would you wait until you were sure (by which time the rockets are in the air)???

    • 44 Halima
      July 15, 2009 at 19:40

      I have to disagree with you Michel. Israel’s army is no more moral than any other. War of any kind is a policy of a nation to subjugate, or destroy another. Even in so called self-defense. There would be no self-defense necessary if the nation involved were not also involved in an attempt to destroy the other. I am so tired of hearing how Israel is “only defending itself” an how awful the Palestinians are. As if Israel’s policies – and its army was not part and parcel of the whole problem.

      In order to do what armies do, they HAVE to see the “other” as less than human. Otherwise how is it possible. I suppose if we think of armies as an extension of police, and how police should, in theory “protect and serve” and how they must be accountable even for understandable breeches of control.

      Sorry I do not think Israel’s army is moral, nor are those of Hamas, nor the Americans, nor the Russians, nor the British. I do think there is a place for an army, but 99% of the time, they are used as a political tool to subjugate, oppress, or conquer and control someone else for political reasons.

  36. 45 Methusalem
    July 15, 2009 at 16:25

    War is war — as such, there is no a moral or an immoral war. The soldiers who fight in wars are ordinary people and have little power over how a war is carried out. Soldiers create power for those in charge, but have little power over the conduct of the international conflicts and domestic politics that lead to war. But this lack of power over geopolitics and the affairs of state does not negate that each soldier makes a moral choice to either be an active participant in war or not. Soldiers cannot direct armies, but do direct themselves. Each soldier has the power to deem a war as immoral or illegal. And each solider as the power to act in accordance to their own conscience.

    But if soldiers believe a war to be immoral, then their participation in such a war is, by their own admission, immoral and wrong. Now they must stand before themselves and decide what is the right thing to do – fight or refuse. They have the power to decide and to act in accordance to their own conscience. All Israeli soldiers fought against their enemies for their own cause, for the cause of their country. Organisations like Amnesty International don’t have the right to interefere with the business of a sovereign army.

  37. 46 Justin from Iowa
    July 15, 2009 at 16:30

    No, its not simple. Some of us hold ourselves to a higher standard, or try too. We have failed, often, but we still try to hold ourselves to that standard, rather than giving in to our darker, base urges and acting immorally.

    The growth in use of US missile strikes, and their willingness to inflict “Acceptable levels of civilian casualties” is abhorrent to me. It is wrong. We do not kill hostages to get to their hostage takers in the US, and we should not kill civilians to get to enemy fighters lurking in their midst.

    We are Americans, and by God we are better than that.

  38. 47 Peter_scliu
    July 15, 2009 at 16:31

    The nepalie gurkha are pride themselves as dedicated soldier. Their morality depends on who is giving the orders. A dedicated and discipline army that behave and listen to orders is as moral as you can get.

  39. 48 David
    July 15, 2009 at 16:34

    This question is better dirrected to the International Criminal Justice Court which to me seems to only exist for the little fellows?

  40. 50 Stephen in Portland/Oregon
    July 15, 2009 at 16:38

    This has gone on since the Romans! It’s always a few bad apples that spoil the bunch.

    The military recruit young men from the poorer less informed areas and reprogram them into blood thirsty killing machines then release them on a people they think are subhuman and therefore don’t count its inevitable there is going to be war crimes.

  41. 51 Ramesh, India
    July 15, 2009 at 16:40

    Well, morality in a war looks absurd. But we have set some moral standards to be followed in case of a war happening. For example, not attacking civilians, having some standards in treatment of enemy soldiers caught etc. We have Geneva convention to which many countries are signatories. In short, we can say any war that breaks Geneva convention is not only immoral but also a crime.

  42. 52 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 16:44

    @ Justin

    ““Acceptable levels of civilian casualties” is abhorrent to me. ”

    With views like yours, we would have lost WW2, and fascists would rule the world today, and many ethnic minorities would have been killed off completely. The amount of civilian casualties today compared to WW2 is is laughable. Back in WW2, more civilians were killed than soldiers, and by far.

  43. 53 Gary Paudler
    July 15, 2009 at 16:50

    No; how can there be a moral army when, from the point of view of the combatants,
    both sides are righteous and each side faces a mortal treat should they not prevail.
    It’s almost unbelievable that, in this 21st century, supposedly civilized states still
    consider it necessary and reasonable to inflict violent force on an opponent’s civilian population as a means of achieving a political goal. I wish my following comment could be only about Israel (not the mandate for today’s discussion) but it, unfortunately applies to every army and their civilian political masters: Israel will conduct an investigation and find that all Israeli soldiers conducted themselves in manners commensurate with the Israeli Army’s stellar standards of military conduct, including firing heavy artillery and white phosphorus in densely-populated areas. In modern warfare there is a 10 to 1 ratio of civilian to military casualties; that is accepted as normal and inevitable, how can there be a moral army operating under that premise?

    • 54 Konstantin in Germany
      July 15, 2009 at 17:18

      thank you for providing the ratio… i rwally was interested in it.

    • 55 Michel Norman
      July 15, 2009 at 19:08

      There was not a ten to one ratio of civilian casualties to military casualties – of the 1000 dead 600 were terrorists – Israel even telephoned targets warnign them to get out first. The “collateral damage” levels were far lower than those achieved by the British Army in Iraq. The real question is that yes some Israeli soldiers who by all accounts do not have the full picture raise these questions. There is noone on the Palestinian side raising the question of the morality of Hammas fighing from behind a human shield, of taking the fighting on purpose into densly populated civilian areas with the express intention of causing civilian casualties to their own side.

  44. 56 patti in cape coral
    July 15, 2009 at 16:53

    A friend of our family is a pacifist, and my argument with him is that even though I think pasifism is a beautiful thing, it only works if everyone is a pacifist. It’s about as circular as the Israel and Hamas mess. Would it be terrible if I admitted how sick I am of both of them and their justifications, the endless arguments without any conclusion?

    I don’t think a body of people can be moral, I really do think it is an individual thing.

  45. 57 Charley in Portland
    July 15, 2009 at 17:05

    Maintaining the honor of an army through moral restraint is of course desirable; but to do so may be costly in terms of prolonging a conflict.

    Total ruthlessness may quickly break an enemy with terror and “scorched earth” tactics; but will be costly in terms of generations of hatred leading to future conflicts.

    So the question is which is more important; maintaining one’s honor & reputation, or achieving a swift victory? I chose the former.

  46. 58 Nigel
    July 15, 2009 at 17:09

    If armies are run by the politicians there will be nothing moral or ethical in the way they go about their business.

    • 59 Halima
      July 15, 2009 at 19:46

      Indeed. To ask the question of whether an army is moral begs the question of the society that sends it forth.
      most of the time it is not.

      But when an army is necessary, if care is not taken to protect civilians, then it certainly is not, and in such a place as Gaza where the distinction is nearly impossible to make, then the army is the wrong tool.

      This conflict has two sides, one with a lot of power and one with very little. The basis for any violence, then is almost one-sided and it is necessary for the more powerful one then to find another way of dialog. The less powerful one, if given no voice and no way to live may resort to violence as the only recourse left. I believe this is the case.

  47. 60 Tracy Fox
    July 15, 2009 at 17:17

    Anytime ultimate authority is held by one or more persons over another there will be abuses. This is why checks and balances are absolutely necessary. Abuses will still occure, but they will be stopped sooner. Rather than 100 victims of those who would abuse power there might just be one. Soldiers and law enforcement officers need routine testing and care so they do not become incapable of seeing everyone as the bad guys. And more care needs to be taken to keep out those already prone to violence, and the inability to see the difference between civillians and targets. The sooner military and law enforcement address rather than trying to bury the problem the better.

    “My strength is not measured by my ability to defeat the few but by my ability to protect the many”

    Tracy
    Portland OR

  48. 61 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    July 15, 2009 at 17:22

    We are not fortunate with these hitech expensive miliatries which are becoming total liabilities to humanity too. How come we no longer hear of prisoners of war in some conflicts like we used to? What are the latest prisoners of war in Georgiqa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc?

    Is any body or persons available to countercheck whether the rules of war have been re-written. What do we do now after the weakening of UN which is now nothing more than PR body owned by the powerful? As if that is not enough, remember too that it was one of the casualties in the latest incursions in our history.

    In the wake of myriad conflicts now dominated by guerrilers and the so called terrorists, is it not clear that the work of the old army is only to terrorize the innocent in order to maintain a flawed credibitlity? Can you blame the existence of informal armies when it is obvious that some people have been left without a voice like the UN which is now abused by some?

  49. 62 Michael in Ft Myers, Florida
    July 15, 2009 at 17:25

    To be a successful soldier, one must have a certain detatched ruthlessness. The recorded history of all of the world’s warriors shows this throughout time, and those for whom, like myself, violence is a strange and terrible thing should never volunteer to become a soldier. This does not excuse unauthorized and/or excessive violence, however if anyone is shocked by it, then that person has never read a single history book.

  50. July 15, 2009 at 17:25

    The U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice incorporates the Nuremberg Principle that soldiers have not only the right but the duty to refuse illegal orders that would constitute war crimes. But this ethic is routinely disregarded if soldiers are conditioned to dehumanize the enemy, which is the case in both Israel and the U.S. (“hajis” or “terrorists” rather than people like you and I), and encouraged or permitted by national and military leaders and their policies.

    I am concerned that your framing of the topic will tend to “normalize” war crimes and crimes against humanity as inevitable in armed conflict. Studies of combat have shown that atrocities are much less likely if combatants are not systematically desensitized and the “enemy” dehumanized during military indoctrination and training.

  51. July 15, 2009 at 17:27

    the concept of morality in todays world is relative.if a weak person does it,then it wrong and immoral.however,when i it done by the high and mighty,then it automatically becomes right.the whole world looked on when the israeli terror machine wrecked havoc on the world’s largest open prison.and what was the response? well, nothing.there was not a single response from any of the so called civilized countries who tout their moral credentials.there can be no morality,either in the army or outside it unless the world gets to understand the simple fact that what is good for a country in the west,is equally good for another in the east.

  52. 65 Bruno
    July 15, 2009 at 17:33

    I agree that wars are never “moral”
    But there is different degree to it. An army of occupation with very lax rules of engagements, like the IDF, is bound to commit plenty of atrocities and war crimes.
    Even more when they know they will be covered and get way with it in the end anyway.

  53. 66 Xavier
    July 15, 2009 at 17:36

    A moral army is an ideal that most disciplined armies have tried to attain all through out history because it is easy to lose “humanity” in all the stress, chaos and hatred drummed up in military campaigns.

    What we must have is the mechanism to monitor and guide the conduct of war. It is in good faith and borne of morality that these valiant Israeli soldiers have spoken out.

    Similar instances of valiance and morality have brought various war criminals to book the world over, prominent of which are the Nuremberg trials of Nazis, the War Crime Tribunals that tried Rwandan and Bosnian war criminals and the current trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia indicted for sponsoring the rebel RUF atrocities in neighboring Sierra Leone in his bid to control the diamond mines.

  54. 67 Carole Ann Geronimo
    July 15, 2009 at 17:39

    It’s difficult to respond to a question in the abstract, rather than on a case by case basis. Humankind should aim for the moral high ground, but unfortunately, governments, leaders and often civilians and yes individual soldiers, fail in that task. I’d like to believe that armies are capable of being “moral;” however, the concept of morality that it appears you are espousing, that is, doing no harm to those who do not harm or attack you directly (but perhaps who do attack you by indirect means or who just support those who attack you), may not be workable. Only by avoiding war entirely unless it is the last resort is I believe the only answer. But the current “theory” about war, that armies are entitled to invade sovereign nations or territories for either presumed threats, potential threats or to clear out pockets of resistance or just because they want to (Hitler) is at the root of the unmoral army. In my opinion, waging war against pockets of resistance (as in Gaza or Lebanon), possible threats (like Iraq) or potential threats is illegal as is waging war for economic, social or religious means. War is abhorrent. It is only when the acts of a nation are illegal (Germany invading sovereign nations at the outset and then annihilating innocent persons, etc.), that I believe war is necessary. Even in WWII, innocents were lost, on both sides, but that cost is perhaps acceptable because the stakes were very high.

    Governments are expressions of the collective people. But if the people do not speak, then the message of the government becomes the message of the few who are in power, the power brokers, politicians, lobbyists, etc. If you don’t like what your government is doing, petition, demonstrate, try to cause a change. Don’t keep on voting in parties and persons who don’t represent you.

    In the maelstrom, a soldier who stands up for the moral high ground is subject to court martial, attack and/or insubordination charges. But if they don’t stand up for justice and for morality, then our society loses.

    During the Vietnam Police Action, I joined many others in marching, petitioning Congress, raising our voices at home. We continued even despite possible injury, violence and arrest until the tide turned and the public supported ending the war. I was in DC almost every other week at some demonstration, whether large or small. Our numbers swelled. Our voices were being heard. The Media covered us. Returning soldiers told about the atrocities that they had witnessed or even were a part of and those courageous acts spurred those of us who were not in the army to even further action.

    I’m very concerned about our global society since there don’t appear to be those who speak out, organize and petition. It’s almost like we’d rather intellectualize about the war, listen to pundits, and vegetate than take collective action. It may be that the internet permits us to raise our voices in other ways, but like the movements that caused change in the past, constant reminders spur action.

    The only army that is moral is the one that wages no war. Wars should end entirely unless absolutely the last resort.

  55. 68 John in Salem
    July 15, 2009 at 17:45

    In theory, yes, but ONLY in theory.
    War is a form of controlled insanity. Take a few hundred thousand young men of any background and any culture, pump them full of fear and adrenaline, give them all guns and drop them into a volatile situation where there’s a good chance of them being killed and you have all the ingredients of atrocity. Good generals will try to minimize incidents but even the best can’t be everywhere.
    It is, as the say, the nature of the beast – your heart may say something would be wrong, but the only angels on the battlefield are the dead.

  56. 69 Corinna
    July 15, 2009 at 17:46

    Fighting terrorists who have no code of correct behaviour is not an easy thing. In normal warfare you dont have the soldiers hiding behind civilians. War is ugly at the best of times but dont forget Israel restrained itself for 8 years! 8 years of being bombarded with rockets – what other country would of held back like Israel did. What other country would tolerate such an attack without retaliation. Just imagine yourselves sitting at home for 8 years hearing rockets being shelled into your schools and living rooms. If the world is really concerned about human suffering then it needs to stand up to what is wrong – Israel being rocketed for 8 years was totally unacceptable and yet the world said nothing. This appeasement attitude is the reason why the world now has a terrorist cancer spreading like wild fire in it.

  57. 70 Andrew in Australia
    July 15, 2009 at 17:47

    It is impossible to have a moral army. By the very definition of what an army is and does how can you expect that anyone who joins the army voluntarily has moral intentions high up on their list of objectives. Basically if you want to join an army you might want to use it as a stepping stone to a career by taking up on offers of training and education, but the ultimate aim of training a soldier is to kill the enemy. That is the prime objective.There are other objectives but to kill is the prime motive and you have to think no matter what, anyone who wishes to become a soldier has that base desire to obtain a weapon, use that weapon and kill another person. As can be seen throughout the world many who join armies are on the lower rungs of society and see it as an opportunity when other chances do not exist. Can we reasonably expect such individuals to have a highly developed sense of morality that will be exercised. That might be a generalisation, but it has validity when seeing how modern day armies act and the rate of war crimes that are prevalent across the globe in conflict zones where troops are deployed.

  58. 71 Tom D Ford
    July 15, 2009 at 17:49

    @ VictorK
    July 15, 2009 at 13:42

    “Compare the casual and widespread rapes & murders committed by Nazi and Soviet soldiers during WWII. Here were two societies that had banished traditional Christian morality; …”

    The Nazi soldiers were a Christian Army and they wore belt buckles inscribed “Gott Mit Uns”, which means something like “God is on our side”.

    And look at what the notoriously Christian US military has done to Iraq with their “Shock and Awe” bombing, invasion and occupation. And how about what the US Christian military did in the first gulf war on the notorious “Highway of Death”. And look at how the Christian US military just stood by and let Saddam Hussein butcher the Kurds that they had encouraged to revolt.

    No, Christians don’t have clean hands, they are not a moral army.

    • 72 Tom K in Mpls
      July 15, 2009 at 23:50

      Tom, I think you are confusing the non Nazi regular German army with the SS. Most people in the German military hated the SS. This is also why neo-Nazis like SS memorabilia and not the regular army stuff.

  59. 73 Justin from Iowa
    July 15, 2009 at 17:52

    @steve:

    Thank you for ignoring all context in the history of our world to make your own narrow minded point.

    There are vast gulfs of difference between World War II and fighting against a guerilla insurgency with nebulous rights to be there. Our current wars are FAR closer in comparison to Vietnam. And the commies won that one, in case you are too blinded by your own propaganda to have recognized that. Not only is acting immorally wrong, in and of itself, but its the quickest route to failure!

    And, to the core of your point, in itself it is flawed. Would not dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have “lost” america the war in the pacific? No. It would have led to far greater American, and Japanese, casualties. But to falsely assume (with no way of proving one way or the other) that that would have “lost the war” is a liar’s propaganda. You can pull out countless other examples where expediency could be argued over morality, and in very few cases was the trade off worth while. And in those cases where it was worth while, it saved lives in the long run. Convince me how killing 5 guerilla grunts in afghanistan for the loss of 10 non-combatant bystanders is going to ultimately save lives? At least in the case of World War II, when we’d intercepted news of the Germans intent to firebomb an allied city, and chose not to warn them, we knew there were real reasons for doing so. And even so, that’s the sort of decision that any “moral” leader of men would wrestle with for the rest of his life.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Its easy to just right off people you don’t know as “acceptable losses”. Well, news flash buddy. The towers were “acceptable losses” to the bad guys, and dropping yourself down to their level makes YOU as big of a terrorist as THEM.

    Your words, and the fact many people agree with them, make me ashamed to call myself an American some times.

  60. 74 John (Las Vegas)
    July 15, 2009 at 17:54

    War is immoral. Necessary at times, but immoral nonetheless.

    One should remember that after WWII the Nuremburg Trials resulted in principles to judge when a government or soldier committed a war crime. Because an act has been sactioned by a government the soldier is not absolved if that order violates international law.

    I believe it was US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who said that war is about killing people and destroying things. On such authority one should be careful to judge any war moral.

  61. 75 Vijay
    July 15, 2009 at 17:58

    After the end of the cold war the USA and allies as the “power” in the world had the moral duty to act against brutal regimes and dictators around the world such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    If you have the power and ability to do something and chose to abdicate your moral responsibilty and do nothing that is worse than trying to do something and not succeeding 100%.

  62. 76 Anthony
    July 15, 2009 at 18:00

    mor·al (môrl, mr-) KEY

    ADJECTIVE:

    Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.

    There is the definition. It’s ones judgment, it’s all relative, so one could say that ALL armies/wars are moral.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  63. 77 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 18:11

    Would your consciencious objector have objected to the Falklands War? What conflict would he not object to?

  64. 78 Cris in El Paso, Texas
    July 15, 2009 at 18:18

    If soldiers are just supposed to follow orders than where do crimes against humanity abuses fit in this argument? Are the people who give the order the only people responsible? Should the soldiers be held responsible for the orders they fulfill? If not, than why are so few order GIVERS held responsible for their orders? Even more, why are so few politicians held responsible for their policies? In the end, who bares the responsibility? It seems to me that no one does.

  65. 79 John From San Francisco
    July 15, 2009 at 18:19

    The Neuremberg trials and even the Geneva Conventions due impose a ‘moral’ component to the prosecution of war, and a duty to not follow orders when the morality of those orders is in question. I feel for soldiers because they are trained to obey, and then if they happen to be held to account for actions taken, they are expected to reserve their independent judgement. However I think we need that to stop the ever growing probelms of civilian deaths, underage participants, anti personell mines and other war litter.

  66. 80 Everett and Hadea
    July 15, 2009 at 18:19

    Soldiers are not robots and do have to worry about morals. The fact that they have to follow the immoral orders coming down from the corrupt politicians is the reason these things happen.

  67. 81 Luis
    July 15, 2009 at 18:19

    Congratulations
    You managed to divert the real issue of Israel’s war crimes as reported by Israeli soldiers themselves and turned into ” everybody does it “, “war is war”.

    You deserve the Joseph Goebbels news award!

  68. 82 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 18:21

    So I take it, your guest would have refused to serve during WW2, given that even the British targetted civilians.

    I ask anyone, why would you join the military if you’re not willing to fight in a war? Were you trying to use it for the benefits, such as education benefits and retirement? Trying to milk the system but not have to fufil your obligations?

  69. 83 Roberto
    July 15, 2009 at 18:22

    RE “” So, is it possible to have a moral army “”
    —————————————————————————————————-

    ——— Morals are completely subjective. A sociopath has few morals to constrain him, where as others are so overburdened with morals they are functionally paralyzed in decision making, along with everyone else in between.

    In general, the IDF service is compulsory and draws across the full spectrum of Israel more so than other countries. Israel for all it’s critics has a viable and ethical democracy so that the IDF will reflect most of that diversity within Israel. That’s about as ethical and moral as you can get in an army, so thus we have periodic IDF members speaking out against actions not in their moral code.

    Compare to Hamas where speaking out against leadership could get you killed and your family impoverished for generations. Palestinians in general have regressed back in time to a tribal bloodletting culture which respects no morals pertaining to other tribes. We almost never see Palestinians publicly criticize officials except when people criticize for not providing protection from periodic Israeli actions.

    Certainly Hamas would never engage in this type of public self reflection since they’re adamant that Israel should only be wiped off the map.

  70. 84 Anthony
    July 15, 2009 at 18:24

    @ The U.S. soldier

    So you only listen to the U.S. govt. and do what they say? That’s what all the Nazi’s were saying during WWII, so keeping that in mind were those Nazi soldiers just in what they were doing?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • July 15, 2009 at 19:39

      To Anthony,

      I swore to my country, my leaders, and my constitution. I am not a soldier of NATO or the UN or any other governing body. I am a soldier of the US Army. I will do what my leaders say as long as it is legal and falls within the laws and regulations that we have in the USA.

  71. 86 Ken Sanderson
    July 15, 2009 at 18:25

    ” I was just following orders” seemingly did not absolve thousands of Germans from their crimes in World War 2, so I’d think really carefully before using that defense to absolve yourself of moral guilt or obligations in future or present conflicts. Ken/ San francisco, CA

  72. 87 Keith
    July 15, 2009 at 18:26

    Different people certainly have different moral codes. It seems to me that any God would not have any regard for trivialities such as political matters, which are the basis for most wars.

    Therefore, if you one believes himself to be ultimately accountable to a higher power, it is ultimately important for him to fundamentally believe that his cause is just enough to forgive whatever acts he commits in war.

    However, if one believes himself to simply be accountable to his own country, then he would find himself justified in following the chain of command.

  73. 88 John in Salem
    July 15, 2009 at 18:27

    Troy says that he follows the rules of his country and his leaders and no other rules of morality apply – if you follow legitimate orders you have no moral obligations beyond that.
    Such were the arguments at Nuremberg.

  74. July 15, 2009 at 18:29

    Because of the nature of an Army, I believe it requires soldiers to question the morality of decisions made by superiors more than any other profession. To see the results of an army of soldiers who do not question orders based on their morality, one only needs to look to 1940’s Nazi Germany as well as many other horrible examples throughout history.

  75. 90 Scott [M]
    July 15, 2009 at 18:30

    Is there ever a moral collective anything?

    +) If we speak of the people that comprise the army as individuals then no. You will never have a group of people who are all moral (whatever that means).

    +) If we speak of the mission (at one time) of a particular army, then you could perhaps say that mission is a moral necessity, and the army is presently acting from moral grounds.

    Armies are not inherently moral or immoral—just as no group ever is or theoretically could be.

  76. 91 Chrissy in Portland
    July 15, 2009 at 18:30

    @ Stephen in Portland… I agree

    Part of military training is to break down the soldiers and to build them up and turn them into killing machines. Having said that, what about honor? Isn’t that a code in the military?

    As far as atrocities committed by individual soldiers during war time, I believe that everyone has to be accountable for their actions. In the case of US soldiers abusing detainees at Gitmo, were the soldiers ordered to commit those despicable acts or were they in fact doing so of their own accord and actually enjoying it? Thinking back on the pictures released I remember a lot of smiling and “thumbs up” signs by the soldiers. Do I think they should be accountable for their actions, absolutely! Would they have committed these acts if they knew there would be severe consequences for their actions?

  77. 92 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 18:32

    So does it come down to a western country MUST follow all the rules, even when their opponent follows none of the rules, and only the western nation gets criticized for any deviation from the rules, and you completely ignore that the opponent follows none of the rules of war?

    • 93 patti in cape coral
      July 15, 2009 at 18:43

      If a western country wants to have any “moral” authority whatsoever, it must follow the rules and live up to its ideals, regardless of what the opponent does, otherwise, there is hardly any difference between the two.

  78. 94 Trevor
    July 15, 2009 at 18:34

    The Britt former soldier is suggesting that quitting was a moral act because he objected with the reasons for the war. I think he is fooling himself if he believes some of the political BS about why the US and UK went into Iraq, but that aside if you disagree wouldn’t you want to stop immoral acts from happening? You CAN”T do that from the outside. Those acts happen where the rubber meets the road, at the soldier level. If you really want to be effective at stopping immorality shouldn’t you put yourself in a position to stop it? I think he was afraid of both combat and reprisal and that is understandable. However to fool yourself so completely that you can come on a show like this and express a so obviously illogical course of action is silly.

  79. 95 Allan
    July 15, 2009 at 18:37

    Woah that Peter from NY is fired up. She wasn’t saying all Armies are on the same plain. She didn’t say anything about immorality of war. She’s asking a broad question under personal interpretation.

    As a current US soldier, I feel embarrassed by his misinterpretation of the question. The BROAD question is that is there a moral Army, if not, what makes a moral army?

    Jeez.

    Allan, OH

  80. July 15, 2009 at 18:37

    A New Zealand SAS officer complained to our then Minister of Defence (now leader of opposition) that the United States handling of detainees ‘was more robust’ than the New Zealand approach. He was assured that the practice observed was consistent with US procedures prior to internment in a detention facility and was satisfied that the treatment was not inhumane.

    Just a point to illustrate how the ethics of different armed forces are different.

  81. 97 John (Las Vegas)
    July 15, 2009 at 18:41

    Peter the American may be making a good point or two, but his arrogance and unwillingness to consider an alternate point of view is troubling.

    Peter should consider the morality of “collateral damage.”

    • 98 peter franklin
      July 15, 2009 at 19:13

      someone from las vegas is going to tell me about morality? to live in las vergas is not very moral where you have a city that promotes gambling, drinking and prostitution. my point was that the callateral damage in the united states army is a terrible accident. no one gets up in the morning and says lets go see how many civilians we can kill. there is no alternative view. as a new yorker i am honoroed to be called arrogant.

  82. 99 Jim L.
    July 15, 2009 at 18:41

    I think you need to define what you really mean by morality, when the function of any army is to kill and more often than not occupy territory against the will of the civilian population. This will inevitably lead to the abuses we see today.

    And comparing WW2 to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the occupation of Palestine is ingenuous, to say the least. Really, the western armies are just a reflection of the politicians that send them into battle. Thus, moral – I think not!

    • 100 Michel Norman
      July 15, 2009 at 21:29

      Jim L- Your comment is disengenious par excellence – Please justify the “terror bombing” of German cities in 1945 with the distinct objective of teaching the Hun a lesson, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths on purpose. The “occupation” of Palestine is a self-inflicted problem of the Palestinians. The occupation could have been over 9 years ago, it was the result of a defensive war fought against an Arab World whose war aim was quite literally a second holocaust. That is something that is quite different from Afghanistan and Iraq. And if WW2 was fought for the moral purpose of defending Poland, why was Poland abandoned at the end of the War. These allegations are being investigated, because the morality of our army is important to us. At the same time why do you not question the morality of people who refuse to accept their obligations under the Geneva convention.

  83. 101 Bilal Khan
    July 15, 2009 at 18:43

    I think there is no moral army in the world at the moment. If army is moral it shouldn’t not bomb from air like cowards on civilians but rather if it has courage it should go in and take out bad guys. Today mostly armies are killing innocent civilians all over the world.

  84. 102 John (Las Vegas)
    July 15, 2009 at 18:44

    Is it moral to place a person in a situation where he or she will do anything to survive?

    One should consider the immorality of placing soldiers in immoral situations. This is the clearest indictment of a “moral army.”

  85. 103 Neil
    July 15, 2009 at 18:44

    Peter, immoral tactics on the part of the enemy does not absolve you of your actions. If your enemy is fighting a dirty war, you can not claim a moral high ground if you are going to counter in a similarly deviant fashion. Tit-for-tat is no moral.

    • 104 peter franklin
      July 15, 2009 at 19:22

      take the wax out of your ears. i never said anything about tit for tat. if anyone under my command ever did anything wrong or i knew of any soldier who did anything wrong, i would see them in jail. the united states army is not the nigerian army or the afghanistan army or the pakistan army….represented on that show by three men who delight in killing people and oppressing their own population. i feel so dirty just being on the same show with them, that i shall now go shower.

  86. 105 Cris in El Paso, Texas
    July 15, 2009 at 18:46

    Instead of asking whether there are moral armies, maybe we should ask whether there are moral political leaders. They seem to be the ones that decide to go to war as a matter of policy not necessity.

    • 106 Jim L.
      July 15, 2009 at 19:43

      Exactly. The lies and manipulation surrounding the recent conflicts reflect a moral bankrucy not seen since – uuhm, the Borgias??

  87. 107 Stephen in Portland/Oregon
    July 15, 2009 at 18:47

    I worked with an Ex soldier who stated to me in casual conversation that his ambition in life is to kill a person over lunch. That to me would be the worst thing I could imagine, it’s all about how we are all wired I guess.

  88. 108 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 18:48

    @ Jim,

    what is wrong with comparing WW2 to Afghanistan or Iraq? All wars are the result of politics. If France and Britain really wanted to defeat the Germans, they would have ATTACKED Germany while Germany was fighting poland. In fact, they did NOTHING, just say there, in the phoney war. By their inaction, they caused the situation to get far worse and for many countries in western europe to be taken over by the nazis. ALL because of politics and an unwillingness to fight.

    How about WW1? Millions of people got killed because some Serb killed some Austrian and his wife? Moral?

    • 109 Jim L.
      July 15, 2009 at 19:56

      @ steve

      Uuuhm, yes. If you cannot tell the difference between what are essencially colonial wars fought for the control of resources and the ideological battle against fascism that took place in Europe during the 1930s/40s, then I cannot really help you. And yes, the the politicians did wait too long – simply because many were in fact sympathetic to Hitler and the nazi ideology!

  89. 110 Scott [M]
    July 15, 2009 at 18:49

    MORAL) of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical

    +) An army is not, nor can it be, moral or immoral—-any more then a rock can be. Is no one else getting the fallacious quality inherent in your question? The missions of armies or the individual actions of soldiers can be moral or immoral. But an army as a conceptual of physical group is not right or wrong—it is simply a group of sentient beings.

  90. 111 Mers (Newport, OR)
    July 15, 2009 at 18:51

    The only army that I can think of that in any way represents a “moral” army is the Salvation Army. Any army that engages in violence of any kind cannot be moral. Idealistic-yes, Moral-no.

  91. 112 Tom D Ford
    July 15, 2009 at 18:53

    I am always amazed at the mental twists and turns that military people put themselves through to try and justify to themselves the acts of evil that they have done.

    I agree with Dennis Kucinich that we need a Department of Peace. When some businessman promotes a war to steal someones resources we ought to have a countering power to War.

  92. 113 John (Las Vegas)
    July 15, 2009 at 18:53

    Again, the trauma that soldiers experience (PTSD) from combat is a clear sign that the experience of war violates their morality.

  93. 114 mountain adam in portland oregon usa
    July 15, 2009 at 18:54

    If an Army follows the Geneva Convention
    it is a moral Army. Spoken from an ex US
    Army soldier perspective.

  94. 115 Neil
    July 15, 2009 at 18:56

    Peter, combat soldiers are utterly crap if they kill any civilians. I don’t care want you say. I can not believe you never question and have no insight in to economic issues as you are not an economist.

    • 116 peter franklin
      July 15, 2009 at 19:26

      try again. i do not know what you are talking about? the only point about war is that it is a great way for stockholders like you to make a buck. i was merely advising the world that the individuals in the u.s. army are ethical and moral and if there are some bad ones we put them in jail. check your bank accounts and your stock portfolios and you will see how much money you are making on war. what is a economist? is that someone who studies mists?

  95. 117 matt lewis
    July 15, 2009 at 18:56

    There is a four day Winter Soldier hearings in Silver Springs Maryland in March of 2008, according to the testimony of dozens of US soldiers in Iraq atrocities they witnessed or participated in that indicated a structural problem in the US military and created an environment of lawlessness. Such crimes include targeting innocent unarmed civilians for murder or detention, destroying property, murder, severely abusing detainees and desecration of corpses. Many of these acts were carried out under orders of superior officers.

  96. 118 AWLinNC
    July 15, 2009 at 18:57

    North Carolina – Why stop at just the military? If you have an armed police force, by the same logic how can they be moral? Any organization is governed by rules of ethics. Some people violate those rules, but that does not make the entire organization immoral. Of course war is tragic, and many civilians die, which is why the justification for war must be sufficient to outweigh the tragic consequences.

    There is a good article in last week’s New Yorker about U.S. Army war crimes in Iraq from 2007. The remarkable thing is that when one lieutenant and one sergeant, in two incidents, ordered their men to murder civilians, most of them refused. The incident was reported, and the perpetrators have been brought to trial. Does this make the army moral or immoral?

  97. 119 Allan
    July 15, 2009 at 18:58

    I agree if you haven’t been in combat shouldn’t step in to decide what’s going on and what should happen. Our US Army has become more and more political each year and most of the problem is that we don’t have leadership with combat patches.

    I, personally, have to shake my head/swallow my pride, because I know it’s not the same training as what you practice in combat.

    Regardless, war is not moral, we were brought up to say, by all means don’t fight. It’s the last resolution. American laws are made to stop people from fighting, yet international laws says, “an eye for an eye, or they don’t want to talk, we’ll show them force.”

  98. 120 Scott [M]
    July 15, 2009 at 19:01

    One can speak about anything, whether they have personally experienced it or not. This is not up for debate! You don’t need to serve in an army to question the ethics of an armies actions. We need to evaluate the merits of actual arguments, which always supersede personal experience.

  99. 121 Lisa from Pennsylvania, US
    July 15, 2009 at 19:02

    Why was that British soldier in the armed forces in the first place if he doesn’t agree with war? It doesn’t make sense, that would be like an animal rights activist joining a lab that does testing on animals. I think its fine to speak up if you don’t agree with the specifics of what’s going on in the army/navy/airforce/etc, but just don’t join in the first place if you’re against the act of war as a whole.

  100. July 15, 2009 at 19:05

    In democracies, soldiers are employed by every citizen of their country. It is fair for these employers to expect a certain standard of behaviour from their employees.

    Soldiering isn’t easy, that’s why not everyone does it. If a soldier can’t handle the standards set for him or her by their non-combat compatriots, then they have no business being a soldier.

  101. 123 Tom D Ford
    July 15, 2009 at 19:05

    What strange arguments!

    To say that you aren’t qualified to judge the morality of an act unless you have committed that act?

    To say that an act is moral because just because they have committed that act? That is the Nixon argument that anything the President does is legal because he is the President, and in spite of the Constitution.

    It sure looks to me like these military men are very damaged humans. What kind of monsters have we created in our midst?

    What strange days we live in!

  102. 124 Keith
    July 15, 2009 at 19:06

    I don’t agree with the comment that George might be a coward. If you allow yourself to commit acts of war in the name of a cause that you disagree with then you have no moral high ground to distinguish committing acts of war from committing those same acts in a civilian context.

    However, I agree that you can’t posture and act morally superior to soldiers when you have absolutely no proof of how you, yourself, would react in a similar do-or-die situation. Offer criticism, not condemnation. We are lucky in that we have a military chain of command to criticize and hold accountable for orders given to soldiers, because oftentimes those soldiers aren’t able to know the full context of the mission they’re engaging in, and are forced to act according to their best judgment.

  103. 125 AWLinNC
    July 15, 2009 at 19:07

    It would be nice to have one discussion of ethics that did not involve the Nazis. There are substantive differences b/n different governments, armies, etc. Following ethical orders is very different from following unethical ones. Germans were indoctrinated under the Nazis that one could never refuse an order. U.S. and IDF soldiers, and others I’m sure, are taught in training that it is their duty to refuse an illegal order, as are other soldiers, I am sure. Murdering prisoners or intentionally killing civilians is illegal. Most U.S. troops go to extraordinary lengths to avoid killing civilians, sometimes putting their own lives at greater risk. Injured enemy combatants, who would not hesitate to kill civilians themselves, receive medical treatment right alongside wounded U.S. soldiers whom they were recently trying to kill. How can such an organization be branded as immoral or equivalent to the Nazis in any sensible way?

  104. 126 Cris in El Paso, Texas
    July 15, 2009 at 19:07

    Funny how combat soldiers don’t want to be judge by anyone that has not been in combat, but they quickly judge anyone else. I wonder if they ever think of what it feels like to be a victim of their combat? Empathy is a useful concept. I may not know what it is like to be a soldier in combat, but that soldier does not know what it is like to be a victim of their combat either. Moreover, I am constantly asked to support those soldiers, even though I am never truly told what they are doing. Maybe when they stop pretending that they are “defending” me (which I never asked them to do anyhow) I will stop criticizing the military. Until then, don’t ask for my support and then tell me to shout up.

    If you want my tax money, my admiration, and my applause, then be willing to accept what I feel and think is the right thing to do. Since that does not happen now, don’t expect my support.

  105. 127 Tom D Ford
    July 15, 2009 at 19:11

    The argument that you cannot judge the morality of an act unless you have committed that act would mean that nobody is qualified to judge what the Nazi Einsatzgruppen did to the Jews in the Shoah-Holocaust!

    No! That argument does not hold up in daylight.

  106. 128 Jennifer
    July 15, 2009 at 19:12

    Re: Is it possible to have a moral army?

    Maybe that depends on how one defines “moral”.

    When I think of war and how morals are applied to issues surrounding war I prioritize. War is war and as cold as it sounds there is a risk of innocent lives being lost. First and foremost soldiers should ensure their personal safety and that of their fellow soldiers.

    Freedom is NOT free! Democracy does not happen overnight! You can’t pluck peace out of the air. It’s just not going to work and only those in denial think that we will achieve “peace” by “talking”. There are issues that divide cultures and geographic regions that are significant obstacles to elusive “peace”.

    Some tactics used during war by those like Hamas who blatantly exploit civilians by using them as human shields. confiscating aid, etc are immoral. These are deplorable tactics. I think Israel is a “moral” army. They are within their rights to protect themselves. Hamas knows that it can distort the killing of innocents and many will fault Israel; that’s what terrorism is all about. They want to achieve their “goals”.

  107. 129 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 19:14

    @ Neil

    Peter, combat soldiers are utterly crap if they kill any civilians

    I hope you are perfect and have NEVER made a mistake in your entire life, otherwise you have no business criticing others for making errors. Nobody is defending anyone who is deliberately killing civilians. You don’t understand the difference between deliberate and accidental.

  108. 130 steve
    July 15, 2009 at 19:16

    @ Matt, given you don’t even know that it’s SILVER SPRING, MD, how do I know what you’re talking about in the rest of your comment? So there wa sa conference in a place that doesn’t exist, saying the US is horrible and deliberately kills civilians?

  109. 131 Tom D Ford
    July 15, 2009 at 19:18

    If it is moral to commit war to steal resources, then is isn’t it also equally moral to murder people while burglarizing their home to steal their TV?

    Conditional morality is a very weird thing to contemplate.

  110. 132 Justin from Iowa
    July 15, 2009 at 19:19

    @steve:

    Yes, whether your enemies respects the “rules of war” as we choose to hold them up, we must maintain them. Because we have to look at ourselves in the mirror, we have to live with ourselves afterwords, and if we become what we are fighting then we have ultimately lost. You cannot fight evil with more evil. If you give up your humanity to win, you sacrifice too much!

  111. 133 James, London
    July 15, 2009 at 19:25

    If the law for a civilian doesn’t say anything about not doing something immoral, should we still do it? What if murder wasn’t against the law?

    Just because there are no rules in the military that say we should bomb certain places doesn’t mean we SHOULD go along with bombing anywhere the government proclaims war!

  112. July 15, 2009 at 19:30

    If killing is immoral,there can be no moral killers and therefore no moral armies. However,a soldiers duty is to the oath he/she takes on joining. If they are pacifist they could always go to prison for their beliefs,as did Muhammed Ali and Bertrand Russel. I stated in an earlier message that in war. The end justifies the means. I still believe that to be true.And if it is not true,let us keep our white flsgs handy. Volumes have been written about morals and ethics and to what avail?

  113. July 15, 2009 at 19:34

    I don’t think the issue of whether war is definitively immoral has really been answered- it’s merely a rhetorical point so far. Is it possible for a war to be moral? Yes- although, like all morals, that’s a social constraint.

    How a person acts in war also isn’t definitively immoral or amoral. Self defense is moral.

    I haven’t been a soldier, but I have been in fire fights, I have had bombs go off around me. I don’t need to be a combat soldier to have an opinion on being in battle, I have the necessary experience. Soldiers who think otherwise are deluded by their common experience with each other- I would posit that it’s a lot worse to be a civilian who doesn’t have any armed fellows helping you and shooting back. Soldiers only have to deal with the act of fighting back, but have no monopoly on the experience of battle.

    Having fought enough I can also point out that it’s easier for me to fight than to watch a fight. One is a focused action, the other is a helpless one.

  114. 136 John LaGrua/New York
    July 15, 2009 at 20:12

    The behavior of an army reflects the values of a nation.When excesses occur those responsible must be accountable ,otherwise we slid into barbarism.It is a fundamental issue of morality and those who defend criminal actions have another agenda i.e to excuse the prupertrators for a not so obscure reason.It is all too easy to be hypocritical ,demonizing one’s adversaries to justify war crimes.against them.Isreal in Gaza and Palestine as a whole is a Holocaust to the Palestinians ,tens of thousands murdered and millions forced to flee into exile. and no amount of sophistry can justify it any more than the same action by the Nazis toward the Jews in Europe can be made acceptable..Nurenburg was intended to punish war criminals and the definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity applies universally.The recent non-binding resolution by US Congress supporting Isreal action in Gaza shows how far the moral standards of the US have been compromised by the Isreal Lobby An army given immoral license ultimately sows the seeds of it’s own and it’s country’s destruction John Dunne said it “Ask not for whom the bell tolls.It tolls for thou.”

    • 137 Michel Norman
      July 18, 2009 at 06:24

      With due respect there is a complete contradiction in what you say, you talk of tens of thousands murdered and millions forced into exile and then compare it with millions murdered and tens of thousands who managed to escape. Some of us do not buy the Palestinian narrative that Israel was created in order to compensate the Jews for the Holocaust, because in the final analysis, the declaration of war by the Arab world, rendered the UN vote meaningless and Israel was essentialy created by the stubborn willpower of 600,000 Israelis facing the combined might of the Arab world. There were not millions of refugees, there were about 350,000 “Palestinian” refugess (Palestine nationalism was not invented until the 1960’s) and about 300,000 recent Arab immigrants who had immigrated into the land in the wake of the economic developments in the Jewish sector. There were at the same time 750,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands who you conveniently forget. The only link with the holocaust was the part paid by the “Palestinian” leader the Grand Mufti, that moral man, who encouraged Hitler to kill more Jews and during his time in Berlin during the Second world war, also recruited Muslim troops for hitler’s moral war.

  115. 138 ARTHUR NJUGUNA
    July 15, 2009 at 20:15

    It was said once ‘Never again’. But do the succeeding generation of power hungry politicians and armies adhere to this?

    Once there was a Hitler with his killing machine. We rightly abhored him. Look what happened. He became a metorphor which replicated itself everywhere. Hitlers all over the place some of them not two foot size yet. Some child soldiers in Africa and elsewhere can only drag the gun on the ground since they have no enough strength to load it on the shoulder. What qualifications of leadership does the world need? Power thirsty politicians? Socialogists? Anthropologists? Philosophers, Demonized individuals? Will women make a difference? Its never too late to ask ourselves what went wrong.

    As we speak, some governments are not government but baracks for military. Where is the end and the moral?

  116. 139 Ilan
    July 15, 2009 at 20:17

    Killing is not – in itself immoral – murder is. Sadly there are some very bad people in this world. Many people these days refuse to face the facts. Hamas, Hizbollah, Al-Qeda, the Mullahs in Iran, the nut-job in N. Korea. They torture and murder by design and not amount of wishing and hoping is going to change them. I’ll bet you can guess at what the answer is!!!

  117. 140 Marco Polsen
    July 15, 2009 at 22:49

    Good evening –

    I’m a bit disappointed that the podcast for this show hasn’t been published tonight. Would you mind inquiring with your web team as to the cause for this delay and, hopefully, a quick solution? Thank you very much in advance for your help. Ragrds,

    Marco

  118. July 15, 2009 at 23:10

    Hi WHYSers!
    The distinctions are, in a way, artificial. This is not to suggest that the answers to the questions, or even the questions themselves may not be valid. On the contrary, so long as one is part of an organisation like the military, regardless of its moral code, then those values become, in effect, the values of those who serve. This is not to say there cannot be distinctions, however, it seems reasonable to suggest that where one continues to be part of an institution with the explicit purpose of defending a nation, a group, etc., sometimes at all costs, then that means the soldier makes the army. This is especially where instances/ charges like war crimes are either denied without as much as an investigation of the claims, or glib responses are often given without consideration for the possibility of such occurrences.

    In the case of the ethics of those who commit certain acts, it seems reasonable to also question the motives, interests, values and ideologies of those who command them. An army is not an institution apart from itself, even where there are exceptional cases that seem to go against its beliefs. This is why it has rules and regulations and codes of conduct to ensure that all are following the same script – from top to bottom and at all times!

  119. 142 Nigel
    July 15, 2009 at 23:23

    Cheers Madeline….great show….difficult subject. Sad to hear the American combat Vets who put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms of others seemingly interpreting the comments against war and the ” immoral” role of soldiers as cowardice or betrayal to the horrors that they were exposed to. “The drums no longer roll, the muskets are silent, but the war in my head continues.”

  120. 143 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 16, 2009 at 00:26

    @Tom D Ford

    [It sure looks to me like these military men are very damaged humans.
    What kind of monsters have we created in our midst?]
    Damaged in deed!!!

    From the program today the soldiers from different countries represented today all seem to be mindless, uncaring ,robotic and brainwashed humans. They reminded me of the Taliban an Al Qaeda members who are also intractable in their beliefs and philosophies.

    I could be wrong but that is the impression I got.

  121. 144 Archibald
    July 16, 2009 at 01:32

    Are people trying to answer the question or just rationalizing the morality of wars waged for causes they agree with, which, in the vast number of posts, tends to outweigh the overall immorallity of all war, ultimately helping people to justify killing. If you declare war, then, you are or will soon be complicit in mass murder. If we can accept this fact, there would be no more debate and maybe people would find another way to solve problems.

  122. 145 John O'Donnell
    July 16, 2009 at 09:18

    How an army behaves will depend on a numer of factors. With the Israelis there are two that militate against civilised behaviour. The first is that they know that whatever war crimes they may commit there is no chance anyone will stand trial, the US will see to that. The second is that Israel is a racist state, the parallels to apartheid South Africa are striking. If you believe your enemy is racially inferior it makes it much easier to commit atrocities.

    • 146 Michel Norman
      July 16, 2009 at 14:49

      John what an incredible post- now lets look at the facts. You are writing about a conflict in which one side had a “moral” attitude of lets take the fighting into the midst of our own people so as to cause maximum casualties, lets ignore the geneva convention and lets fire our rockets exclusively at civilians – but that is alright in your books. Our army investigates and where necessary puts people on trial. Considerable amounts of time are spent in training explaining to soldiers who are going to be put in impossible moral situation that they have to act morally and if necessary to disobey orders to do so. The Palestinians are lucky that they are fighting an army that does have moral standards, the British would have expelled them to Eritrea and the Nazis would have lined them up against a wall and shot them. You then take one multicultural society,which has Arab members of parliament, equal rights and compare it to an authority which specifically declares that its territory is Judenrein, and call us nazi’s and apartheid. You quite simply do not have a clue about what you are writing about.

  123. July 16, 2009 at 13:35

    I served 5 years in the US Army, During the time of Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

    I can say that the soldiers I served with had moral conscience in everything that we did. Our company never harmed a single civilian or took anything that was not ours. Unlike the terrorists and insurgents, we follow the rules of war, even when we are at its disadvantage.

    Even today, We were not the ones blowing up groceries stores or cafes. It was the local peoples own countrymen doing this.

  124. 148 Tom D Ford
    July 16, 2009 at 16:45

    I encourage the soldiers on here to search out the essay that Marine Brigadier General Smedly Butler wrote entitled “War Is A Racket”.

    It is an eye opening piece and it is obvious to me that far too many soldiers eyes remain closed about what they actually are sent to war for.

  125. July 16, 2009 at 19:02

    Well people are talking about moral armies ,as soldiers trained for years how to kill and then we introduce rules of war.i do not think a soldier should be blamed for being sent to fight a war legal or illegal, the leaders (country leaders) should pay that price.

  126. 150 john ib Germany
    July 17, 2009 at 08:21

    Service men and women are the enforcers and protectors of the people. That is what the politicians will have us to believe.

    All of the worlds Servicemen and woman are the safety valve when the politicians fail. Service men and woman by degree, have to obey orders, if they do not they will be charged, and punished for disobeying orders, that applies for all grades.
    The result of this system is that armies are as moral or un-moral as the politicians that give the orders, through the ministers of defence ect.

    As in all walks of life the pressure may become so high that some service people break the rules. We are not in the position to judge, and no-one but no-one sitting in a arm chair, in a court, or on some medium programme has the right to judge our service people, unless he or she was there.

    i wonder that military guards that face daily provocation, that are tested to the limit do not break down more often. Knowing that those that they guard are sometimes mass murderers, responsible for the deaths of comrades, and worse still women and children.

    Simple isn’t it. If all politicians were interested in thier own people. The greedy and corrupt ones came clean, then our service people could afford to have morals on duty. There are so many good ones, but they seem to be in the minority in some countries.

    Thought for the day. If utopia came, can you plough fields with a tank.

    Greetings
    John in Germany.

  127. 151 John LaGrua/New York
    July 17, 2009 at 17:45

    A country that institutionalises brutality is ultimately doomed since that lapse of moral conscience not only corrupts it’s soldiers but infects the civil society as well.War ,itslf is a dehumanizing experience and can leave lasting scars on those involved.Young lives are mishapen by the action of politicians ,older but rarely wiser.By dehumanizing others one becomes bestial and the dignity of all human beings is deminished . Rationalizing brutality is a trap for fools and those who do so are thoroughly corrupt To talk of human rights and violate those very principles leads to the vengeance of the gods .The survival of the West is dependent on rejection of the slide into barbaric behavior Punishment of those who demean humanity must mean more than being voted out of office or defated in war .After WW II the Nazi and jJapanese leaders were tried for war crimes and a number executed .The same standard of legal acountability must apply to all or become an empty charade.

  128. 152 Vijay Pillai
    July 18, 2009 at 20:31

    It is pathetic that world has moved from defending armies with sense of fairlpay and morals to one at present surrounded my immoral army. To me this a simple to explaim. if one is a smoker ans surrounded by smokers and polluted enviromnent(those who allow mimmorality flurish and turn a blind eye), whe would not know or the experiences of non smokers living and enjoying clean and green environment.

    Armies are supposed to fight the enemy and not kill the innocents amd not rape the girls of enemy and the cnace of recocilation is lost,the scar would be there fro generation. In this respect,one should take the hats off to some israli soldiers who after 4 decades of fight and killing palestinian civilans want to move from the past ways and repent. That is as good as giving up smoking. Sl soldiers are know for so many attrocities agaist the eelam tamils,which was evident from the fact in vanni as well as theri services abroad as peace keepers, some accused of raping as well in recent times,no morality there.

  129. 153 baaroo
    July 20, 2009 at 01:49

    Soldiers are like robots, programmed to execute commands, their brains have been transformed to operate like a microcontroller, they are programmed to kill, and are power hungry themselves. Those issuing the commands, the politicians, themselves lack moral judgement and focuses exclusively on power or wealth or both. Like in the times of Noah and his red sea crossing, it is impossible to have a moral army. History is there to look at for proof, history is cyclic.

  130. July 20, 2009 at 15:32

    I’m sorry but if Amnesty International did any good, rather than pour water on the oil fire that is the middle east, they would speak out purely against the illegal and enraging abuses of human rights inflicted by the Israelis on the Palestinian people when they invaded Gaza as a reminder to its own people to vote in the comming elections. I have never heard a story of a Palestinian taking over their own home (again) and defecating on an evicted Israelis furnishings having mortered a school where the Israelis childrens friends were seeking refuge only for that Israeli family to be killed by hellfire missiles (Apatche Helicopter) as they flee in terror by ambulance.


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