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May 8, 2004

So it’s Come Down to This

From Mazar-i-Sharif to Guantanamo to … , we’ve seen this one coming, haven’t we? We’ve just been in denial.

“As I understand it, technically unlawful combatants do not have any rights under the Geneva Conventions.”
— Donald Rumsfeld, January 11, 2001

Perhaps some MPs will be court-martialed. And some mid-level officers will take early retirement. But pinning the blame on a few “aberrant” troops (it’s always someone else to blame, isn’t it?) won’t cut it this time. As Brad DeLong would have it, the fish rots from the head.

Four More Years?
Posted by distler at May 8, 2004 1:11 AM

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Re: So it’s Come Down to This

Wonder how soon the soldiers involved in these abuse scandals will be using the “I was just following orders” defense, that seemed to be a popular excuse during the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis after World War 2.

It would be interesting when one day Rumsfeld and his cronies start writing their memoirs and they unintentionally say the same thing as the notorious Hermann Goering (2nd in command to Hitler in the Nazi regime):

“Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Posted by: JC on May 8, 2004 3:08 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: So it’s Come Down to This

Eh. Just noticed this article today

Some soldiers involved in the abuse scandals are already preparing to use the “I was just following orders” Nuremberg style defense.

Posted by: JC on May 8, 2004 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: So it’s Come Down to This

But “I was following orders” isn’t quite the same as “I was just following orders”.

Note the context: everyone knows what the soldiers did, but it’s not yet clear what commanding officers knew about it, or whether they ordered it. But many soldiers have been forbidden to tell the media what orders they received. The DoD is not being forthcoming about how far up the chain of command knowledge and the orders went. The ideal outcome for the DoD is that a couple of dozen soldiers and contractors at the bottom of the chain get punished and the investigation stops there.

So the courts-martial might become an important way of getting to the truth about this. That is, if they’re not all held in secret…

Posted by: Thomas Dent on May 10, 2004 9:26 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

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