Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
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26-02-2012, 12:18 PM (This post was last modified: 27-02-2012 04:52 PM by Zat.)
Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
I have never been in any army, so I don’t have a personal experience.

The assumption though is that, once you are in the army, you have to follow orders, regardless weather you agree with the ethical nature of the orders or not.

In a sense you suspended your own personal morality and placed it into the hands of people all over on the chain of command: from your immediate superior in the army to the president and the congress itself.

We know from history that horribly unethical decisions have been made on this chain, over and over and, you, as a soldier, have to carry them out, no matter how unethical and downright evil those decisions and orders were.

My question to those who volunteered to the army is the following:

How can you live with this exposure of having to perform potentially evil and unethical duties, just because you suspended your right to protest.

How can you live with this – does it ever bother you?

Did you ever have an instant when you regretted joining the army that forced you to do things you would have never done by your own volition (like firing white phosphorus shells at civilians - including children - in Fellujah)?

ETA:

From Wikipedia:


Quote:On November 15, 2005, Dept. of Defense spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Venable confirmed to the BBC that white phosphorus had been used as an incendiary antipersonnel weapon in Fallujah
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26-02-2012, 10:07 PM
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
What country do you live in, man? I feel like you grew up on Nazi documentary videos.

Two deployments to several cities, probably an estimated 200 fire fights... I can't think of a single time where I was "forced to perform unethical duties." Not once.

I am close friends with all my leadership, all the way up to my 1st SGT and we hung out and had barbecues all the time. An immoral command would never have even made it to me, because my Staff Sgt would have told the 1st Sgt to go fuck himself, which he tells him on a regular basis for minor orders that he deems unfair, like having our platoon cleaning duties for the third day in a row.

You do not HAVE to do anything in the army. This is not the Nazi SS or Sadam's Republican Guard. The worst you will get is "Failure to Obey a Lawful Order" which at most will get you a court martial. But since the board would consist of your fellow soldiers, you likely just get an Article 15 (nonjudicial punishment, aka extra duty).

Soldiers disobey orders all the time. On my tank, if the gunner ever felt uneasy about pulling the trigger, the tank commander could do it from his station so that he took all the blame. No one ever has to do anything they don't want to. And the poor defenseless children were usually the ones throwing the grenades. Sometimes you have to do what's necessary to save your own life and the life of your crew.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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26-02-2012, 11:40 PM
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
I think that almost every decision is potentially unethical, volunteering for the military fall in that category, but as buddy christ said, there's room for ethical behaviour within the military also. I think that ultimately the moral of the decision must be judged upon your own moral beliefs.
I never volunteered and never will because I believe that doing so endorses an institution that I think is essentially unethical, but I understand there may be other points of view in the matter that don't get to that conclusion.

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27-02-2012, 04:25 PM
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
Through nearly all of human history, this would be a meaningless question.
The morality of the common man (man, with only rare exceptions, until very, very recently) was, perforce the morality of the hierarchy towering over him. Military service was not a personal choice; nor was one's belief system.
Of course a soldier is bound to subordinate his conscience to the commanders - as he has subordinated his faith to the priests, his work to his masters, his loyalty to the nation and his fealty to the sovereign. No conflict: right was what his betters told him; everyone in the nations shard the same attitude. If soldiers dwelt much on the ethical permutations of massacring the enemy, it wasn't prominently reported. Even the concept of war crime, or crime against humanity, is only recent.
The odd soldier may recoil from some atrocity, but he's executed and that's the end of it. If he commits an atrocity that's either not ordered or later denied by the army brass, he's executed and that's the end of it. If he carries it out an atrocious order and his side loses the war, he's executed along with with the officer...

Problems arise when a civilization is in decline, because one earmark of decline is the dissociation of the ruling class from the populace. The philosophical tenets on which governance is based are still enshrined and cited, but no longer standard practice: the elite have long exempted themselves from the law; the clerical and trading classes pay lip service in public and cheat in private; the proletariat is still largely law-abiding and patriotic, though insecure, and the disillusioned, dispossessed class is growing. In empires, there is also, by this stage, a bloc, or several blocs of conquered, transplanted aliens, with different belief systems and only tenuous ties of loyalty to the regime. The military also divides into ranks by class; vertical cohesion and moral continuity breaks along at least three, and perhaps as many as six or seven interfaces.

If there is imperial expansion at this stage, the army can sponge up a lot of disgruntled urban poor and landless peasant boys who would otherwise become criminals or rebels. These troops require close watching; distrust and sometimes disrespect the officers - though they usually forge internal solidarity.
Now, if orders go against the common grain of the lowest ranks, there can be fragging, desertion, mutiny.... or worse; an army may overthrow the government.
If revolution is already fomenting in the homeland, the most volatile situation is when the army is ordered to attack the citizens. Police do it with practiced ease by this stage, because the structure and recruitment of police reflects the incremental shifts in governing style, but the army is shielded behind simplistic moral precepts: them vs us. If the us for which they have been fighting suddenly becomes the them .... well, you see the impending inner crisis.
It's all about identity, not morality.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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27-02-2012, 05:02 PM (This post was last modified: 27-02-2012 05:54 PM by Zat.)
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
(26-02-2012 10:07 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  And the poor defenseless children were usually the ones throwing the grenades. Sometimes you have to do what's necessary to save your own life and the life of your crew.

Totally against my better judgement:

Nobody asked you to be there. You defied the international community and lied your way to war to your own people.

You were the invading army -- what the fuck did you expect? Angry

Just take a look at those burnt bodies in the link I provided and be proud of what your army did.

ETA:

See at:

Quote:The use of such incendiary weapons against civilian targets is banned by international treaty. The debate was reignited last week when an Italian documentary claimed Iraqi civilians - including women and children - had been killed by terrible burns caused by WP.

WP means "White Phosphorus".
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27-02-2012, 05:12 PM
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
It's important to understand the purpose of the military. No one is going to agree with every order they are given. But you follow that order because the system is designed the way it is for a damn good reason. I don't agree with every Ron Paul policy but easily agree he's the best man for the job. I also don't/didn't agree with every order I was given but I followed it because in the end it's the US Military keepign the world in check. We may not be great at it but without us there would be far worse happenings in this world.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.”

-Mark Twain
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28-02-2012, 02:44 AM
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
(27-02-2012 05:02 PM)Zat Wrote:  
(26-02-2012 10:07 PM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  And the poor defenseless children were usually the ones throwing the grenades. Sometimes you have to do what's necessary to save your own life and the life of your crew.

Totally against my better judgement:

Nobody asked you to be there. You defied the international community and lied your way to war to your own people.

You were the invading army -- what the fuck did you expect? Angry

Just take a look at those burnt bodies in the link I provided and be proud of what your army did.

ETA:

See at:

Quote:The use of such incendiary weapons against civilian targets is banned by international treaty. The debate was reignited last week when an Italian documentary claimed Iraqi civilians - including women and children - had been killed by terrible burns caused by WP.

WP means "White Phosphorus".


I know what White Phosphorus is and I've seen the dead and burned bodies of undeserving children close up. I also see you've mined the only quote in that article that serves your side. The rest seems to support me.


Quote:The assault upon Fallujah, 40 miles from Baghdad, took place over a two-week period last November. US commanders said the city was an insurgent stronghold. Civilians were ordered to evacuate in advance. Around 50 US troops and an estimated 1,200 insurgents were killed. How many civilians were killed is unclear. Up to 300,000 people were driven from the city.

So before even attacking the city, the civilians were ordered to evacuate.


Quote:Mr Mortenson also watched the mortar team fire into a group of buildings where insurgents were known to be hiding. In an email, he confirmed: "During the fight I was describing in my article, WP mortar rounds were used to create a fire in a palm grove and a cluster of concrete buildings that were used as cover by Iraqi snipers and teams that fired heavy machine guns at US choppers."

Quote:The use of incendiary weapons such as WP and napalm against civilian targets - though not military targets - is banned by international treaty.

So the military evacuated the city, then during firefights where they were taking direct fire from heavy cover, they used a napalm-like weapon to clear the building and sometimes there was collateral damage in the form of civilian casualties. So what's the problem? I'll kill an enemy in the most efficient method possible, but if the firefight is dragging on and I can't improve my position, hell yes I'll drop some fire on their ass. These men are actively trying to end my life. I'm not going to risk dying because the only method I have of ending the fight isn't humane enough.

Several times during Iraq we returned fire on insurgents who fired RPG's at us from buildings. And since we are a tank crew, our return fire destroyed the entire building, killing several innocent civilians in the process. Is it my fault that the man choosing to engage an enemy tank chose an occupied building as his cover?

Back to the original story, no one ordered those soldiers to fire phosphorus at women and children. They were using the tools they had available to kill the people trying to kill them. War sucks.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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28-02-2012, 05:10 AM (This post was last modified: 28-02-2012 07:38 AM by Zat.)
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
(28-02-2012 02:44 AM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  ... no one ordered those soldiers to fire phosphorus at women and children.

You were ORDERED to go there in the first place.

It was an extremely unethical order and you had to obey because by volunteering to serve in the military you suspended your own ethical judgment.

A few brave and ethical soldiers disobeyed and suffered the consequences.

(28-02-2012 02:44 AM)Buddy Christ Wrote:  War sucks.

It was NOT a war.

It was an invasion of a country, on the other side of the planet, minding its own business.

Attacking and invading another country, who has no means to defend herself against you (other than children throwing grenades at you) sucks a hell of a lot more.

And you had to 'defend' yourself against those children by burning them alive with white phosphorus shells that were made conveniently available to you by your army.

My heart is really bleeding for you. Rolleyes

But that's quite all right because, after all, I am only a bleeding-heart liberal. Big Grin
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28-02-2012, 07:48 AM
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
Zat, you just don't seem to get situational ethics.
Every situation man creates has its own set of ethics accompanying. The army - each army - has its very own ethical system, constructed specifically for the kind of situation in which that army is expected to operate, with no reference to before and after, else or because.

The soldier has to use the weapons available, just as the worker in the munitions factory had to make the weapons being made, just as the engineer had to design the weapons being commissioned, just as the scientist had to invent the next deadly compound - each inside his own situation: battle, economy, state of technology, political climate or whatever.

Besides, if they didn't burn kids, the world would instantly revert to the chaos and anarchy that prevailed before the US rose to world power.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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28-02-2012, 07:55 AM (This post was last modified: 28-02-2012 08:04 AM by Zat.)
RE: Is volunteering for the military a potentially unethical decision?
(28-02-2012 07:48 AM)Peterkin Wrote:  Zat, you just don't seem to get situational ethics.

Peterkin, I do get it.

It is the defense of the rapist: "Your honour, I had to beat her to death -- I was only defending myself because she was scratching my face while I was raping her".

And, by 'rapist', I don't mean the soldiers who are only partially to blame (for irresponsibly suspending their ethical judgement when they volunteered) -- but all those who created the situation in the first place, for obviously cynical and self-serving reasons.

Once the soldiers were there, on the ground, they were screwed no matter what they did.

Might as well burn a few children alive to get out of it unhurt. Angry
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