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Court Martial of RAF Dr who rejected Iraq tour.

  1. Apr 13, 2006 #1
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/li...Homepage&icl=TabModule&icc=Doctor guilty&ct=5

    On the one hand technically the war in Iraq is illegal, on the other a soldier has a duty to his country. Of course the army couldn't do anything but find him guilty or open the floodgates on simillar cases, but does the RAF officer have a point? Having allready served two tours there I doubt he's just trying to get an easy ticket out and I'm sure he believes in what he is saying. What do you think?
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2006 #2


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    What exactly seperates a "legal war" from an "illegal war" anyhow? I didn't know there was some sort of all-powerful non-corrupting entity in existance that was allowed to make laws governing what countries can declare war and what countries can't and what regulations must be followed when attacking other societies.

    Kinda backwards to think this entity is the "UN" since half of their security council was being payed off by the Iraqi government for years.
  4. Apr 13, 2006 #3
    Well yes but 145/191 of the UN's member countries refused to support the US in it's plans for war, so the UN declared against the US. I'm sure those countries were well aware of Iraqs actions. The US chose to ignore the UN's resolution thus it is illegal. That said I don't think the majority of the world's countries being neutral or against the war is an issue, the issue is, is this sufficient grounds for refusing to obey an order?
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  5. Apr 13, 2006 #4
    The Iraq war is against the UN charter. Your comment on what individual countries did with respect to Oil for food, is irrelevant IMO. Its like saying, because one Judge is bent and does something wrong, the whole judicial system in a country is thus obsolete. The war is internationaly recongnised within the international UN treaties as being unlawful.

    I dont think so, if he joined the military and was ordered to do something he is obliged by the military law to do as ordered. However it is a very interesting point he has. For example if he was ordered to murder civilans (which would be an unlawful order) then he would have grounds to ignore the order.. Could the same be said about what he has done here?
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  6. Apr 13, 2006 #5
    Yes it's called the UN and your country was instrumental in founding it and it's ideals:-

    We the Peoples of the United Nations Determined
    to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

    to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

    to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

    to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

    And for these Ends

    to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and

    to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and

    to ensure by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and

    to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

    Have Resolved to Combine our Efforts to Accomplish these Aims

    Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

    The Purposes of the United Nations are:
    1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

    2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

    3. To achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

    4. To be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  7. Apr 13, 2006 #6


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    The summing up of the judge advocate was interesting;
    The armed forces in their enthusiasm to make an example of him seem to have forgotten that at Nuremberg soldiers were convicted of war crimes and hanged when the judges there ruled that "I was just following orders" was not a valid defence. The ruling said then that it was incumbent upon soldiers to refuse illegal orders.

    It seems this court-martial neatly side-stepped the issue of whether or not the war itself was illegal which was central to the defence. Perhaps this aspect will get a better (and fairer) hearing at the appeal.
  8. Apr 13, 2006 #7
    Yeh, I aggree. Could set a presidence, if the ruling was overturned.. No doubt some judges out there with an axe to grind against the Iraq war will speak up.. Hope so!!!!

    Incorrect to who, and which laws. He should appel to the European courts, if the occupation of Iraq in the viewpoint of the british judical system is not unlawful, within the framework of the EU judical system the Iraq war could be found as Unlawful, and thus he maybe found NOT guilty, what a political scandal that would cause...

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  9. Apr 13, 2006 #8


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    Those are the presiding Judge's comments in judgement. I find it fascinating to consider how ironic these words become when you consider the precise nature of the prosecution used by the same courts in going after German Officers during the Nuremberg trials.
  10. Apr 13, 2006 #9


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    I suppose if the doctor felt strongly, then he should have resigned his commission in protest, thus doing it legally. However, perhaps he chose to make a strong statement - sort of civil disobedience.

    In the US, one can elect a 'conscientious objector' status, but joining the military, of which one function is war, seems a bit contradictory.

    On the other hand, a doctor presumably would not be engaged in the violence of war, but simply administer medical treatment, so a doctor should be able to declare himself a 'conscientious objector', assuming there is such a provision in the British military.
  11. Apr 13, 2006 #10


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    Just because he believes that or you believe that, doesn't make it true. A court would have to rule the war illegal. And the court in this case ruled that his orders were legal. It did not rule on whether the invasion itself was illegal because the question was irrelevant: the defendant was not ordered to take part in the invasion, and ruled that at the time the orders were given the coalition presence was "unquestionably legal".

    Reading some of his statements in the article, it sounds to me like he is a candidate for a psychiatric discharge anyway. Though that could just be a defense tactic.
  12. Apr 13, 2006 #11


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    Come again? Which resolution did the US ignore? The only relevant resolution for this conversation I know of was 1441 and it passed unanamously.

    HERE is a list. Which resolutions are you talking about?

    Edit: in fact, 1483 recognizes the US and UK as occupying powers, implying approval of the occupation (without mentioning the invasion). It also states that Iraq is still a threat, but one that has improved - implying progress toward the goal of 1441 (eliminating the threat Iraq posed). Resolution 1500 has the UN taking part in the assistance portion of the mission in Iraq. 1511 goes further to authorize UN security forces - which is the very mission that this guy was court martialed for not participating in.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  13. Apr 13, 2006 #12


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    Not true, Art. At Nuremberg, the court ruled that the orders were illegal. In this case, the court ruled that the orders were legal. The cases are not comparable.
    I don't think so at all. I think the question is more complicated than people want it to be because some phases might be legal while others illegal.
  14. Apr 13, 2006 #13


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    Incorrect to the court who made the ruling (obviously) and according to British and international (UN) law - as stated in the article.
    I'm not clear on how the EU works, but I wouldn't expect them to have jurisdiction here.
  15. Apr 13, 2006 #14


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    Agreed, though we don't really know the terms of his service.

    I don't think the conscientious objector thing applies, though - he didn't say he objected to the concept of war, just this war.
  16. Apr 13, 2006 #15

    I did already say this.

    That said I don't think the majority of the world's countries being neutral or against the war is an issue, the issue is, is this sufficient grounds for refusing to obey an order?

    The UN deemed the war illegal, the US and the UK ignored them and fought it anyway(so yes technically, it is deemed illegal) let's not get hung up on semantics please.


    Unless this man is lying of course. This is what I meant.

    Anyway as I said and you reiterated, it's beside the point. Legal or not: is this grounds for disobeying an order?
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  17. Apr 13, 2006 #16
    ehh? The question is NOT irrelevant, it is totally revelent. His WHOLE defence is based on that fact! If the war is Illegal, then he is totally within his rights to ignore any order given to him to participate in the illegal action. The question is, was the war legal or not? As I said before he should present his case to the EU courts..
  18. Apr 13, 2006 #17
    I think you will find they do, they could overrule the judgement. The only problem he cant asked for asylum because the UK is already in the EU... It would be a presidence thats for sure
  19. Apr 13, 2006 #18


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    Didn't see it...
    Which, again, is a matter for the courts.
    Oh, we're going to get hung up on that issue if that's what you meant. You're flat-out wrong. Anan may be the UN Secretary General, but he isn't the UN general assembly, nor is he a judge in the World Court. His opinion carries no more weight than yours or mine and isn't relevant here. When you say "The UN..." you are or should be referring to the Security Council or the General Assembly. The Secretary General is not "the UN". The relevant opinions here are the UNSC, the UNGE, the World Court, and the court in the UK that ruled on the issue.

    If Anan thinks the war is illegal, why doesn't he press the UN to declare it illegal? My guess would be he knows his opinion on the subject doesn't carry much weight.
    That's not exactly what I said. What I said was you have to separate the phases of the war. The specific one that he objected to was ruled by the court to be legal and as a result, his orders were legal. It really is that simple.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  20. Apr 13, 2006 #19


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    Same as I said above: you need to separate the phases. If you refuse, you force yourself into accepting that the entire war was legal, as ruled by the court in question and as implied by the UN.

    The way the ruling actually worked, they left open the possibility that the invasion itself was illegal. It may also just be a reaction to his realization that the UN is impotent.
    Can you point me to where I can read about that? A quick google finds THIS, which says one specific court anyway only deals with disputes between nations and disputes between individuals and the EU - not internal issues.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  21. Apr 13, 2006 #20
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