Thursday, April 13, 2006

Just following orders

So there is guy in the British armed forces, a doctor called Malcolm Kendall-Smith, two time veteran of Iraq, decorated in Afghanistan. He has just been sentenced to 8 months in prison for refusing to go to Iraq, as he feels the war is illegal.

What makes this case interesting is his citation of the Nuremberg war tribunals. (Quick history lesson - Nazi soldiers were on trial for war crimes, they told the judges that they should not go to jail because they were just following orders, the judges said following orders is not an acceptable defence for war crimes, you should have refused to follow orders that you knew were wrong).

These are not the actions of a coward. This guy is an officer, and a doctor. More than likely he would be serving well behind the lines at a field hospital, so its not like he is going to jail because he doesn't want to die, he is going to jail because our war is illegal and he wants no part of it. Also note that he did not have to go to prison. In the words of his defender -

"I have the honour to present to you an officer of impeccable character. He has an exemplary record. He served Her Majesty the Queen and her country not once, not twice but three times," he said. "He could have followed an easier route, the conscientious objector route, but he had not chosen to go down that route. He could have and would have been deployed anywhere in the world."

It is a sad, sad day when we are compared to the Nazis.

Guardian story - linky


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