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Friday, June 23, 2006

It goes without saying...

... that the government will now call for the careful screening of left wing conscripts in the IDF and for the disbandment of any units that are made up of a majority of liberal soldiers.

After all, last summer when a couple of small right wing religious groups urged soldiers to refuse to participate in operations on moral grounds the political left began loudly urging the government to dismantle religious units and to carefully screen right wing soldiers entering the IDF.

C'mon... fair is fair.  Or is what's good for the goose not good for the gander?

I'll be interested to see the tortured rationalization necessary for this one to pass the smell test. 

If the 'open minded enlightened left' sits by and allows this call for refusal to go unchallenged, then it will be a clear indication that last summer's shouts against the illegality and danger of refusing orders were really just religion/conservative hating masquerading as respect for law and order.

Either (as I believe) it is both illegal and dangerous for soldiers to refuse orders (and to encourage them to do so), or it is not.  You can't only support refusal when it lines up with your politics.


Posted by David Bogner on June 23, 2006 | Permalink


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Absolutely. Unfortunately it seems that the left has a double standard on a lot of things. I think right-wing refusal must be punished but no less than left-wing. But, unfortunately, extremists, whether on the right or left, don't see their own hypocracy.

Posted by: amechad | Jun 23, 2006 1:31:36 PM

It goes the other way too . . . the ones on the right who last year were saying that soldiers SHOULD refuse on moral grounds, cannot now say that an army can't survive if you have soldiers refusing to carry out their duties.

Posted by: Sarah | Jun 23, 2006 3:21:13 PM

Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq

at last a reason why we went to war

Posted by: mark | Jun 23, 2006 5:34:00 PM

This left wing organization says the strikes on Gaza are illegal and therefore should be ignored. But the right never argued that Disengagement was illegal, only politically wrong.

So one tortured rationalization would be that illegal orders can be refused but soldiers don't have the right to make political decisions.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 23, 2006 6:40:00 PM

****You can't only support refusal when it lines up with your politics.****

[soaking wet dripping cynicism]



Posted by: Scott | Jun 23, 2006 8:37:40 PM

Agreed (if I remember this was one topic I backed you up on). And ditto to Sarahs comment. Right or left soldiers have a job to do and the right to refuse only blatantly illegal orders (such as deliberately shooting at civilians or rape). Those who disagree should have either become conscientious objectors or ask to be in non combat units.

Posted by: lisoosh | Jun 23, 2006 10:11:32 PM

Clearly we all agree that there are times a soldier ought to, for moral reasons, refuse an order -- e.g., a Nazi SS soldier assigned to Auschwitz. The truly morally superior person simply does his duty (to G-d and then to country) without lauding himself or demonizing others. Therein lies the distinction between "liberals" (who demonize soldiers who have moral objections to ejecting Jewish settlers, but laud themselves for the very same behavior) and conservatives (who DO NOT propose such a witch hunt against soldiers who have moral objections to hunting down terrorists, and who only reluctantly declined to obey orders they consider a violation of God's law).

It's worth noting that our host was not seriously proposing a political pogrom against leftists. He was merely pointing out their deafening silence now that the shoe is on the other foot.

By the way, in the U.S. military an officer is not only morally obligated to disobey an illegal order, but actually has a legal obligation as well (as I suspect is true in Israel). The oath of U.S. miltary officers mentions nothing of obeying the orders of superiors; they swear only "to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies..." So for American military officers, "I vass chust followink orders," is not a valid defense of misconduct.

My brother Roy (a retired Air Force major) is a case in point. In 1983 as the scheduling officer for a B-52 training wing, he was ordered by his wing commander to schedule training that did not permit adequate time for maintenance. Roy refused and was relieved of duty. Three months later, when a B-52 crashed and maintenance was identified as the culprit, Roy was the only member of that command who was not court-martialled or mustered out of the service.

That's not to say that good deeds go unpunished -- Roy's next duty assignment was to a radar site in eastern Montana and he was never considered for promotion to lieutenant colonel. His failure to escalate his protest of that order to a higher command was a black mark on his record that barred him from any further career advancement.

Posted by: Bob | Jun 24, 2006 2:05:28 AM

The question here really is, what IS the reasonable ground for questioning orders? What are the clear instances when the order is considered to be clearly immoral? Somehow, I really doubt there are shades of gray when it comes to warfare.

Posted by: Irina | Jun 24, 2006 8:07:23 AM

Amechad... True, there are no lack of hypocrites on both left and right. Unfortunately, the right wing brand are on the fringe and the left wing brand are in government. The example I gave of conservative/religious recruits being screened much more carefully and religious units being marked for disbandment has actually come to pass. Does anyone think that the same will now happen to liberal/secular recruits due to this left wing call for refusal. I think not.

Sarah... I wish you read as well as you wrote. The calls for refusal last year came from fringe groups on the right but the government reacted as though ALL right wing and/or religious recruits now required careful scrutiny and existing religious units (hesder) needed to be broken up. The point of my post is that now that a fringe left group is (again) calling for refusal there is no way the government will react with equally draconian screening of liberal recruits.

Anon... I normally don't allow anonymous comments, especially ass-hat comments like yours. But I've decided to leave it as a cautionary tale for others. The right wing call for refusal was absolutely based on the contention that the orders to ethnically cleanse Gaza of Jews was patently illegal and immoral. [hopefully] that popping sound yo hear is your head dislodging from your butt.

Scott... A simple 'I told you so' would have sufficed. :-)

Lisa... I don;t disagree with Sarah's comment, I just contend that it had nothing to do with my post. This tendency to respond to the point they imagine was made rather than the point that was made is really wearing me out.

Bob... If you've been reading along you are already aware that I don't think soldiers should be allowed to consider politics at all. They must put their personal political agenda in a lock-box for the duration of their service and only consider the absolute legality (such as you described) of orders. Officers, especially those further up the food chain, may give a touch more thought to the orders they are being told to pass down the chain of command, but other than moral, legal and urgent safety issues, they too must act, not think.

Irina... It is really cut and dried. Orders must be followed except where the soldier is being told to do something that is clearly illegal and/or immoral. Once we allow them to mix in their personal politics the definition of moral becomes far too widely applied.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 25, 2006 9:18:55 AM

Ach, late again!


If I recall, the main thing that worried those calling for Hesder to be disbanded as and when was that large groups of people would blindly follow orders of charismatic Rabannim with political agendas: Whereas all the adverts in the world featuring the "wisdom" of Uri Avnery and Gidon Levy will not (and never will be) on the same scale in terms of social impact.

(And just to even things out in terms of both Geese and Gander, I know many people on the far Left who have been repeatedly discriminated against by the security services. I could tell you several stories of my own, too.)

Posted by: PP | Jun 25, 2006 5:43:44 PM

PP... You recall selectively (as do we all). And considering the actual number of religious refusers, the charismatic Rabbis turned out to have FAR less influence on their followers than the left wing ideologues calling for refusal.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 26, 2006 12:05:59 PM

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