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Old 02-17-2005, 11:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What is the "Uriah Syndrome"

I'm trying to understand/track down a reference made in an opinion paper I read.

The proximite bit is:
Quote:
I have a personal investment in this prayer, which I dare not expose because of Damoclean "advice" issued to all U.S. Army personnel and their extended families by the Defense Department of Mr. Rumsfeld. My wife and I have dubbed this advice the "Uriah Syndrome."
The questions are:
What is the Damoclean "advice"?
Who, or what, is the Uriah being referred to?

Hopefully the references are sufficienly well known that someone will know it off the top of their heads!

My attempts at google searches are coming up blank.

The entire article:
http://www.nd.edu/~com_sens/issues/o...5.html#dostler
Quote:
We Must Pray Fervently „ and Precisely „ for our Soldiers: The Case of General Anton Dostler
Kent Emery, Jr.

As a college student in the late 1920s, my father, Cecil Kent Emery, served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.), receiving his commission as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves upon graduation. He married my mother at the beginning of the Great Depression; throughout the Depression my mother and he lived with her parents. A few months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, my father formed a new law firm with two other lawyers, each of whom died before the war was over (one in combat, the other in an automobile accident). On the day itself of the Pearl Harbor attack, my father was moving into his and my mother's first home. That afternoon he received the call summoning him to serve as an officer in World War II. My father was then 37 years old, called to serve at such an advanced age because of his training in R.O.T.C. and his commission in the reserves.

My father was first commissioned in the Second Division of the U.S. Cavalry, which fought in the North African campaign. With the Fifth Army troops he landed in Italy at the Anzio beachhead, where he survived that great battle. Thereafter he was part of the allied occupation forces in Italy, until they reached Rome. At that point, as an experienced attorney, he was transferred to the Judge Advocates Office of the U.S. Army. Soon afterwards he was given a grave assignment that affected his understanding for the rest of his life: he was appointed as the defense counsel for the German four-star general, General Anton Dostler, in the first allied war trial in World War II, which took place in the Palace of Justice at Rome, 8-10 October 1945. That trial, for better or worse, was also intended to establish precedents for the war trials that would follow in Nuremberg.

According to an international convention, captured soldiers are beneficiaries of all of the provisions pertaining to prisoners of war provided they are dressed in uniform and are therefore recognizable as "enemy combatants." If they are not so dressed, or disguised in their enemy's uniform, their protection under the convention is not assured. The Bush administration has appealed to this particular convention, among others, concerning the al-Qaeda suspects captured in Afghanistan, who were not in the uniform of regular forces, and who have not been afforded any of the regular rights established for prisoners of war by the Geneva Convention.

Here is the event for which General Dostler, an officer in the regular German army and not of any Nazi "special forces," was tried. United States O.S.S. troops (13 enlisted men and two officers) had landed in Northern Italy far behind German lines. They were not in uniform, Dostler claimed, but were disguised as Italian civilians. Their mission was to bomb the access routes in the mountains between Austria and Italy, in order to cut off supplies to German troops. They were captured by the German troops in a brigade commanded by German Brigadier General Almers. The Germans at first thought that they were Italian civilian saboteurs (the disguise succeeded). Report of the capture was sent to the headquarters of General Dostler. Dostler ordered that they be executed, at which point the captured soldiers revealed that they were in fact Americans. This fact was eventually established by a German intelligence unit. Dostler then withdrew his order of execution and informed his superior, General Albert Kesselring, commanding general of all German forces in southeast Europe. Dostler's adjutant officer reported to him that Kesselring, in response, had instead ordered the soldiers to be executed. Dostler told his adjutant to inform General Almers of Kesselring's decision, and Almers then carried out the execution. At the end of the War, the captive General Dostler was accused of carrying out an "illegal order" in this affair. Dostler maintained that he did not issue the order, but only told his adjutant to inform General Almers of the supreme commander's order.

As should be evident, there were several legal weaknesses in the case against Dostler. First, it was not clear that executing captured enemy soldiers disguised by not being in uniform violated any convention pertaining to prisoners of war. Second, it could not be established that Dostler had in fact issued the order of execution. Indeed, the prosecutor, my father and other legal advisors involved in the case determined that the charges against Dostler would need to be dropped for lack of evidence, according to the standard rules of evidence in the law, which pertained as well in the Military Code until that time. This presented an enormous dilemma to the legal officers charged with the case. For months, the Roosevelt administration in Washington, D.C., assisted especially by Mr. Henry Luce of Time-Life magazines, had been promising the American people that "not a single German officer guilty of war crimes would be set free." Obviously, should the first German officer tried in an allied war trial be exonerated and released, it would be an embarrassment for the Roosevelt administration.

For that reason, the prosecutor and my father sent a wire to Washington, informing the administration of the situation. Shortly thereafter, the prosecuting officer received the reply: "Lacking standard evidence, hearsay will be accepted as evidence in the trial." This decision established a precedent for the subsequent war trials in Nuremberg. Thus General Dostler was convicted on the "hearsay" testimony of a turned-informant in U.S. custody, otherwise unverifiable, asserting that the captured troops had been in uniform, and that Dostler had directly issued the order. General Dostler was executed by a firing squad on 12 October 1945. It was an ashen-faced prosecuting officer who presented Washington's response to my father, with this comment: "Hope to God we never lose a war." Both officers understood the dangerous consequences of the precedent just set in their trial: Captured soldiers could now be tried according to a very low standard of evidence; after the fact, soldiers were liable to be found guilty for carrying out the orders of their superior commanders, as all soldiers are required to do; an ancient maxim would now apply, "Justice is what the Winners say it is." Hope to God we never lose a war.

Whatever the actual truth in this murky affair, two things are clear: the lawyers involved in the case originally judged that there was insufficient evidence for convicting General Dostler, according to the normal canons of evidence; however evasive or passive he may have been in doing so, General Dostler obeyed the order of his superior officer. Are we expected to believe that officers in the U.S. military are encouraged to disobey the orders of their superiors whenever they think that the command is morally dubious?

After further service in preparing war trials, my father, seemingly trusted by his commanding officers, was sent to Romania, where he was charged with extracting a woman spy who had served the Russians and Americans during the war, but whom American officials were now worried would fall into the hands of our new Communist enemy. Having successfully completed that mission, my father finally returned home in late 1946 (or early 1947). He entered the war as a first lieutenant, exited as a major, was soon promoted to colonel in the reserves, and just before retiring from his reserve service in the National Guard was proposed for promotion to one-star general. Above all, however, as a civilian my father was a man of law. He often said to me: "Son, the American political experiment is extremely volatile. The nation brings together people from every corner of the globe, with different historical experiences, different (sometimes contrary) religions, different understandings of what is honorable and dishonorable, etc. The only thing that binds us together is the willingness on the part of each to abide by a rule of law." Precisely according to that principle, until the end of his life he was deeply disturbed about the dark implications of the trial of General Anton Dostler.

As should be obvious from my retelling of it, the account of General Dostler's trial made an indelible impression on my mind, and has rushed back into my thoughts in light of the circumstances in which the American people, driven by the implacable "will-to-power" of the Bush administration, now find themselves. In my judgment, George W. Bush has cast our soldiers into harm's way no less in the moral than in the physical order. I shall elaborate.

Among their many ploys to "win the American people over to the invasion of Iraq," Bush, his subordinates and publicists appeal to sound bites extracted from the so-called just war theory. That theory was invented by Saint Augustine, and then developed by many medieval theologians, including Thomas Aquinas. I advise readers to return to their writings, and to discover the theory in its integrity. According to their criteria, the times when war can be prosecuted as just are few indeed, even by standards of medieval warfare, which did not employ what Bush and his shills gloat over as "the most lethal arsenal ever assembled by mankind." Mr. Powell's famous policy of "Overwhelming Force" ipso facto subverts the criterion of "proportionate force." At its foundation, the medieval justification of war is based on the notion of self-defense against an invader, a criterion which would seem to apply more to the Iraqis than to the American pre-emptive invaders.

With fine historical irony, in the minds of Augustine and Thomas war is justified especially when it is in defence of the Catholic Faith and the Catholic faithful; it was under that rubric that medieval theologians theoretically justified the crusades against the Muslims, who had captured the holy places in Palestine, and had killed or subjugated Christian peoples living there. (We seldom hear modern advocates of just war theory, even at the Cushwa or Erasmus Centers, invoking that criterion!) But readers should especially attend Augustine's words expressing that war always bespeaks a moral failure, that the criteria which might justify a war can never be preserved in the heat of battle, and that war inevitably compromises morally the souls of all who are required to engage in it. In short, war is an historical reality sub ratione peccati, a result of Original Sin fraught with all of its ravaging effects, which can only be healed by penance and the supplication of divine grace and absolution. Do our leaders and their neo-con and apocalyptic evangelical propagandists, who invoke the just war theory (even under the name of Augustine), have a federally funded program of public penance in place, which their warriors will be required to undergo when their missions are completed? In any event, Augustine's anxieties were fully realized in the crusades, in the sacking of Byzantium, unrestrained blood-letting, rape, pillage, etc. The consequences of that "just war" have been long-lived indeed, still at play in the recent conflicts in the Balkans and now surely in our foray into the lands of Islamic civilization. These long-lived consequences confirm another observation of Augustine, that the results of war are almost always worse and more tenacious than the "problem" they were meant to solve.

In the seventeenth century, in view of the carnage and destruction of the religious wars in Europe, the "Princes of the Natural Law" (as Giambattista Vico called them), Grotius, Pufendorf, Seldon, adapted the medieval theory of just war by eliminating all of its theological dimensions, in an attempt to base the theory "on reason alone." (Arguably, the removal of all theological underpinnings and restrictions weakened the coherence of the doctrine.) That seemed necessary, since religion was now the problem and no part of the solution. Again, the core around which their theories were based is the notion of national self-defense against an invading aggressor. The Bush policy of pre-emptive invasion was precisely what they sought to render illegitimate, by "universal agreement." It is that fundamental idea that has governed those who appeal to international law ever since; it is for that reason that experienced diplomats around the world are horrified at the policy and "justifications" of the Bush administration for its pre-emptive adventure and experiment.

As far as Catholics are concerned, the question concerning the invasion of Iraq is now closed. In a fine, straightforward statement in the South Bend Tribune (Dialogue, Sunday, March 2, 2003), Bishop John D'Arcy has accurately stated the criteria for a so-called Just War, has shown that according to authoritative Catholic teaching "all other peaceful means must be exhausted" before armed force can be considered (exactly as French and German diplomats propose), and that the Pope John Paul II, the bishops and other Catholic authorities have declared that a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, without approval of the United Nations and before all other means for peace have been exhausted, would be immoral and unjust. In this instance, the judgment of the ecclesiastical authorities accords with the "sense of the faithful" around the world (except with the little band of suborned Catholic Neo-Cons, who make the rounds of the talk shows on Fox News and National "Public" Radio).

Think, then, of our soldiers and the case of General Dostler, and the moral and legal danger into which they are being cast. Now that the Bush administration has set yet another precedent, in the treatment of prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay, imagine the jeopardy our soldiers will be in should they be captured, in uniform or not. And with so many moral authorities stating that a pre-emptive invasion will be unjust, and is unjustifiable, think of General Dostler, and what our soldiers could be held accountable for, simply for obeying orders, if things go wrong. Let us hope to God we never lose a war, as my father's fellow-officer remarked.

Considering all of this, I have devised the form of a prayer that we should make for all those soldiers enlisted in Mr. Bush's adventure:

1. We must pray, first and most of all, that our young men and women will not be cast into harm's way, before all other peaceful means have been completely exhausted, and the international community, represented by the Security Council in the UN, accedes to the sad reality that war is a "moral necessity."
2. If Bush orders the soldiers to invade, we must pray that they all return home to their families safely, that none are maimed or killed not only by the enemy, but by our "friendly fire," by their handling of the "most lethal weapons ever assembled by mankind," or made sick by their chemical vaccinations, etc., in short, that they not return home mysteriously ill or mentally wounded as so many Gulf War I veterans have done.
3. We must pray that none of our soldiers is constrained to obey an immoral command, or any command that would violate even a single precept of the so-called Just War theory, including the use of disproportionate force. We must pray in large that Augustine's worries about the morally corrupting effects of participating in warfare will not be realized in the souls of any of our soldiers.
4. We must pray finally that, commanded by their superiors according to the strictest standards of justice, our soldiers may return home in honor, and that they will not confront the dishonor experienced by our veterans of Viet Nam when they returned home after their combat. Unfairly, they were held accountable for the crimes and orders of their superiors, as my father maintained all his life was the case for General Anton Dostler and many other German soldiers convicted on the precedent of his case by the Winners.

I have a personal investment in this prayer, which I dare not expose because of Damoclean "advice" issued to all U.S. Army personnel and their extended families by the Defense Department of Mr. Rumsfeld. My wife and I have dubbed this advice the "Uriah Syndrome."

In sum, let us hope to God we never lose a war.

Kent Emery, Jr. is a Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame. He is the father of six children, all of whom are now married.
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Old 02-17-2005, 12:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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made me curious, so I am looking it up.

Uriah is another form of Urijah, a prophet and "companion of Ezra".

haven't figure out how it ties to this "syndrome" yet.....
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Old 02-17-2005, 12:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakk
I'm trying to understand/track down a reference made in an opinion paper I read.

The proximite bit is:


The questions are:
What is the Damoclean "advice"?
Who, or what, is the Uriah being referred to?

Hopefully the references are sufficienly well known that someone will know it off the top of their heads!

My attempts at google searches are coming up blank.
Quote:
in classical mythology, courtier at the court of Dionysius I. He so persistently praised the power and happiness of Dionysius that the tyrant, in order to show the precariousness of rank and power, gave a banquet and had a sword suspended above the head of Damocles by a single hair. Hence the expression “the sword of Damocles” to mean an ever-present peril.http://www.bartleby.com/65/da/Damocles.html
I have no idea what the perilous advice is.

Quote:
Uriah Heep is the name of a rascal in David Copperfield.

His pretence of being ''’umble'' masks villainy, as he undermines his employer, Mr Wickfield, gradually insinuating himself into control of the law firm.

He attempts to blackmail Wickfield’s daughter (who eventually marries David) into marriage. I describe him as an oily creature, who writhes like a snake.

Yours faithfully,

Charles Dickenshttp://www.talkingto.co.uk/ttcd/html...=1876&CatID=94
I imagine Uriah refers to the Dickens character, but I don't know why unless the advice was villainous..
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Old 02-17-2005, 12:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The only thing that comes to mind with "Damoclean Advice" is the so called sword of Damocles:

Quote:
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

Damocles


(dm´klz) (KEY) , in classical mythology, courtier at the court of Dionysius I. He so persistently praised the power and happiness of Dionysius that the tyrant, in order to show the precariousness of rank and power, gave a banquet and had a sword suspended above the head of Damocles by a single hair. Hence the expression “the sword of Damocles” to mean an ever-present peril.
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Old 02-17-2005, 12:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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here is my guess:

Damoclean means "threat of destruction"

There are three different Urijah's in the Bible, all doing different things.

Here is a LINK to basic descriptions of the three.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say it applies to the third Urijah.

I base my conclusion on the use of the word "Damoclean" and the fate of the third Urijah. I am left with the impression that this guy thinks that great bodilly harm will come to him if he should speak more openly.

Edit: yeah, I am pretty sure this guy is likening himself to the third Urijah and is trying to infer that a similar fate would befall him for "speaking against the king", with the king being GWB.
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Old 02-17-2005, 01:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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perhaps the uriah mentioned is the biblical one?

when king david saw a beautiful woman bathing on her roof from his palace... he was told that she was the wife of one of his soldiers (uriah) off fighting in a war, but he screwed her anyway. she got pregnant and king david sent a letter to his general telling him to put uriah in the unit seeing the fiercest combat and then isolate him (thus leaving him vulnerable). so uriah dies in combat for his king... the very one who is screwing his wife back home.

the story is found in II Samuel chapter 11
Quote:
11:1In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. 18 Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19 And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20 then, if the king's anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”

22 So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
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Old 02-17-2005, 02:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Ah. So the allegation is a message along the lines of "people or people whose families stir up shit will be placed at the forefront of the fighting" has been passed to the troops.
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Old 02-17-2005, 02:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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<-- impressed with Irate's biblical knowledge.

I'm not a religious person, but that's a thick book and thick reading, and I'm pretty impressed that you pulled out a reference like that.
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Old 02-17-2005, 03:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Agreed! Thank you much all those above, especially irateplatypus for (I believe) hitting it right on the nose.

I'm going to try to confirm or deny this interpritation with some US military personel I know.
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Old 02-17-2005, 05:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yakk
Agreed! Thank you much all those above, especially irateplatypus for (I believe) hitting it right on the nose.

I'm going to try to confirm or deny this interpritation with some US military personel I know.
Yeah, the Biblical Uriah seems to make some sense.
I sent an email to Mr. Emery and asked him what it meant. Who knows, he might just answer it.
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Old 02-18-2005, 10:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I received a reply from Mr. Emery today and irateplatypus correctly picked the Uriah he referred to. It is somewhat personal in nature so I will not reproduce it entirely here.

some excerpts:
Quote:
For the story of King David, Bethsheba and her husband Uriah, and how King David conveniently sent Uriah to the forefront of the battle, where as David intended he was killed, read the Bible, 2 Samuel 11, verses 1-17.

Before the Invasion of Iraq, the families of soldiers about to depart received letters with instructions from the Defense Department about how to "handle the media." Among other things, families were told in the document that if any members of their extended family spoke in the media against the war, or were known to have participated in demonstrations against it, "your soldier would be held responsible." You can put the pieces together, and infer what could be done to the soldier whose extended family was so wayward.
and another excerpt:
Quote:
The son of the prosecutor in Dostler's trial read my article, like you, on the Web, and began a long correspondence with me. As it turns out, that trial so destroyed his belief in the so-called "rule of law" that he would never talk about it, and his children discovered the fact that he had participated in it only when they read his obituary.
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Old 02-18-2005, 11:08 AM   #12 (permalink)
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This thread appears to have reached its end, the terms in question having been defined. Nontheless, I would be interested in others' thoughts on the article. I found it to be both compelling and disturbing. The implication that the rule of law is the glue that holds (very tenuously at times) the fabric of our society together rings true for me...or maybe it's actually society's belief that this is so makes it work as a cohesive force.

Any thoughts out there on this?
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Old 02-18-2005, 11:45 AM   #13 (permalink)
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The "I was just following orders" defense always seemed like a good defense to me. Like the prosecutor pointed out to Mr. Emery's father "God hope we never lose a war". I agree with Mr. Emery that these words have meaning now more than ever.

I don't agree that soldiers should be held responsible for obeying orders like we held the German soldiers like Dostler after WWII. One of these days it could be our sons and daughters on trial. Just imagine all the various scenarios they could be held accountable for in the course of war by just obeying orders.
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