They are just three words. Yet they matter so much: “A lawful order”.
We have a professional military. Their duty, their sworn allegiance is to the United States of America, to the Constitution of the United States. Look at the official site of those who choose to defend our country. Their sworn oath is not to a leader, a person, but rather to an ideal, to us.
So…. Look a little further into history. There is this little thing that happened at Nuremberg. OK, perhaps it’s a bit of hyperbole to call it “little”. That said, the reality of Nuremberg is that it is a key of what our military uses to act. “A Lawful Order”. The defendants at Nuremberg by and large all stood behind a single defense: “I was following orders”. And the answer of the prosecution was solid: If you knew that those orders are unjust and illegal then you had a duty to ignore them, to fight them, to resist. That theory is now known as the “Nuremberg Defense“. It’s a simple idea: you have the obligation, the duty, you are required to say no to unjust, to illegal orders. And it’s what some of us have used as a defense when we’ve violated a law, perhaps about “unlawful assembly”, to protest a wrong.
So why am I writing all this? At the end of the day, it comes back to that professional military, those that are sworn to defend the Constitution. This matters. In Nazi Germany the allegiance, the swearing of oath was to a person. #fucktrump has asked some, Comey comes to mind, to swear allegiance to him. Yet they refused as will “his” generals. They all have been trained, have committed, to the ideals of a country that go beyond a personality.
Yeah this shit with North Korea bothers me. Not because, as a coastal elite, I could be nuked. I don’t believe that a NK nuke can reach me. It bothers me because we have two morons, both defining self-worth by the size of their hands and their degree of attention in the next news cycle, making decisions. Personal self-aggrandizement is in play. But only one of them gets to be really be stupid. For North Korea a US launch of nukes is an existential threat. That Kim guy and his regime will cease to exist. He’ll bluster, yet he knows self-restraint. But the Duracell leader we have has no restraint. OK, maybe a lot of people will die if Kim sends a nuke our way, but it won’t end our country. I don’t mean to minimize the loss of life, yet at the end of the day there is no existential threat. If it happens, a nuclear exchange? Think! Carrot top will have a great news cycle. No restraint there. Lots on the other side.
So…. Why am I not so worried? A LEGAL ORDER. If ferret head orders a strike our military will disobey the order if it’s not legal, if it doesn’t follow process, if it violates international and domestic law. I have faith in that. I believe it. It’s what they have trained to do, it’s part of their sworn allegiance to our Constitution and the rule of law.
Yeah, I believe.
Resist. And know they will too.