Kevin Rudd pushes for action on Syria after the apparent use of chemical weapons
By accepting the word of the US that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and needs to be ‘punished’, can it be claimed that the PM is deferring to a more powerful ally’s war policies and effectively following the orders of a ‘superior’?
How well informed is the prime minister about Syria? It is extremely difficult to get an audience with the PM to know this. (I tried at a fund-raising dinner in Sunshine on 24 August, without success.) So one has to turn to Twitter.
NB: John Curtin is referenced in one question as the Prime Minister presented a biography of Curtin to George Bush when the US president visited Australia. I mention Dietrich Bonhoeffer because Kevin Rudd wrote an article about Bonhoeffer in The Monthly before he became prime minister. Both are men Kevin Rudd greatly admires.
NB: Not all US political figures support military action against Syria. There are defiant public figures in America!
Kucinich: Syria strike would turn US into ‘al Qaeda’s air force’
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Comments and Questions to PM Rudd on Twitter
Spoke to President Obama about mass murders in Syria. Human tragedy can’t continue. KRudd http://instagram.com/p/dfvRhEMBWc/
10:07 AM – 27 Aug 13
Reply to @KRuddMP
Image will appear as a link
@KRuddMP 1. Nuremberg Principle IV states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not ….
@KRuddMP Responses of Christian leaders in Syria and Lebanon to current crisis: …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/church-statements-on-possible-attack-on-syria/ … Christians, sold by the West for oil.
@KRuddMP Massacre in Lattakia early August. Hundreds killed in most horrific ways. Many kidnapped. West is silent …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/massacre-in-lattakia-august-2013/ …
@KRuddMP US,UK,France want to strike Syria on basis of claims of extremist Islamist fighters. Oz gives them credence? …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/chemical-weapons-attack-in-damascus/ …
@KRuddMP Has PM researched crisis in Syria? Would value your response to this research by AMRIS: …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/
@KRuddMP PM John Curtin stood up to Churchill during war. http://www.independentaustralia.net/2010/australian-identity/john-curtin-and-australia%E2%80%99s-changing-attitude-towards-the-monarchy/ … Will an Oz leader display his courage: stand up to US?
@KRuddMP “Al-Qaeda” has a history of using chemical weapons in Iraq +possibly Syria. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/06/iraq_breaks_up_al_qa.php … Shouldn’t this be noted by you?
@KRuddMP Extremists calls for jihad agst Alawi Muslims led to massacres. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/08/syria-opposition-alawite-massacres-sectarianism.html … Will you + govt condemn these massacres?
@KRuddMP A sheik who is a member of SNC which Oz govt recognizes incites sectarian hatred and murder: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/10/us-syria-crisis-coast-idUSBRE9690PU20130710 … #superiororders
@KRuddMP To determine who’s responsible for chemical attack,ask a forensic psychologist to look at images+videos. eg Where are mothers?
@KRuddMP Before you determine that Islamist militias showing pics of kids to world tell the truth,check who they are: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/17/sex-and-the-syrian-revolution/ …
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP When you say ‘human tragedy can’t continue’, will it mean Oz will push for Geneva 2,diplomacy? …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP US fighting on side of Al-Qaeda in Syria http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/does-president-obama-know-hes-fighting-on-alqaidas-side-8786680.html … Australia, too? Superior orders?
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Sheik on Al-Jazeera said OK to kill 1/3 of Syrians if it leads to toppling of govt …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/the-president-the-sheik-and-appeasement/ … #genocide
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP When you refer to ‘mass murders’,are you referring to those committed by followers of Qaradawi …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/the-president-the-sheik-and-appeasement/ …
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Should we now think of Nuremberg defense,”Superior orders” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_Orders … +Bonhoeffer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer …
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Christian voices in Syria not heard in West: http://vimeo.com/43187181 ‘rebel’ voices are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8hoVo_Fiu4&feature=player_embedded …
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Christian voices in Syria for peace: http://www.france24.com/en/20120113-interview-jean-clement-jeanbart-archbishop-aleppo-syria-bashar-al-assad-christian-community … ‘rebel’ voices trusted by Oz? http://news.sky.com/story/1053151/syria-the-growing-power-of-jihadist-groups …
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Many ‘rebels’ are fighting for a world caliphate starting in Damascus. http://news.sky.com/story/1053151/syria-the-growing-power-of-jihadist-groups … What wld St Paul think?
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Investigation into 14/2/2005 bombing in Beirut is ongoing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Tribunal_for_Lebanon … US knows after a week govt did it?
@TroyBramston @KRuddMP Before govt supports Obama’s war on Syria,listen to pple in Syria. http://www.rte.ie/news/player/2012/0810/3363784-mother-agnes-mariam-of-the-cross-from-homs-province-speaks-about-the-syrian-conflict/ … History will judge us.
@KRuddMP @AlboMP Oz govt says all the way with Obama in war on Syria http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/rudd-pushes-for-action-on-syria/story-fn59nm2j-1226704886178 … No research,no diplomacy? …http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.wordpress.com/
5:21 PM – 28 Aug 13 · Details
Superior orders, often known as the Nuremberg defense, lawful orders or by the German phrase “Befehl ist Befehl” (“Orders are Orders”), is a plea in a court of law that a soldier not be held guilty for actions which were ordered by a superior officer. The superior orders plea is similar to the doctrine of respondeat superior in tort law where a superior is held liable for the actions of a subordinate. Some legal scholars and war crimes tribunals will correlate the plea to the doctrine of respondeat superior; whereas others will distinguish the plea from the doctrine of respondeat superior.
One of the most noted uses of this plea, or “defense,” was by the accused in the 1945–46 Nuremberg Trials, such that it is also called the “Nuremberg defense”. The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the main victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany. It was during these trials, under the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal which set them up, that the defense of superior orders was no longer considered enough to escape punishment; but merely enough to lessen punishment.
Historically, the plea of superior orders has been used both before and after the Nuremberg Trials, with a notable lack of consistency in various rulings.
Apart from the specific plea of Superior Orders, discussions about how the general concept of superior orders ought to be used, or ought not to be used, have taken place in various arguments, rulings and Statutes that have not necessarily been part of “after the fact” war crimes trials, strictly speaking. Nevertheless these discussions and related events help us understand the evolution of the specific plea of superior orders and the history of its usage.
Nuremberg Trials after World War II
See also: Nuremberg Trials
In 1945 and 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials the issue of superior orders again arose. Before the end of World War II, the Allies suspected such a defense might be employed, and issued the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which specifically stated that following an unlawful order is not a valid defense against charges of war crimes.
Thus, under Nuremberg Principle IV, “defense of superior orders” is not a defense for war crimes, although it might influence a sentencing authority to lessen the penalty. Nuremberg Principle IV states:
“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
(Before the trials, there was little consensus amongst the Allies as to what was to be done with the Nazi war prisoners. Winston Churchill was inclined to have the leaders ‘executed as outlaws’. The Soviets desired trials, but wished there to be a presumption of guilt, as opposed to the procedural presumption of innocence that accompanies most western criminal trials.)
The “Nuremberg Defense”
These trials gained so much attention that the “superior orders defense” has subsequently become interchangeable with the label, “Nuremberg defense”. This is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”, literally “an order is an order”) and is therefore not responsible for his or her crimes. Colloquially “Befehl ist Befehl” is known as “orders are orders”.
However, U.S. General Telford Taylor, who had served as Chief Counsel for the United States during the Nuremberg trials, employed the term “Nuremberg defense” in a different sense. He applied it not to the defense offered by the Nuremberg defendants, but to a justification put forward by those who refused to take part in military action (specifically America’s involvement in the Vietnam War) that they believed to be criminal. Used in this way, “Nuremberg defense” refers not to the position that “an order is an order”, but rather to the opposing (and rebutting) view that only lawful orders are binding. (This latter use of the term has apparently fallen into disuse, perhaps in part as a result of the United States’ subsequent abolition of the draft.)