Robert Graves's First World War story in his autobiography Goodbye to All That, narrating his refusal to kill an enemy soldier bathing naked on the battlefield, has been made famous in the field of military ethics by Michael Walzer in his Just and Unjust Wars. The story raises the issue of whether soldiers should be granted immunity when behaving in an ‘un-warlike’ manner. It also relates to the growing understanding in military ethics that only soldiers who pose a direct threat (...) should be attacked and killed. This paper concludes that the traditional legal understanding that all soldiers are liable to be attacked and to be killed is the stronger argument. (shrink)
Mercy killing in battle is an illegal activity, yet, the evidence suggests, it happens on battlefields the world over and it has probably done so throughout human history. This may be a ?silent? part of the battlefield that few survivors wish to remember or to report subsequently. The practice is illegal, yet it raises difficult, perhaps sometimes impossible, ethical problems. A framework derived from the ethos of the just war tradition is developed here to analyse and to evaluate such battlefield (...) killings. (shrink)
ABSTRACTMilitary units can become to some extent self-governing in war-time battle. At times, they may take the discipline of their soldiers into their own hands and such discipline may be severe. This paper examines incidents in the British military, in both World Wars, where British soldiers were killed by their comrades because they would not fight in the heat of battle. The judicial execution by the military authorities of deserters in the First World War led to much controversy in Britain. (...) It may be much less well-known that in both World Wars there was, on occasion, an extra-judicial practice within the British military of executing soldiers who would not fight in the heat of battle. In such situations ethical dilemmas become very difficult indeed and some of the relevant issues are examined here. (shrink)
Soldiers hiding in enemy territory that are discovered by civilians face acute ethical problems as to what to do about them. The law of armed conflict forbids harming civilians, yet if they are released they may well betray the soldiers and alert enemy forces that will kill or capture the soldiers. This is not just a theoretical problem; there are recent documented accounts of British and American soldiers who have found themselves in such a position and who have died because (...) they released the civilians. This paper argues that the ethical imperative here is to save the lives of both the soldiers and the civilians and that this should be the guiding principle in such cases. To this end, where possible, non-lethal means of restraint should be used on civilians to incapacitate them while the soldiers escape. (shrink)
Cosmopolitanism is a stream of opinion that has at its heart the ideal of a united humanity protected by a universal morality codified in human rights and international legal standards supervised by international organisations. These views are powerful ones that are recognisable in many policies, institutions and initiatives around the world. This paper examines cosmopolitanism and its influence on British military policy.