Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Nuremberg Principles

The Nuremberg principles were a set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. The document was created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations to codify the legal principles underlying the Nuremberg Trials of Naziparty members following World War II. (Wiki)

Principle IV

Main article: Superior Orders

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".
This principle could be paraphrased as follows: "It is not an acceptable excuse to say 'I was just following my superior's orders'".
Previous to the time of the Nuremberg Trials, this excuse was known in common parlance as "Superior Orders". After the prominent, high profile event of the Nuremberg Trials, that excuse is now referred to by many as "Nuremberg Defense". In recent times, a third term, "lawful orders" has become common parlance for some people. All three terms are in use today, and they all have slightly different nuances of meaning, depending on the context in which they are used.
The Nuremberg Principles are used by the winners to condemn the losers.  They are certainly NEVER applied by a regime in dealing with its own people.  The regime defines who are heroes and who are traitors, not "the people" and in most cases either the people support the regime or are coerced into doing so. Hence the fact that Bradley Manning is not allowed to use Principle IV in his defence (or the First Amendment or practically anything else from what I can gather). Julian Assange and Edward Snowden will spend their lives in hiding or in prison. History may consider them heroes but the American Empire never will.

3 comments:

  1. As light reading, I've gone through four or five books by U.S. Navy Seals, the latest being the one about the killing of bin Laden. Of all I've read, it's the worst in that it portrays these men as among the best trained and best outfitted soldiers in the world, men who are sent to war with some of the worst equipped if not the worst trained. I suppose they're heroic after a fashion, but they also have everything going for them, and this detracts from their achievements. I should think the Seal in my latest book would be embarrassed to write of the many people he killed, people who were doomed from the time the Seals were put on their trail. The Seals are mercenaries, patriotism being a veneer over their desire to live as warriors.

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    1. Every country has its own trained assassins under various guises, people who track and kill for the thrill of it. They are indeed mercenaries of the Empire. They have nothing to do with the people or the constitution.

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    2. Mercenaries of empire--I like that. Had it been Hitler or Stalin, I wouldn't object, but where's the line, and how do we insure that we won't fall over it?

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