Lounge

Dark Day for the UK

 
Picture of James Phillips
Dark Day for the UK
 
This is a dark day for the UK. Apparently we now jail our heroes.

(Messages of support can be sent via justin@roselaw.co.uk for anybody who is interested).
 
Average of ratings: Not very cool (3)
Picture of Darren Smith
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
I don't especially want to get into a deep debate about it here but I read this:

An RAF doctor who refused to serve in Iraq has been sentenced to eight months in prison by a court martial for disobeying orders.

... and, to be honest, couldn't see his defense. Sure he disagrees with the war (and a lot do) but I don't see how he gets to make a choice about what he does and what he doesn't do for the RAF. Add to that the fact that he is a doctor so he would be putting the lives of others at risk by not showing up then my sympathy is even less.

Anyway, way to heavy for this time of the morning big grin

Darren
 
Average of ratings: Not cool (1)
Picture of M Y
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
I saw that on the news last night, Sure he was disobaying orders but, put in prison for something as petty as that? What is the UK coming to?

Don't they have a right to refuse to take part? Surely they can force him to?
 
Average of ratings: -
Not a PHM :-)
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
I agree 100%. If you are in the military, then you don't have the right to refuse to do the job you signed-up to do. If he were a regular doctor (not in the military) and was jailed for refusing to go, then it would be an injustice. He is in the military...he has no right to refuse to do his job.

I also agree...it's way too early for this, but I'm a 20-year military retiree and people like this get no sympathy from me.

Steve
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ralph Blakeslee
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

The verdict was correct, then sentence too harsh. 

When you join the military you make a commitment to your country that you will obey orders, within reason.  An officer can not order a subordinate to break the law or act in a way contray to the law. 

Despite how you feel about the USA's current situation in Iraq, no court, national or international has deemed the action "illegal", as far as I know. While I beleive the USA's  leaders have made mistakes along all spectrumes, and I agree you can questions their motives, you can't compare them to the leaders of Nazi Germany.

It sounds to me like he made some people very angry, which resulted in the harsh sentence.  Perhaps it was his compairson of the USA to the Nazis, which I find to be absurd.   He may teach philosophy but  he is no student of history.   

It always irks me when people use the Nazis in their broad comparisons, because there are few regimes and leaders as hideous.  Stalin, Pol Pot, the genocide in Africa - they can be compared to Third Reich.  When someone uses the Nazis in compairson to the USA, or Great Britain for that matter, they simple minimize what took place in Germany and Europe. 

Ralph 

 
Average of ratings: -
Not a PHM :-)
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Ditto Ralph...I agree with everything you wrote, including the fact that US leaders have made "many" mistakes as it relates to this situation.

What he thinks about the US, Great Britain, or any other place is his choice, but it's irrelevant to his situation. Personally, I don't like the fact that we are in Iraq and I don't like the fact that we went there in the first place. But a military person can't "pick and choose" what wars they want to support.

This guy may be a good guy and it may be debatable as to whether the sentence was too harsh, but he is no hero and he is certainly guilty as charged.

Steve

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

I've seen this happen before in a Chess site I'm a member of. What happened was that the chess forums got into all sorts of off-topic areas triggered by the Iraq war. Strong views were apparent, afterall we all have a view.

Problem was though, that is was a Chess site and eventually the webmaster had to reinforce this by closing down the social forum.

I'm in the Moodle community due to my interest in things Moodle. I don't want to see emails in my inbox under the Using Moodle category and then find it is political commentary. It's up to all of us as community members to define the parameters of the community we belong. We can't expect MD to moderate everything. Sorry if this offends anyone, but in my view there's other fora available on the Internet for this - let's stick to Moodle and the broader context of open source in education.

regards

Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Not a PHM :-)
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

"Fun stuff and off-topic discussions that may have nothing to do with Moodle."

Maybe I misunderstood the description of the "open social forum".

Using Moodle is not a category....Using Moodle is a "course" with a form in it called "open social forum" with the description above. It is a forum that can be unsubscribed from to prevent emails.

I believe the parameters of this forum in this community is clearly defined...of course, it can be redefined or deleted if the community really doesn't want an "Open Social Forum".

Steve

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Richard Wyles
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

A fair point Steve but I think you'll find with a quick scroll that the vast majority of threads in this forum are connected to open source, technology in education or education in general, if not specifically (largely so) connected to Moodle. That's why I'm subscribed.

cheers
Richard

 
Average of ratings: -
Chris
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
I agree with you Richard.  If we start airing our individual political views on Moodle.org, what are the longer term ramifications? I believe that contributions to the site should remain focussed on technology, education and expanding the constrcutivist model in our education systems and circles not personal political views. 
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Darren Smith
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
On the other hand I think you would be hard pushed to find such a large diverse group of well educated individuals anywhere else in the world / web. Education is about understanding and if we all understand each other we can learn and build upon that.

Most of the topics you listed would be off-topic here as there are other forums in this course for discussing them.

Darren
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Frances Bell
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

To Chris and Richard,

Having taken an Easter break, I have come in a little late on this one.  Although this thread has not had obvious links to e-learning, it does not seem to contravene any proscriptions stated for the forum.  Even when we are clearly discussing e-learning I would contend that we often air "our individual political views" - we can't help it, as our dialogue is contextualised and non-neutral.  IMHO, it's better if we make that clear as many posters have within this thread, without becoming personal or offensive (I don't think anyone as done that).

Online forums may very well want to take action against personal offence or maybe spamming/graffiti attacks.  What is off-topic could be dealt with by ignoring it - an off-topic post being by definition one that everyone ignores.

I think it would be a mistake to try to define what is an accpetable topic on this forum.  Remember the response to events like the Tsunami - that was a good exchange I think.

 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Hello,

I am not sure of the extent of similarity between the invasion of Iraq and that of Nazi Germany. But I think that the defendant used the comparison so as to make use of the Nurenburgh principles.

As we know, Britian does not have a constitution so British law is based on legal precident. I think that a judge did count the Nuremburgh trials as legal precident.

In the Nuremburgh trials it was stated that
1) Agressive war is illegal
2) The defence "I was only following orders" does not hold when you are being told to do something illegal - one must refuse to obey such illegal orders, or face punishment.

I think that these Nuremburgh Principles seem pretty reasonable.

And, since people do have a tendency to say, as Steve does, that those in the millitary have "no right to refuse to do [their] job." the Nuremburgh principles are very relevant to rebuke such claims.

I.e. according to Nuremburgh, those in the millitary not only have a right, they have a duty to refuse orders when they believe that those orders are to do something illegal.

Now whether the invasion of Iraq was legal or not is a big question. It seems to me that is one that is not clear cut. Sane, senible and fairly informed people could argue either way, and take either opinion.

And surely there must be many (10s? 100s?...) in the British Army that do doubt the legality of the war. But Dr.  Kendall-Smith is the only one among these people that has the courage of his convictions to do the legal thing.

I sent a message of support to the doc's lawyer at the address posted by Jamie above.

Tim
Ps Richard, I am sorry if the existance of this thread gets in the way of your enjoyment of the many education related posts on this forum. You might consider setting up a filter for "Dark Day."

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Ralph Blakeslee
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Tim,

I always love reading your responses and postings! 

I agree that if the objective of Dr. Kendall-Smith was to invoke the Nuremberg Principles he had the right to invoke Nazi Germany, but I am not sure that was his intention.  In the article cited by James Phillips Dr. Kendell-Smith does not mention the Nuremberg Principles, specifically Principle 4, which 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."

Now perhaps in his court hearing he and his attorneys put forth the Principle 4 argument.  All I have the news article which contains several direct quotes from Dr. Kendell-Smith.  Here are two of them:

He said: "I have evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with its actions in the Persian Gulf. I have documents in my possession which support my assertions.

"This is on the basis that on-going acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany."

It's the Doctor's belief that the USA is committed that same type (on par) of war crimes as the Nazi's.  Why hasn't this evidence been presented to the world?  I find it hard to believe that if the Americans were systematically killing people based on their religious or ethnicity that we wouldn't have at least something?  And again, as I did in my previous post, I not saying that the what the USA has done by invading Iraq is morally or legally right.  That to me is a different debate.  Nor am I denying that mistakes have been made or that crimes committeed, either by individuals or organizations.  I simply saying it does not rise to the level of Nazi evils.  As state previously, to do so somehow waters down the acts of that despicable group.

That being said, if Dr. Kendell-Smith was invoking Principal 4 of the Nuremberg Principals he may have a leg to stand on in appeal process.  However, I could make a strong argument that he has a moral obligation to go to Iraq. 

When we are part of an organization that is involved in questionable actions we have what is essentially two choices: divorce ourselves from that organization and attempt counter-actions from the outside, or we can work from inside of the organization to bring about change and work for good.  As a doctor, does not Kendell-Smith have an obligation to treat the sick and wounded of Iraq?  Clearly this would be part of his mandate there.  I know American and British military doctors are doing the same.   Wouldn't this be especially true if he felt that these people, along with his fellow members of military, were injured as a result of an unjust war?

When Oskar Schindler was faced with a similar situation he chose to work within the corrupt and morally bankrupt Nazi regime.  He saved hundreds by packing his factory workforce with people he knew the Nazi's wanted to exterminate.  Towards the end of WWII he began to allow his factory to produce inferior products, thus undermine the war effort. 

Could not Dr. Kendell-Smith take the same road? 

Ralph

BTW - I am sorry if this type of discussion makes people uneasy, and I am sure that I could find some other venue.  I doubt however, that it would have people as intelligence and with as varied points of view.

 

 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
Dear Ralph

First of all, thank youblush!

It's the Doctor's belief that the USA is committed that same type (on par) of war crimes as the Nazi's. 

If the doctor believes that the British and Americans are invovled in systematic killing - genocide - then I think that he is way off too.

I was under the impression however that the comparison was being made between Nazi invasions (for "libensraum" wasn't it?) and American ones (of which some suspect economic motivation).

If Dr. Kendall-Smith followed the exampled of Oskar Schindler then...hmm...I guess he could have gone to Iraq, treated Iraq wounded and fed the British troups laxatives. If he had dones this then some people would think him still braver, and others would see his behaviour as even more illegal. I am sure he would get a considerably stiffer sentence had he been caught. As would Oskar Schindler, who was truly a hero.

I feel that there are degrees of rebellion appropriate to degrees of illegality. I am not sure. I think that I might approve of all the acts of rebellion in this table.

Rebellion

Illegality

1 Refusing to go (Dr. K-S)A British Invasion of Iraq
2 Sabotage (Herr S.)B Killing of Jews
3 Shooting ones group members in the back of the head (Hypothetical)C Terrorist group about to blow up bus full of children

To what extent could the rows be jumbled, and gain our approval? How about 3B and 2C? I could see myself approving of them too. (Indeed, B should really go below C.)

I would not approve of Dr. Kendall-Smith shooting his fellow British soldiers in the back of the head.  To be honest, I am glad that he chose (1) rather than (2) since to me "refusing to go" seems like an appropriate level of rebellion.

Tim

 
Average of ratings: -
Not a PHM :-)
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

"I.e. according to Nuremburgh, those in the military not only have a right, they have a duty to refuse orders when they believe that those orders are to do something illegal."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no scholar on the Nuremburg principals, but I do know what military people (at least in the US) swear an oath to....they swear an oath to "obey all legal orders..." Not all orders they "believe" to be legal.

Individual solider beliefs have no bearing on this. If we allowed military members to only follow orders that they believe in, we would all be in deep trouble, because we would have no effective military forces.

There is another very interesting point to this particular case which makes the principal listed above completely irrevelant...in my opinion. As I understand it, Dr. Kendall-Smith is a medical officer. Medical officers, at least in the US and I believe all countries that follow the Geneva Convention code, are non-combatants. Dr. Kendall-Smith was not being sent to Iraq to fight, in fact, it would be illegal for him to do so. He was being sent to Iraq to heal.

Dr. Kendall-Smith's logic of refusing to go to Iraq to heal because he believes the fighting is illegal is about as illogical as a doctor refusing to treat a wounded criminal in London because the criminal was involved in what the doctor believed to be illegal activity.

Steve

 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

If they swear an oath to obey all legal orders, what apart from their belief do they have to go by when judging legality?

Those that were tried at Nuremburgh had nothing other than their belief, or the conscience that they should have had, to go by.  

I think that there is nothing illogical at all about refusing to offer ones  medical services to an illegal activity. I think that your analogy does not represent the situation.

I think that a more representative analogy would be refusing to accompany a group of terrorists that are planning some sort of attack, and invite a doctor to accompany them in their attack so as to tend their wounds.

Your analogy questions whether the doctor would tend to the wounds of a criminal represents the situation where a doctor not taking part in the activities of the criminal. My guess is that that Dr. Kendal-Smith would be happy to work for an Iraqui hospital, and would not refuse treatment to British soldiers that happened to be taken there.

Tim

 
Average of ratings: -
Not a PHM :-)
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
If they swear an oath to obey all legal orders, what apart from their belief do they have to go by when judging legality?

How about "the law"???

The UK has laws...I know they do, I lived there for 6 years...I remember, there were laws when I lived there wink.  I don't remember all of them, but having said that, I'm unclear which one he was ordered to violate. I would hate to live in a country where anything anyone "believed" would be considered "law". I know that wasn't the way law was established when I lived there...surely that hasn't changed? thoughtful [I know there is a lot of thoughtful sarcasm here...but I just couldn't resist]

I think that there is nothing illogical at all about refusing to offer ones  medical services to an illegal activity. I think that your analogy does not represent the situation.

Well, all I can say to that is that you may want to talk with a few Medical doctors and ask them about their oath and moral and ethical responsibilities as physicians.

I think that a more representative analogy would be refusing to accompany a group of terrorists that are planning some sort of attack, and invite a doctor to accompany them in their attack so as to tend their wounds.

So, you view the UK military members that he would be accompanying as "a group of terrorists?".

My guess is that that Dr. Kendal-Smith would be happy to work for an Iraqui hospital, and would not refuse treatment to British soldiers that happened to be taken there.

I'm completely baffled as to how you would assume this...but, then again, I'm baffled by a lot of your statements in this post. Oh well...I guess this is social constructivism in action smile.

Steve



 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

I am sorry if I used the wrong word there with belief. I think that it has various shades of meaning some of which are inappropriate.

By "belief" I mean cognition or understanding or perception. 

I don't think we have a direct hot-line to the core of the law, a sort of metaphysical, extra-sensory bond with the essence of the law or the law-books. Plato argued that we do have such a bond, but I think that this is doff.

As far as I am aware, people reach an awareness of the law by reading law books and legal precedent, thinking about it, bringing to bear their conscience and sense of justice, and reach a belief, cognition, understand or perception of what (they believe, think, percieve...) is legal. There is nothing higher or more certain that this. In that sense there are no countries other than those things people "believed" would be considered "law".

Perhaps I should have used the word "considered," instead of "believed."

When you say "How about 'the law'???" it sounds as if it is a simple thing. Why is it that I find the law much less clear cut!?

Are there no laws against invading Iraqi in the UK?

Two things

1) The absence of a local, micro (as opposed to macro) law regarding the invasion of Iraq is not the be all and end all of the law.  There was (probably) in Nazi Germany no law established that made it illegal to follow orders to invade Sudetenland. If a German soldier had refused, and said "This is illegal, we can't go invading people" then a person of the time might have said "What law?! I'm unclear which one you have been ordered to violate." But the actions of Nazi soldiers, following orders to invade other countries, are subsequently considered to be illegal.

2) There is (possibly, see later) a law in the UK against the invasion of Iraq, as I pointed out above. British law relies on legal precedent, and the Nuremberg trials were deemed to be legal precedent, and in them it is stated that aggressive invasion, and following orders to invade are illegal.

The "possibly" above depends on whether one believes (again, the use above) that the invasion of Iraq was aggressive and illegal. I happen to consider that it was. I guess that you do not consider it so.

So, you view the UK military members that he would be accompanying as "a group of terrorists?".

In the sense that both are engaged in illegal aggression, yes.

I'm completely baffled as to how you would assume this...

Well, you are right that I have no information to support the claim that Dr. K-S would work in an Iraqi hospital. But at the same time I am baffled as to why you think that the doctor would refuse to treat a criminal in London. To me there is a great differences from (a) refusing treatment to someone wounded, to (b) refusing to accompany, and be counted among the ranks of, an illegal force (terrorist or aggressive invader). As I argued to above, I believe your analogy between (I would say conflating) these two to be invalid.

Tim

 
Average of ratings: -
Not a PHM :-)
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
"So, you view the UK military members that he would be accompanying as "a group of terrorists?".

In the sense that both are engaged in illegal aggression, yes."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, I think we have hit the core of our differences here. In my opinion, that is an absolutely asinine view. But, I do agree that you are entitled to your view.

This is my last post on this topic...thanks for the debate.

Steve
 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Steve,

I did mean to point out that the bigger question of the legality of Iraq is probably far too complex to be debatable here. Still, I like to think that one might approve of the spirit of Dr. Kendall-Smith action irrespective of ones view of the bigger picture.

I think that I might approve the mettle, or courage of a soldier taking an opposing stance contra an army that wished to prevent the American invasion of Iraq even inspite of my asinine view of its legality.

Perhaps there is something deeper to this? Are those that approve of the invasion of Iraq also those with a deeper respect for martial discipline? And are those that disapprove anti-authoritarian insubordinates, that would not know where to put an order even if it hit them? Surely not!

However, since the invasion of Iraq was supposedly to support democracy which I believe, has its roots in this sort of - Dr. Kendall-Smith's sort of - insubordination, it seems to me that there is something inconsistent in simultaneously supporting democracy even to the point of using force, and at the same time opposing the democratic expression of individuals.

Tim

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Erlyn Baack
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

"Dr. Kendall-Smith was not being sent to Iraq to fight, in fact, it would be illegal for him to do so. He was being sent to Iraq to heal."

Yet, according to the original article,

The charges faced by Kendall-Smith were that on June 1, 2005 he failed to comply with a lawful order to attend RAF Kinloss, Moray, for pistol and rifle training, that he failed on June 6, 2005 to attend a helmet fitting and between June 12 and 24, 2005 failed to attend a training course.

It's not possible to use the instruments in a medical bag and a rifle at the same time, is it?

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chris Lamb
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

"he failed to comply with a lawful order to attend RAF Kinloss, Moray, for pistol and rifle training"

A friend of mine was in the Royal Army Medical Corps (part of the British Army) in the 1950's.  He wasn't a doctor, but he was a medical orderly of some sort.  He was trained to use firearms for the protection of himself and his patients, and he did in fact carry a weapon on one foreign posting, because there were a lot of insurgents about.  I believe that the only people who never carry weapons are Chaplains.

Like others who have posted to this forum, I believe that the fact that he was a doctor undermines his position, as he would have been treating Iraquis (soldiers and civilians) as well as British troops.  To continue the analogy with the Nazis, if German doctors had refused to go to battlefields then many British soldiers would have died, because the Germans treated injured British prisoners of war (in the same way as British doctors treated German POWs).

The problem with the definition of 'legal orders' is that 'legal' is defined afterwards, and by the winners.  The orders which the Nazi war criminals carried out were, at the time, legal under their system (in fact it was illegal not to carry them out), and were only declared illegal by us after we'd won the war, and the definition of illegality was then back-dated.  If the Nazis had won the war those people would not have been convicted of anything, and the war crimes trials would have been held in England with Churchill and others in the dock.

During the last war we had 'conscientious objectors' who refused to join the armed forces.  (They were generally set to doing other tasks which benefited the nation without actually being involved in fighting or armaments production.)  This was during a period when we had conscription and no-one had the choice about whether to join up or not.  No-one is forced to join the British armed forces now, so if his conscience troubled him that much, and he believed that the war was wrong, then he could have resigned from the RAF completely and left behind the money, the rank, and the pension.  What he tried to do, however, was say "I want to stay in the RAF and keep taking the money, but I want to pick and choose which wars I fight in".  You can't do that.

I don't believe we should have gone to war in Iraq (we in Britain were lied to about things like weapons of mass destruction), but we did, and you can't have members of the armed forces saying "No thanks, I think I'll sit this one out".  If you join the armed forces you have to accept that 1. you might get killed and 2. you might have to fight a war you're not entirely happy with.  If you can't handle either of those possibilities then you should stay a civilian.  Obviously we allow the exception that if you're told to push Jews into gas chambers then you should refuse, but by the time things get to that state then you're acting at gunpoint yourself, and refusal to obey will get you shot.

On balance, then, I think that this doctor was wrong.  He would have been wrong if he'd been an ordinary soldier, as his orders were (and still are) lawful, and even more wrong as he's a doctor and it's his job to alleviate suffering, for the people of both sides caught up in an impossible situation.

Chris

 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Dear Chris

There are two issues in your post....

The first involving medical personnel.
> To continue the analogy with the Nazis, if German doctors had refused to go
>  to battlefields then many British soldiers would have died, because the
> Germans treated injured British prisoners of war (in the same way as British
> doctors treated German POWs).

In other words, we would disapprove of a German doctor that refused to accompany the invading armies of the 3rd Reich, as they entered the Sudentenland, Poland, and France, because, hey, she would be treating POWS too? How about she if treated SS soldiers doing things that we know they should not have been doing? A bandaid here, an amputation there, and maybe some painkillers for those that did not "deloused" (or carpet-bombed) enough to take the pain away.

How about a doctor that signs up for a Koran reading circle only to find that the circle is about recruiting soldiers for the Jihad against crusader imperialism. The group is going to take over an opera house in Paris. They invite the doctor along to tend the wounded Jihad fighters and the hostages. "Yes, I will go," the doctor says. We will approve of his actions too? How about if the doctor thought, "Nah, I don't approve of this. I don't want to lend my support to this endeavour?" Nasty doctor?

The second issue is
> "you can't have members of the armed forces saying "No thanks, I think I'll sit this one out".  "
It would be very inconvenient if we did have people like this when we want to invade another country. I think that Mr. Kendall-Smith wanted to be inconvenient. I think that he was a spanner in the works. And he will go to jail.

How far storonger he is than I! I would say to myself "well, I can help their wounded too," and make excuses for my participation in something that I know I don't approve of.

The more I think about it, the more I think that Dr. Kendall-Smith deserves applause, for the courage of his convictions. Britain, the West, and democracy at its best.

Tim

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chris Lamb
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

In other words, we would disapprove of a German doctor that refused to accompany the invading armies of the 3rd Reich, as they entered the Sudentenland, Poland, and France, because, hey, she would be treating POWS too?

Yes, I would.  Would it have made any difference if every German doctor had refused to accompany the invading armies - would Hitler have called off the invasions?  No he wouldn't, the only difference it would have made is that a lot of people (British, German, French, Polish) would have died from treatable wounds.

How about she if treated SS soldiers doing things that we know they should not have been doing?

You may not like the answer, but yes, the doctor should treat them.  It's not for doctors to act as judge and jury - for one thing they may not be in possession of the full facts.  The doctor should treat them to the best of his/her ability, and they should then face a proper court of law where guilt or innocence will be established and appropriate sentence passed.

It would be very inconvenient if we did have people like this when we want to invade another country.

And what about if we were going to the aid of another country?  Would you approve of a doctor refusing to go to, for example, Indonesia after the tsunami, because he disapproved of the political regime there?  Or as a peacekeeper to an area ravaged by civil war, like Rwanda, because he thought that Britain shouldn't get involved and should leave Africa to sort out its own problems?

Those of us lucky enough to live in a democracy have to accept that what our armed forces are called upon to do is "the will of the people", and therefore legal.  This doesn't mean that I like our present government (I'm actually a member of the UK's main opposition party), but they were democratically elected and are therefore judged to be acting on behalf of the people.  That being the case you cannot have soldiers (who are all volunteers, not conscripts) deciding what they will or won't do.

He had the option of leaving the RAF if his conscience troubled him that much, but he chose not to.  Presumably he was hoping that they'd send another doctor in his place so he could continue to draw his pay and enjoy the lifestyle of an RAF officer along with what he would regard as a clear conscience.  If they had, he would still have had guilt by association - he would still be a member of an armed service which was involved in a war of which he disapproved.  They may even have moved him to another post in the UK, to relieve another doctor who they could then send to Iraq, so he's still helped them to send a doctor to Iraq.

If my recollection of timescales is correct, he wasn't being sent to Iraq as part of the invasion force, he was to be part of the peacekeeping force.  We should never have started the war there, but we did, and having done so we have to stick with it and see it out, because if we suddenly pull out then the situation there will erupt into a very bloody civil war.  We have to try and repair the damage which we have caused, we can't just walk away and leave the Iraquis to get on with it.  What Kendall-Smith refused to do was to go out and treat soldiers who are trying to prevent civil war breaking out, and the civilians who are caught up in the violence.  That is not the action of a man who has sworn an oath to preserve human life.

Chris

 
Average of ratings: -
Me and Ray
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Dear Chris,

Upon reflection...

I could imagine approving the actions of a doctor taking part in some venture (all of the ones mentioned above) saying, "No I do not approve of the actions of this group, but I am sworn to preserve human life, this is my mission, I must go."
At the same time, I don't disapprove of a doctor that refuses to take part in something that they feel to be unlawful. If it were me, I would feel a conflict of duty, and it would come down to a question of degree.

I think that I have addressed the issue of whether soldiers (of all types) in should feel bound to follow orders, but I agree that the fact that the army is democratically elected adds something to the mix, and affects the decision regarding the conflict of duty.

I would still hope that even doctors would not take part if they felt that the millitary action were sufficiently unlawful.  

There is a manga/animation by Naoki Urasawa about a doctor that preserves the life of a "Monster."  It deals with the sort of conflict that a doctor might feel in this sort of situation, depending on ones view of the conflict of course.  

It seems unlikely to me that Dr. Kendall-Smith was hoping to "continue to draw his pay and enjoy the lifestyle of an RAF officer." That would not have been a well considered prediction and the doc seems very reflective, but maybe you are right.

Tim 

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of James Phillips
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
 
Average of ratings: -
Martin Langhoff - Sailing
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
> It was never my intention to hit such a raw nerve.

Some subjects just do. And they are good to discuss, but it is also good to be polite and realise that a particular discussion is better taken off the public forum. Not that it's taboo, but some issues are too distracting, too intense...

... and the intarweb is good for some sorts of discussions and bad for others, as the Godwin's Law points out albeit obliquely.

> Instead of requesting that such subjects are not posted,
> why dont you just simply not read them?

Bear in mind this is a social space. If two soccer fans get too excited and tangled in discussion at a party, it can be quite annoying. But they can go out to the balcony and anyone interested will follow them.

In that sense, this thread is getting a bit loud for the room. Though I do respect the subject being discussed, the fact that ppl around you are complaining means that it is perhaps better taken to a private email discussion.
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chris Lamb
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Hi Tim,

It seems unlikely to me that Dr. Kendall-Smith was hoping to "continue to draw his pay and enjoy the lifestyle of an RAF officer." That would not have been a well considered prediction

I agree - given the way our government is sticking determinedly to its belief that this was a just war it was impossible that he was going to be allowed to just not go; it was guaranteed that he was going to be punished.  It therefore seems to be a huge miscalculation on the part of an intelligent man, but intelligent men can make mistakes!  If he was prepared to do it anyway to get publicity against the war then I think he would have been better to have resigned and then gone to the newspapers with his story ("RAF Doctor quits over 'unjust' war").  He could have made his point with his 15 minutes of fame, and claimed much higher moral ground than he has with his 15 minutes of infamy, which has slightly weakened his position in many people's eyes.

On the general point of whether such subjects should be discussed on a Moodle forum, I have no real problem with it (obviously, or I wouldn't have been posting!).  This discussion has shown me that Moodlers are intelligent people, and the mark of an intelligent person is the ability and willingness to consider other people's views, even when they conflict with one's own.  Consideration of opposing views causes us to re-examine our own views, which is always good.  It makes us either confirm our views, in which case we know they are valid, having been strengthened in the fires of debate, or sometimes it makes us shift our views slightly.  Either way it is a good thing.  The mind, like a parachute, works best when it is open.

Had this discussion been held in many other forums (including most public bars) then it would have degenerated into flame wars or violence as people with entrenched views and closed minds became more and more heated.  This didn't happen here, which is refreshing.  Fellow Moodlers I salute you!  smile

Chris

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Paul Nijbakker
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

Hi Ralph,

I do not consider his punishment that harsh. I myself was condemned to a much longer imprisonment for resisting military conscription (i.e. draft refusal). The excuse military judges give for such punishment (heavier that that dealt out to rapists and muggers, for example), is that they want to set a general example.

I consider that by joining the army the good doctor agreed to take orders, and thus I believe that he should accept the consequences of refusing orders, whatever his motives for refusing are. That is how it works.

Rgrds,
Paul.

 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Dominic Cappello
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
It seems to me--in fascist times today and yesterday--that whether one is in or out of the military, one can not offer the response, "I was Just following orders." To my knowledge, there is no conclusive data indicating that supporting the American led and Blair supported war in Iraq is going to solve problems or save lives.
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of cdx cdx
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
From my perspective this discussion has added greatly to the value of the moodle community which is already incredibly valuable. I respectfully disagree about the volume getting a bit too loud. I would consider pointing students to this discussion as an example of incredibly contentious, important, and personal points of view that are the heart of democracy being discussed in a respectful and thoughtful way.  Discussion is the essence of democracy.  I find it hopeful that we are having a pan-nation discussion about democracy. 

I know of no other place where intelligent educators who understand the mechanics of dialog, discussion, teaching, and learning, as well as representing so many different perspectives from many countries can discuss a topic that affects us all and folks like myself can listen in and learn from.  Educators constantly seek to recognize educable moments and I consider this to be an important one.

Much appreciated.
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of James Phillips
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 
I agree with and appreciate everything Mr. Davis just said. I am beginning to find the rate with which technology is advancing more scary than exciting. The ability of the mass media in particular to provide uniform news that is "on-message" is really becoming quite staggering. The case against Iraq before the last (current?) war with Iraq is a case in point, and the current apparent campaign against Iran is another one. It is becoming very easy for countries or multinational military complexes to push their agenda and drag countries and their populations into wars that nobody wants. The other side is that technology such as what you are currently looking at can connect people directly on an individual level and thus provide an excellent antidote to counteract the messages pushed by the media. I have no interest in the opinion of a Mr. Rumsfeld or Blair, but I am very interested in the opinion of people with whom I often interact on a daily basis. I also have more trust in the opinions they are likely to come forward with. I believe the kind of communication I am referring to is often called "freedom", and it is something I personally would like to try to hang on to. 
 
Average of ratings: -
Picture of Chris Lamb
Re: Dark Day for the UK
 

I am beginning to find the rate with which technology is advancing more scary than exciting. The ability of the mass media in particular to provide uniform news that is "on-message" is really becoming quite staggering.

Agreed, to an extent, but the technology is a double-edged sword.  Yes it enables the mass-media to present news which is 'on-message', but it also enables the media, if they want to, to show images from the front which can sap the public appetite for war.  I think possibly Vietnam was the first war where news reports got back home and caused people to say "Hold on - should we be doing this?"  I guess if you have a supine Press they'll just reproduce whatever they're fed, whether it comes via 21st century technology or 1940's technology.

The British Press was largely supportive of the war before it started, as were the main opposition parties, but they're now very critical of it, because they've realised that they'd been lied to by Blair.  We were taken to war by blood-curdling threats of Weapons of Mass Destruction - horrible chemical and biological weapons which could be deployed within the now-famous 45 minutes.  Having over-run Iraq we discovered that they had nothing more mass-destructive than a hand grenade, and the Press and opposition parties realised that they'd been the victims of a con trick.

The Internet, as well, allows the spread of what we might call "subversive" information between people which previously would have been impossible.

It's quite hard to get people to want to go to war - even a just one.  Few people would argue that the war against Nazism wasn't just, but it still took Churchill and Roosevelt a long time to get the American public in the right frame of mind to go to war against Germany.  They were very close, but then Hitler did the job for them by declaring war on America in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour.  (This was probably his second-biggest mistake of the war.)

Chris

 
Average of ratings: -