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Walking Away from Nuremberg

Just War and the Doctrine of Command Responsibility

Lawrence P. Rockwood foreword by Stephen Wrage

Publication Year: 2007

In September 1994, Lawrence P. Rockwood, then a counterintelligence officer with the U.S. Army's Tenth Mountain Division, was deployed to Haiti as part of Operation Restore Democracy, the American-led mission to oust the regime of Raoul Cedras and reinstall President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Shortly after arriving in-country, Captain Rockwood began receiving reports of human rights abuses at the local jails, including the murder of political prisoners. He appealed to his superiors for permission to take action but was repeatedly turned down. Eventually, after filing a formal complaint with an army inspector general, he set off to inspect the jails on his own. The next day, Captain Rockwood found himself on a plane headed back to the United States, where he was tried by court-martial, convicted on several counts, and discharged from military service. In this book, Rockwood places his own experience within the broader context of the American military doctrine of "command responsibility"—the set of rules that holds individual officers directly responsible for the commission of war crimes under their authority. He traces the evolution of this doctrine from the Civil War, where its principles were first articulated as the "Lieber Code," through the Nuremberg trials following World War II, where they were reaffirmed and applied, to the present.Rockwood shows how in the past half-century the United States has gradually abandoned its commitment to these standards, culminating in recent Bush administration initiatives that in effect would shield American commanders and officials from prosecution for many war crimes. The Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo prison abuse scandals, the recently disclosed illegal CIA detention centers, the unprecedented policy of tolerating acts considered as torture by both international standards and U.S. military doctrine, and the recent cover-ups of such combat-related war crimes as the Haditha massacre of November 2005, all reflect an "official anti-humanitarian" trend, Rockwood argues, that is at odds with our nation's traditions and principles.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press


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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv

Table of Contents

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p. ix

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pp. xi-23

There is no other person as qualified as Lawrence Rockwood to write this study of just war and command responsibility in the American military. His academic qualifications are absolutely first rate, but that is not the point. His study of both the long- standing traditions and the most recent applications of just war theory is thorough and insightful ...

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Introduction - Nuremberg, Germany, November 20, 1945

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pp. 1-10

In his opening statement as the American chief counsel for the prosecution at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson addressed the issue of whether the legacy of that tribunal would be simple “victor’s justice” or the establishment of principles of international reciprocity in holding ...

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Chapter One - Just War Doctrine and General Order No. 100

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pp. 11-44

During the third year of the Civil War, the War Department issued the Instructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field—known officially as General Order No. 100 and unofficially as the Lieber Code—to the deployed forces of the United States Army. In a 1963 edition of the International Review of the Red Cross, ...

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Chapter Two - The Doctrinal Development of the American Military Profession

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pp. 45-66

The future author of a book that would serve as scripture for the conservative political realists of late twentieth- century American military and diplomatic officialdom, Carl von Clausewitz, was serving as a staff officer in the rear guard of the Prussian forces seeking to cut off the French forces trying to reinforce Napoleon at Waterloo. A few miles ...

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Chapter Three - Command Responsibility and the Meaning of Nuremberg

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pp. 67-95

The World War II–era American war crimes program established a standard of command responsibility as part of a wider American war crimes policy. The central tenets of command responsibility and superior orders were first initiated as a change in military doctrine and were later imposed by U.S. military tribunals on defendants of the defeated ...

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Chapter Four - The American Military Ethic in the Early Cold War

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pp. 96-113

On July 25, 1950, four years, six months, and five days after American soldiers executed his order and placed a noose around the neck of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Imperial Japanese Army, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was still serving as the Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific. The forces under his operational control ...

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Chapter Five - Command Responsibility and the My Lai Massacre

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pp. 114-141

On March 16, 1996, I went to the little village of Son My in Vietnam on the 28th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre, the event having been so named because American military personnel incorrectly labeled the village in which the atrocity occurred. After identifying myself as a U.S. Army officer out of uniform, I met and had tea with Pham Th

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Chapter Six - The 1977 Geneva Protocol I and Post-Vietnam Military Doctrine

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pp. 142-168

Over the course of the decade and a half following the end of the Second Indochina War, the U.S. military profession underwent doctrinal and organizational revolutions as it reassessed the nature of its association with American civil society and its image of itself. Specifically, the attitudes of official and military authorities toward developments ...

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Conclusion - Drinking from the Poisoned Chalice

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pp. 169-180

In the fifth century, Augustine individually addressed military professionals on the proper or “just” conduct of their profession without deference to the concepts of either political realism or legal positivism. Many modern authorities echo Augustine’s antagonism toward mere legalism or the mere “sovereignty” of the state as foundations for ...


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pp. 181-218


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pp. 219-223

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761557
E-ISBN-10: 1613761554
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558495982
Print-ISBN-10: 1558495983

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 608504455
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Walking Away from Nuremberg

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Military ethics -- United States.
  • Command of troops.
  • Just war doctrine.
  • Command responsibility (International law).
  • War crimes.
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