I am a retired Army officer who believes in the moral standing of the profession of arms, yet recognizes its shortcomings. I served in the Army from 1984-2017, mostly in the infantry and on the faculty at West Point. As a researcher of combat leadership and ethics, I interviewed hundreds of Army leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003-2011. Welcome to this online space for thinking about war, morality, and the profession of arms. Follow me @combat_ethics
Written by an active-duty Army officer, this article concisely describes the problems created when military forces lose sight of addressing the deep moral issues that are inherent in war. "Moral Injury: What leaders don't mention when they talk of war" by LTC Douglas A. Pryer. Army magazine (September 2014), 34-36. http://tinyurl.com/mvy7w5o I tip my cap to Doug and to Army Magazine for such an important contribution.
3 policy-based ethical failures by the US in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
I’ve had the privilege to observe and interview hundreds of Soldiers at their combat outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. As someone who cares deeply about ethical conduct in war, I can assure you that the conduct of the overwhelming majority of US Soldiers over the past decade has been nothing short of inspiring. Despite very challenging conditions, American Soldiers consistently maintain their humanity and act with justice and compassion. On numerous occasions, Iraqis and Afghans have told me they wish that their own security forces would treat them as well as US forces do.
Although our rank-and-file Soldiers on the ground have acted honorably, our senior decision makers have a more checkered record. There have been moral failings that we ought to acknowledge, learn from, and never repeat.
1. Torture (aka, enhanced interrogation procedures). This was perpetrated primarily by non-military OGAs (other…