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Walking Away from Nuremberg

Walking Away from Nuremberg: Just War and the Doctrine of Command Responsibility

Lawrence P. Rockwood
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Walking Away from Nuremberg
    Book Description:

    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 Americanled mission to oust the regime of Raoul Cedras and reinstall President JeanBertrand Aristide. Shortly after arriving incountry, 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 courtmartial, 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 halfcentury 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 coverups of such combatrelated war crimes as the Haditha massacre of November 2005, all reflect an "official antihumanitarian" trend, Rockwood argues, that is at odds with our nation's traditions and principles.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-155-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxii)
    Stephen Wrage

    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 and is obviously the product of years of exhaustive reading and analysis, but that is not the point either. Rockwood is the single person most qualified to make this informed and impassioned argument about how the powerful must step forward and take full...

  4. INTRODUCTION Nuremberg, Germany, November 20, 1945
    (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 individuals accountable for war crimes: “We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well.”¹

    On loan from the U.S....

  5. CHAPTER ONE Just War Doctrine and General Order No. 100
    (pp. 11-44)

    During the third year of the Civil War, the War Department issued theInstructions for the Government of the Armies of the United States in the Field— known officially asGeneral Order No. 100and unofficially as the Lieber Code—to the deployed forces of the United States Army. In a 1963 edition of theInternational Review of the Red Cross,future World Court justice Richard R. Baxter called this military order the “first modern codification of the Law of War.”¹ Nine years later, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Telford Taylor, former American chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Doctrinal Development of the American Military Profession
    (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 away, the future author ofGeneral Order No. 100,Francis Lieber, a Prussian enlisted soldier, lay wounded and near death. Many of the philosophic inclinations of Clausewitz were the reverse of Lieber’s. In fact, the two men’s contrasting views of the nature of...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Command Responsibility and the Meaning of Nuremberg
    (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 Axis powers. After receiving international validation, these standards were then reincorporated into U.S. military doctrine. This entire process was planned and administered by members of the American military profession in the U.S. War Department.

    In the U.S. military, the word “command” has two separate definitions...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The American Military Ethic in the Early Cold War
    (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 were now in the midst of fighting a new war on the Korean Peninsula. Over the past month, American forces were in full retreat as the North Korean Peoples Army (NKPA) pushed them into the southernmost tip of Korea, the Puson Perimeter. In attempting to create...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Command Responsibility and the My Lai Massacre
    (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 Phm Thành Công, the government official in charge of the My Lai Massacre Memorial Park (Khu Chúng Tích Són Mỹ). Phḁm Thành Công told me that he had been serving in a Viet Cong unit in the area of Son...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The 1977 Geneva Protocol I and Post-Vietnam Military Doctrine
    (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 in international humanitarian law underwent a substantial transformation, as documented by the sequential negotiation, endorsement, and later rejection of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 (otherwise known as Protocol I). While adjustments to formal keystone doctrine relating to the laws and customs...

  11. CONCLUSION Drinking from the Poisoned Chalice
    (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 the proper conduct of armed conflict. World Court Justice Richard Baxter, the author of FM 27–10,The Law of Land Warfare,lamented the “triumph of legalism over humanitarianism” in the contemporary discussions of international humanitarian law; and Antonio Cassese, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia,...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 181-218)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 219-224)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 225-226)