U.S. soldiers are trained to follow orders, which is exactly what they did as hundreds of villagers were indiscriminately killed in the My Lai Massacre. Even if the soldiers were acting under confusing orders, that is a failure of the chain of command, and even if the killings were orchestrated by a few incompetent officers, those officers never should have been placed in leadership roles. The real tragedy of My Lai represents an entire system of willful negligence and lack of accountability on the part of the military. Thus the responsibility for the massacre lies with the men involved, but also with the military chain of command that gave the order and then tried to cover it up.
“Moral Authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity, and treating people with respect”-Stephen Covey. With power comes great responsibility, just as authority does. However, sometimes people abuse their power in certain situations. It is also common to see people with power step on the people below them.
In 1961, Stanley Milgram (1963) carried out one of the most famous experiments in social psychology. He wanted to examine the conflict between a person’s obedience to authority and their personal conscience. This experiment was conducted one year after the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Eichmann, along with most of those accused at the Nuremberg War Criminal trials, often based their defense on ”obedience”. The justification for their atrocious actions was that they were simply following orders from their superiors.
In Vietnam Book One: Sharpshooter by Chris Lynch, Ivan, a teenager, joins the army to become a sniper. To begin with, Ivan has a friend named Rudi, and he gets drafted for the Vietnam War. Soon, Ivan decides he will volunteer to become a marksman. As expected, he gets put into a group of others that are training to be snipers. He gradually learns that being a sniper can be hard. Not long after, some friends he made while in Vietnam are killed. Ivan is promoted and must do one last mission before he can go home. Finally, Ivan goes home with morose thoughts about
Milgram himself concluded how easily ordinary people ‘can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority". (Milgram 1974) As this report has highlighted the research is not without controversy with many questioning to what extent Milgram’s experiment is true to real life and has been criticized for not highlighting further situational variables in determining obedience to authority. Regardless of this, there is no doubt Milgram highlighted a rather troubling phenomenon.
“I thought the Vietnam war was an utter, unmitigated disaster, so it was very hard for me to say anything good about it” - George McGovern. There are numerous controversial topics dispersed among the subject of American history due to the amount of unethical decisions that have been made in order to improve the lives of the people or keep America out of the clutches of war. Throughout American history, historians have debated the ethical impact that the Vietnam war had on the United States. Although some people may believe that the Vietnam War achieved the goal of avoiding communism and protecting the people, the overarching idea is that it was an unjust war because of the countless lives that were lost from the participating countries, the
“The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime of Obedience” is an article written by Herbert C. Kelman and V. Lee Hamilton, that chronicles the story of the My Lai Massacre of 1968 and the resulting investigation. The article also contains the author's opinions on the military’s stance on following orders, specifically following orders that could be considered illegal. This is also discussed in Marianne Szegedy-Madzak’s “The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal: Sources of Sadism”. In the article she discusses how guards will torture prisoners, because it is excused as a stress-relief tool, and were even congratulated by superiors for their actions. The torturers justified their actions because they believed they were helping the real interrogators out.
In Stanley Milgram’s “The perils of obedience” and Philip G. Zimbardo's “The Stanford Prison Experiment” the influence that authority holds is analyzed and tested in a variety of social experiments. Milgram asserts that any individual can excuse themselves from the responsibility of their role, regardless of how evil, on the grounds that there is someone ordering them to do so. However, Zimbardo claims that authority doesn’t have to be an individual, stating that anyone, be it a prison guard or a prisoner, will ultimately fill and perpetuate their assigned role as a result of authoritative factors and environments. However, the way in which both of the authors go to reaching these conclusions differs greatly.
The Unbeatable Souls The Lost Battalion is based totally on a real story of an American battalion that was sent out to battle during the World War I. Major Charles Whittlesey, a New York lawyer, who ends up in the trenches of France having under his command mostly young, unexperienced men. When Whittlesey and his battalion of five hundred men are ordered to advance into the Argonne Forest they find themselves surrounded by Germans troops when the other battalions instantly withdrew, leaving Whittlesey’s battalion on his own. Confined behind enemy lines, Whittlesey’s battalion turned into the only force in the German army’s plans to move forward. Trapped and with no other way to rescue, Whittlesey is given an opportunity to surrender, but chose to continue fighting and keep his men together.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist that led the Civil Rights Movement, and other movements until his assassination in 1968. On April 4, 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a speech named, “Beyond Vietnam- A Time to Break Silence” addressing the Vietnam War. The United States got involved in the Vietnam War because they wanted to stop the spread of communism. Due to the Vietnam War is that plenty of individuals, both Americans and Vietnamese were killed. Martin Luther King Jr. disagreed with the way the war was being handled, and thought nonviolent demonstrations would be more efficient. In his speech, “Beyond Vietnam- A Time to Break Silence” Martin Luther King Jr., uses appeals to emotion, appeals to credibility, and powerful diction to strengthen his argument and persuade his audience that the Vietnam War is unjust.
In the Vietnam war the United States lost everything that made it a superior defender for freedom and justice. We lost money and the support of American and South Vietnam citizens, because of that we lost our confidence and power. Without having confidence and feeling powerless, it questions whether we are capable of handling our nation 's conflicts while supporting South VIetnam.
In the wake of Adolf Eichmann’s prosecution for commanding the slaying of over 1 million Jews, Psychologist Stanley Milgram called the role of authority into question. What would propel such evil acts from a seemingly normal man? In spite of what top psychologists assumed the outcome would be, the results were astounding. Despite the deep rooted convictions of the subjects opposed to causing physical harm to others, obedience to authority overcame the majority of the time (The Perils of Obedience by Stanley Milgram) According to Milgram in his famous writing, The Perils of Obedience, “Even Eichmann was sickened when he toured the concentration camps, but had only to sit at a desk and shuffle papers.”
On August 2nd, 1964, three North Vietnamese Navy Cruisers were “unprovoked”, and fired on the USS Maddox while it was on a “standard patrol” in the Bay of Tonkin. President Lyndon B Johnson proclaimed this event in a speech that provoked the first attack, ordered by him before war was declared on Vietnam. However, that event was most likely a fake created to increase action in North Vietnam. Does the United States Constitution protect the United States from tyranny of the president over the people’s peace like that? The United States Constitution was written to give strength to the failed Articles of Confederation, and to protect the citizens from tyranny. Sadly, it was written in the 1700s. Tyranny is defined when one group or individual
Authority is defined as “the capacity of one member to issue order to others…to direct or regulate the behaviour of other members by invoking rights that are vested in his or her role” (DeLamater, J., et al, 2015, p. 332). Obedience to authority is more likely to transpire when the authority figure is wearing a uniform and threatens with punishments (DeLamater, J., et al, 2015). In Cool Hand Luke, the prison guards and ‘the Captain’ have authority over the inmates. Although the inmates and prison guards both wear a uniform, the difference in clothing allows for the roles to be easily determined and understood. The convicts must ask permission from the boss’ to complete any ordinary task, “wipin’ off here, boss?”
We have been trained to be obedient to authority. This quality is deep-rooted in us all from the manner in which we were brought up. It is natural for people to obey orders from those whom they recognized as their authority. This is the natural response to legitimate authority and can be learnt in a variety of situations. In a summary written in the article “The Perils of Obedience” (Milgram 1974), states: “The legal aspects of obedience are of enormous import, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations.”