Abuse of Command

WALTER BRUEGGEMANN in your July-August 1997 edition has gone too far in generalizing from isolated incidents of violence by military personnel into presuming that there is some kind of "atmosphere" in the military that "does not limit the violence to the enemy, but includes whomever one may find compelling" ("Abuse of Command").

Standing military orders and international agreements do not contemplate anything like "required violence" even as regards the enemy. Humane treatment, such as capture as prisoners of war, is required even of the enemy. Applicable laws prohibit military personnel from committing violent acts, unless justified under the circumstances, against other persons, civilians or military.

Incidents which appear to have violated standing laws and orders must be investigated promptly and charges, if warranted, must be prosecuted vigorously in order to prevent the establishment of any "atmosphere" of the kind Brueggemann describes.

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