Currently I am completing some Distance Learning for a leadership qualification. I’m noticing some particularly disturbing (at least to me) text. For instance…
The powers conferred on military leaders are extraordinary and they are conferred so that leaders may advance the goals of the state in accordance with the law.
Well what happens if a government intent on committing genocide gets in power? The military is obliged to follow through on orders to commit genocide. There’s lots of text about soldiers being morally and legally bound to disobey a manifestly unlawful order. However, it gets a bit murky when a government changes the unlawful to lawful. Bear in mind that 50.1% of the population can vote to legally kill the remaining 49.9%.
Another particularly disturbing quote from this leadership course:
However, once lawful Government direction is issued, it is the leader’s duty to ensure that such direction is carried out, regardless of whether the leader personally agrees with the decision or the direction provided.
According to this… if Stephen Harper uses his Executive power to issue a direction to shoot dead disabled people, the military is obliged to follow it.
The same goes for the passage below:
The mission of the CF is to use force or threaten to use it with the realization of Canada’s interests in mind.
Now you might say this is all academic but maybe not so much. I once read a Macleans article that said 49% of Canadians are admittedly racist in varying degrees. That’s 16,000,000 who don’t like people based on their skin color. A CBC news story1 puts that amount at 47% outside Quebec and 59% in Quebec.
Considering what’s happened throughout history in places like Cambodia, Germany, Rwanda, and Soviet Union… is it really that far of a stretch to think something similar couldn’t happen in Canada where half the country don’t like people of other races?
The Canadian military shouldn’t be unconditionally obliged to uphold what the government wants or says is right. Words have power. Important words are missing from some of the quotes:
The mission of the CF is to use force or threaten to use it with the realization of Canada’s interests when Canada’s interests are in line with internationally accepted principles of righteousness in mind.
In the same vein:
However, once lawful Government direction, (one that would be normally be accepted by the majority of internationally recognized “civilized” countries) is issued, it is the leader’s duty to ensure that such direction is carried out, regardless of whether the leader personally agrees with the decision or the direction provided.
This would create an obligation in clear written form for the Canadian military to disobey orders and prevent crimes against humanity should Canada’s government decide to go the same route as Apartheid, the Killing Fields, or the Third Reich.
A military dedicated to preserving good and upholding righteousness is, in my humble opinion, far preferable to a military dedicated to protecting and upholding a government’s wishes.