Obedience At All Costs

1382 Words6 Pages
Following orders unquestionably is one of the traits that the military wants their soldier to have; this quality, however, has caused controversy throughout time. Rob Reiner captures this struggle in his film A Few Good Men. In this film, two men, Lance Corporal Dawson and Private First Class Downey are charged with the murder of fellow Marine, Private First Class Santiago. Dawson and Downey claim that they did not commit a crime but rather, were following orders to perform a “Code Red”. A “Code Red” is defined as a disciplinary action performed inside the Marines by Marines. Stanley Milgram’s article, “The Perils of Obedience” delves into the issue of obedience. His experiment consisted of subjects being told to electrocute other people by an authority figure and observing what occurred. Another article “The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime of Obedience” by Herbert Kelman and V. Lee Hamilton discusses soldiers who follow orders unconditionally. Kelman and Hamilton discuss the case of soldier, Lieutenant Calley with his court case concerning the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War. Questions are raised constantly about why someone would follow orders that are against his own morals. Many people believe one of the leading factors for someone obeying unethical orders is the one issuing the order. In A Few Good Men Dawson and Downey obey an order to harm another marine knowing that it is wrong and they will not enjoy it. Downey states that the code red was ordered by a higher ranking officer and thus should be followed to the letter (Reiner). Kelman and Hamilton would see him following a superior order that was issued by an authoritative officer (Kelman 271). However, Milgram would say that Dawson and Downey’s obedience to ... ... middle of paper ... ...e discharge. Soldiers find themselves in a no win situation with no where to run. Works Cited A Few Good Men. Dir. Rob Reiner. Perf. Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. Columbia Pictures, 1992. Film. Cialdini. Authority Principle. 2011. Web. 6 November 2011. Kelman, Herbert and Hamilton, V. “The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime of Obedience”. Writing and Reading for ACP Composition. Ed. Leahey, Thomas and Farris, Christine. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009.266-278. Print Maine, Tim, Jon Brachle and Art Arago. "Ethics and the Advancement of Miliary Technology." n.d. Ethicapublishing. 7 November 2011. Print. Milgram, Stanley. “The Perils of Obedience”. Writing and Reading for ACP Composition. Ed. Leahey, Thomas and Farris, Christine. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009. Print Powers, Rod. Military Orders. 2011. Web. 7 November 2011.
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