The Importance Of Obedience At The Vietnam War Essay

The Importance Of Obedience At The Vietnam War Essay

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My Lai was a town in Vietnam that was attacked by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. Soldiers were under the impression that all civilians who were not a part of the Viet Cong (North Vietnam) were out of town for the market. They received this information from Intelligence and they were wrong. The helicopters started flying in and all the soldiers were clearly informed that there were to be no survivors from this town. Malevolent obedience was portrayed in this war and there are factors that I would like to share to help explain this. (Video in Lecture).
The first factor I believe that can help explain the obedience at My Lai was routinization. Routinization influences obedience in general by focusing on the little details and procedure rather than the big picture. It requires cognitive resources and eventually becomes automatic because you have done it so much. Routinization is a distraction from moral issues and independent judgement. (Lecture). During training, the soldiers were trained to kill the enemy. The malevolent obedience (routinization) started during the training. They are taught how to use weapons to kill and how different maneuvers are carried out by orders from a superior. They are taught how to deal with the enemy when they are faced against them. Many of the soldiers explicitly say they were trained to kill, but the training was much different than reality when the My Lai incident occurred. Training like this started early in the first few days they arrived at camp. Most of the soldiers who followed the commands of Lt. Calley stated that they just followed orders because it was automatic with their training at basic. (Video in Lecture). Lt. Calley stated during his trial that in training, there was a dedicatio...


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...ttle boy reminded him of his own son. This factor could explain the obedience because instead of seeing the people as victims, they saw them as the hostile enemy, which made them more prone to kill them without mercy. (Video in Lecture).
The My Lai Massacre was an unfortunate event that many people suffered from. Both soldiers and victims of the war came out with problems. One woman from the Vietnamese stated that all she felt was sadness because she witnessed her family being slaughtered/raped. Simpson, the soldier, carried photographs from that day as a constant reminder of the pain he caused them. He also took several medications to cope and tried suicide three times (eventually succeeding). (Video in Lecture). Malevolent obedience was definitely seen in the massacre and you can see how these factors contributed to the soldiers’ compliance to orders. (Lecture).

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