Military Ethics In Variant Cultural Traditions

Warrior Codes Revisited

Authored by: Shannon E. French

Routledge Handbook of Military Ethics

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415743686
eBook ISBN: 9781315813516
Adobe ISBN: 9781317801771


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In 2013, a 39-year-old British Royal Marine, Sergeant Alexander Blackman, was sentenced to life imprisonment (meaning he will serve a minimum of 10 years before parole consideration) for the murder of a wounded Taliban prisoner. At his trial, it was revealed that when Sergeant Blackman shot the prisoner, he said, “There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.” 1 These comments suggest that Sergeant Blackman’s combat experiences (which were extensive—he completed three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan) had led him psychologically to a place where he felt intense disdain for his opponents, or at least for Taliban fighters such as the man he shot. They also seem to indicate that the sergeant believed at the time of the shooting that treatment of one’s enemies should depend on some level of reciprocity. In other words, enemies who do not observe the rules of war do not deserve the protection of those rules.

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