Friday, May 24, 2019

An important survey by IAVA, and views from 3 LOAC/military justice experts

Lindsay L. Rodman
Lindsay L. Rodman, a lawyer and Marine Corps veteran, has written an important and disturbing piece for Just Security. She provides the results of a survey Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (for which she is director of communications and legal strategy) concerning the possibility that President Donald J. Trump may pardon or grant clemency in several war crimes cases, past and present. BLUF: a disturbing percentage of veterans and current military personnel are basically not on board when it comes to honoring the law of armed conflict. Excerpt:
Perhaps the most concerning results of IAVA’s poll, were the responses to the question: Do you believe the laws and rules that apply to use of force for service members in a combat zone are fair? While the majority of respondents believe that the rules and laws are fair (57 percent), 33 percent of IAVA’s veteran members expressed some doubt, saying that they are either “somewhat unfair” or “unfair.”
She writes, powerfully:
In my mind, these pardons, should they happen, represent a potential existential threat to the military justice system. Implicit in these pardons is an expression of lack of faith in the military justice system from the commander-in-chief. Mixed feelings from the broader military and veterans community indicate that while the president’s positions may not align with a majority, he has a strong constituency who favor his position on these pardons, and who also share his doubt about military justice and the laws of war.
Her final observation lays down a challenge that has not yet been met -- and needs to be:
Rather than merely panning these pardons as being unacceptable and an affront to military lawyers, we need to understand how and why we came to the point that an entire system of law is being questioned by a significant part of the population it is meant to serve.
BZ. With luck and leadership, the needed discussion will take place, regardless of whether and when President Trump acts.

Important postscript: Just Security also has a compelling essay by three respected military lawyers, our contributor Prof. Rachel VanLandingham and retired Rear Admirals John Hutson and Don Guter.

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