Fair and balanced: The very smart Mark Kleiman on the so-called mutiny,
Some new details have emerged. Not only was the fuel convoy ordered out will ill-equipped, ill-maintained vehicles and insufficient armed guard, the fuel they were ordered to deliver was fuel they had just tried to deliver to another base, which turned it away as contaminated. (The mission apparently was completed safely by an other unit, but the entire It's not hard to understand how an order to undertake duty not only hazardous but apparently futile might attract grumbling.
But flat refusal? That's beyond an "inappropriate" way to raise "valid concerns." (A reader points out that I was wrong to say, in my earlier post, that it was never justified: an illegal order is to be refused. But there's no suggestion that he order in question was illegal.)
and then we have the clever and cranky heart of gold Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran:
Our republican-support-the-troops friends have now proven for once and for all that the troops are not being supported in the way that they need to be. A platoon of reservists in Iraq, there for the great food and dancing girls basically told the powers that be "fuck no" when ordered to do a convoy run, and now they're being investigated for their alleged infraction.
My esteemed colleague, Mark Kleiman, whom I consider to be one of the smartest bloggers out there, makes a comment: Look, nothing justifies refusing orders in a combat situation.
I don't personally believe that to be the case, and we have no idea what these men and women knew (the current intel on the ground, for instance) and no one ever said that committing suicide was either a smart or particularly patriotic plan for winning a battle or doing a routine (?) resupply mission.
It doesn't look as simple as following or not following orders. There's much to be said for Mark's 2nd hypothesis "The order was so bone-headed that the publicity surrounding a court-martial might be embarrassing to the Army."
I didn't want to go legal on anyone, but came across this: Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War
There are also discernible connections, that the law can better exploit, between what makes men willing to fight ethically and what makes them willing to fight at all. Specifically, obedience to life-threatening orders springs less from habits of automatism than from soldiers' informal loyalties to combat buddies, whose disapproval they fear. Except at the very lowest levels, efficacy in combat similarly depends more on tactical imagination than immediate, letter-perfect adherence to orders.
I have a feeling that we have a clear case of "bone-headed" order a la Kleiman and refusal to "committing suicide" a la Fish. See two liberals do make a right.