“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.” ~ Luke 23:33
They didn’t just crucify him; they scourged him, stripped him, put a purple robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, mocked him, smote him with their hands, spit on him, cast lots for his garments, smote him on the head, feigned worship to him, and nailed him to a cross.
Crucifixion was an ancient, brutal, gruesome, painful, humiliating, and public method of execution. The “him” referenced above who was crucified is, of course, Jesus Christ. He was crucified even though he was declared to be without fault, not worthy of death, and a just person.
Who in the world would do such a thing? Who would nail the Son of God to a cross and crucify him?
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. (John 19:23)
Of all the horrible things that soldiers have done throughout history, this is certainly the most reprehensible.
Oh, but they were just following orders.
Apologists for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, most people who are indifferent to these wars, and even many of those who oppose them all generally agree on one thing: We should never condemn the soldiers; they are just following orders.
I have often been chastised, even by those who condemn the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, denounce the abuses of the U.S. government, and oppose an interventionist U.S. foreign policy, because I have criticized the institution of the military and the soldiers who mete out death and destruction on its behalf:
Soldiers, I am told:
- Are trained to kill people and break things
- Are required to follow the orders of their officers
- Must never question the orders they are given
- Must follow orders to maintain discipline and effectiveness
I agree completely.
The problem here is two fold: These things are true and the people who recite them the most don’t actually believe them.
It is because these things are true of soldiers that no American should enlist in the military and fight for what Will Grigg calls “the world’s most powerful terrorist syndicate, the United States Government.” When someone joins the military of a country like the United States with such an interventionist foreign policy and an empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe, he will be expected to not only uphold and maintain the policy and the empire, but carry it out and expand it by military force. When someone works for the policeman, fireman, bully, busybody, and social worker of the world — the U.S. military — he will be expected to participate in acts of military intervention.
But, some will reply in retreat, there are some things that soldiers shouldn’t do when ordered to do them by their superiors — like commit war crimes.
My point exactly.
But if that is so then soldiers would not be doing what they are trained to do, would not be following the orders of their superiors, would not be never questioning the orders they are given, and would not be maintaining discipline and effectiveness.
You can’t have it both ways.
In spite of the blame game that is played when it comes to soldiers being culpable for their actions, they are responsible and will have to answer to a higher power than their commanding officers. That higher power may be their religion, philosophy, moral code, or conscience, but unless they have made a god out of the military, it will be something.
Christ forgave those who crucified him; millions of Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Iraqis, and Afghans killed by the U.S. military are not only not so forgiving, they never even had the chance.