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Accountability for KillingMoral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America's Post-9/11 Wars$
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Neta Crawford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199981724

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199981724.001.0001

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When Soldiers “Snap”

When Soldiers “Snap”

(p.219) 4 When Soldiers “Snap”
Accountability for Killing

Neta C. Crawford

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines cases where the members of the US military have gone against their orders and deliberately killed civilians. These are atrocities and war crimes on the assumption that the individuals are autonomous moral agents who could have done otherwise. What are the causes of these incidents? Are they isolated events, attributable to a few “bad apples” or combat stress? Does U.S. military training and the counterinsurgency mission tend to produce these atrocities? The chapter shows how training, the culture of obedience, and the fear that is omnipresent in war diminish individual moral agency. Individual soldiers can and sometimes do nevertheless act to increase their moral agency.

Keywords:   military atrocity, war crimes, bad apples, mad apples, individual moral agency, combat stress, fear

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