Debate:Was American soldier Michael New right to refuse to fight wearing part of a United Nations uniform?

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Yes! We don't realize what is at stake with this battle. If American soldiers can be forced to serve a foreign military against their will, then we are not a free country. Michael New joined the Army to fight for America, not to further a third-parties goals for world peace. PhilipB 10:41, 12 January 2007 (EST)

  • Reply As a member of the US Armed Forces he was (would have been) fighting for America. Just because in this case America was working together with other nations does not change that fact. A soldier in the military does not have the right to choose his duty. He signed up to fight as a soldier for America wherever America wanted him to go. If you think that he has a right to choose where he fights, then you have to defend any soldier who does not like following orders and fighting where he is told to fight. Also It was not "third parties goals" because America is part of the UN they have to do their part in the UN peacekeeping forces, as much as i hate the UN does not change that fact. If America tells him to fight for the UN then that is his duty to America. Even though American forces fighting in Vietnam and Korea were not directly fighting to defend America, they were still fighting for America. it is the same concept here.

--TimSvendsen 23:43, 15 January 2007 (EST)

  • Reply So if the United States told Michael New to go and exterminate two million black people, as you say, "a soldier in the military does not have the right to choose his duty." Therefore, Michael New would have to go and kill two million people.
  • Reply Military law has very clear rules about what constitutes a lawful order. An order to commit genocide would be unlawful, and therefore a serviceman is not only not obliged to follow it, but would be obliged to object. This is the basis upon which Nazi war criminals were found guilty of crimes they committed while under orders from their superiors.

An order to serve on a UN mission would be issued through the correct chain of command and would be lawful. A soldier would have no legal basis to object. I personally believe (as an ex-servicman) that any military personnel refusing a lawful order for political reasons should be punished severely. If we allow our military to become politicised we weaken democracy.

Comment: This argument regarding black people is terrible straw man fallacy; anyone can see that killing two million people is nothing like wearing UN uniform.

--BenjaminS 21:11, 16 January 2007 (EST)

Therefore, you are correct. It's a very serious issue to become a "GI" (Government Issue) because you are giving up your right to decide what's best, even on a moral issue. Should your commander-in-chief assign you a mission that is morally questionable, you must obey or become derelict in your duty and suffer the consequences of a court marshal. Great thought has to be given when one is considering giving allegiance to any government that requires an unconditional allegiance to it causes, including wars and enforcing its policies, whether you agree with them or not. (These last thoughts were derived by input from my father) -- ~DeborahB~
  • Reply: I agree with this. The arguments that I made above were mainly aimed at the laws that allow the US to force someone to serve the UN. Obviously, if you join the military you have to obey your commanding officers. For this reason you better be positive you're ready to do anything the military says before you sign up. When Hitler's soldiers were put on trial at the end of the war they claimed that they were "just obeying orders." Hopefully America's government will remain moral enough so as not to scare any moral people from signing up. Joining the UN was a step in the wrong direction. PhilipB 10:01, 16 January 2007 (EST)
    • Reply Again, no-one is 'forced' to 'serve the UN'. Nations decide whether or not to participate in UN actions, and it is those nations that 'force' their military personnel to deploy. The remark about Hitler's soldiers is a fallacy; the Nuremberg trials made it very clear that 'I was just following orders' is not acceptable as a defense when it comes to certain crimes, known these days as crimes against humanity. And America didn't take a step in the wrong direction by 'joining the UN'; it was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the UN, and one of its founding member nations. Check it out: Niwrad 13:23, 18 March 2007 (EDT)
    • Reply We have to separate the moral argument from the constitutional argument for a second here. You are correct that under the constitution if Michael New was ordered to kill 2 million black people (why are you dragging racism into this debate?) then he would have to obey. The Bible Tells us to obey those in authority over us, unless they are telling us to do something morally wrong. that is the difference. In the example you gave, Michael New's Moral obligation would be to refuse to kill the people, and take his dishonorable discharge. In the UN case, obeying his superiors would not be morally wrong. Therefore, disobeying was wrong both constitutionally and morally. --TimSvendsen 20:30, 16 January 2007 (EST)
    • Reply Wrong. Under the UCMJ, no member of the armed forces is required to obey a patently illegal order - such as, for example, the disingenuous example above, of being ordered to kill two million black people. However, there is nothing illegal in the American government ordering an American serviceman to serve under American officers in a unit to be employed in a UN operation. Bear in mind the UN has no power to compel its member nations to participate in any UN intervention, so when American units participate in such, it is with the full knowledge and blessing of the government. Furthermore, the government at no time surrenders control of those personnel to the UN; if the mandate for the UN operation in question should change - or even if it doesn't but the government no longer wishes to support the mandate - then the government withdraws its troops. It's as simple as that. Likewise the American government and military are perfectly within their rights to order their servicemen and women to wear whatever insignia they deem suitable to the taskings at hand. If a unit is deploying in support of a UN operation and that unit's personnel are required to wear the UN-blue helmet and shoulder patch, then that's the ordered uniform. So Michael New knowingly disobeyed a lawful command from his superiors.
Bye the bye, there seems to be a notion that American servicemen and women cannot be required to serve under foreign command. That's a crock; there are American servicemen on exchange with other nations all the time, and while they are working with those other nations, their duties are prescribed by that nation, and they can be subject to that nation's military regulations as well as the UCMJ. Of course, foreign military personnel working in the US can likewise be subject to the UCMJ as well as their own national military regs. What American servicemen and women cannot be required to do, either by the American government or a foreign government, is to surrender their connection to the chain of command - short, that is, of being released from their service. Of course, this same right obtains with foreign military and their governments as well - the US government cannot require a British officer on exchange in the States to act against his oath to the Queen, for instance. Niwrad 04:00, 18 March 2007 (EDT)
(Note - edited very slightly to change the indents, as I realized that it looked as though I was disagreeing with User:TimSvendsen, when actually I was disagreeing with User:PhilipB. My bad.) Niwrad 21:39, 18 March 2007 (EDT)

Yes he was, and I'll prove it. In class yesterday, I was trying to make the argument that some of Michael New's rights as a citizen of the United States might be compromised if he were forced to join the United Nations. While that is true, as shown in article 1 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations itself is what really condemns the action:

Article 15 
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality. 
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his  nationality.
Article 20 
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. 
2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

The United Nations could not even accept him into the Peacekeeping Corps. if he objected.

David R

  • Reply Even if the UN could not force him to fight, (which is debatable) America still could. America does not have to follow UN policy. Michael New was subject to the US Military and they told him to. He does not have the right to refuse.

--TimSvendsen 23:46, 15 January 2007 (EST)

Excellent point, David! I may be able to use your point in a law brief to the Supreme Court. --Aschlafly 11:58, 12 January 2007 (EST)

Do you think that the Supreme court will accept an argument based on the UN declaration of human rights in any case, especially a case involving an American soldier disobeying orders under American law? --TimSvendsen 23:48, 15 January 2007 (EST)


Nobody is being deprived of their nationaliy, the United Nations included America. Since New was an American soldier he was obligated to serve his commanders unless they were violating the constitution. I don't think having to wear a special uniform that shows your nation is part of the United Nations is against the constitution.

Double Edge

Comment on the Constitution:

Michael New sites article I section 9 of the constitution which says that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under [the United States], shall, without consent of congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state.” The reason why Michael New’s argument fails to fit his citation of the constitution is the word ‘emolument’. According to Noah Webster’s dictionary, the word ‘emolument’ means “the profit arising from office or employment; that which is received as compensation for services.” The salary of the American soldiers on a UN peacekeeping mission is still paid by the US. Furthermore, it is by the order of the United States that they wear a UN uniform; Michael New was clearly not accepting emolument from the United Nations.

--BenjaminS 21:11, 15 January 2007 (EST)

Reply: So you're saying that, as long as you are getting paid, you should do anything for the US Military, even if it wasn't in the original job description? OK, Ben, I know how much you like straw men, so I will give you a situation that is a little more reasonable. Say you were my personal assistant for a week...I am paying you very well - $5000 for the whole week. I tell you to water the garden, vacuum the house, and take out the trash. Its halfway through the week and everything is going great. But then I tell you to go help my next door neighbor out. You and I are best-friends, but you don't know this guy. You soon learn that he is a very different boss: he yells at you a lot and makes you do the chores you hate to do. You complain to me that this isn't what you signed up for. But what can I do? You told me that, for $5000, you would do anything for me - I needed you to help out my neighbor. Not my problem. I thouroughly enjoyed narrating this story for you, and I will be shocked if you call this a straw man. This story is very similar to what is happening to Michael New, and probably a notch lower than being forced into a foreign military, don't you think? David R

Reply Yes, that is indeed the case - with the proviso that members of the armed forces cannot be required to obey illegal orders (see above for the specious instance of being ordered to commit mass murder). Other than that - if you're in the military and you're given duties you didn't think you might be given, well that's a shame, but there it is. That's part of the bargain every soldier, sailor, airman and marine makes when they sign on the dotted line. Lots of kids in boot don't think they'll have to do KP or clean toilets, but it's part and parcel of military duties. There was some furor a while ago over soldiers defecting to Canada (shades of Vietnam!) because they didn't think they'd ever have to go overseas and/or go into combat. Guess what - they're wrong. Don't get me started on how is it possible for a kid to grow up in America and NOT realize that the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force may mean leaving home and being shot at. That's a rant for a different day and venue. Niwrad 04:08, 18 March 2007 (EDT)
Addendum - BTW, Mr. New was NOT being 'forced into a foreign military'; the UN does not maintain armed forces of its own. He was told off to participate, as a member of his unit, an American military unit, in a UN operation supported and endorsed by the government of the United States. Whether nor not the US should have been involved in that is not for him to decide, other than as a voter at the polls. Niwrad 04:11, 18 March 2007 (EDT)

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Above is the oath that Michael New and all military personnel take when enlisting in the United States Armed Forces. It is inaccurate to say that a soldier is bound to obey any and every order given by a superior- note that allegiance to the Constitution precedes obedience to superior officers, and even such obedience is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. For example, if a president attempted to use his power as Commander-in-Chief to usurp the power of the legislative and judiciary branches in a military coup, it would be the duty of a soldier to resist the orders of the President in order to defend the Constitution.

With that said, I do not belive that Michael New had the right to disobey orders in this case. Article VI of the United States Constitution states, "All Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, Shall be the supreme Law of the Land;" New's unit was detached to a UN peacekeeping force pursuant to a treaty made under the authority of the United States. As Tim pointed out, His situation was essentially simailar to that of other American soldiers acting in multilateral coalitions, as in World War's I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the current war in Iraq. A UN beret was simply an identifier to facilitate cooperation among the troops of different nationalities in a diverse peacekeeping force. By disobeying his orders, New was acting not only against his superior officers but against the United States Constitution.

As a patriotic, conservative American, it is painful to argue in favor of the UN and against a brave and patriotic American soldier. As a matter of policy, I do not believe the USA should be affiliated with the UN. However, we must accept that in a free and representative government, not every decision will accord with our wishes. If we want our political opponents to respect the Constitution, we must respect it ourselves.

Chris J.


It's also worth noting that the question itself is somewhat misleading. There is no 'UN uniform'. There are UN-pattern kit items which are nationally issued, such as badges, UN-blue berets, helmets, etc. They are supplied by the member nations to conform to their own military kit; thus, American soldiers use American helmets either painted UN blue or with a UN blue liner. Similarly, British soldiers use British kit, Canadians use Canadian kit, etc., etc. It has to be this way as the UN has no authority to issue uniform items to the military personnel of member nations. Just thought I'd correct the misapprehension. Niwrad 21:31, 18 March 2007 (EDT)

To all of you patriotic conservative Christian Americans, I have a very important point to make, so pay very close attention. If, as you allege, God created man in his image, this includes all men (and women, who we all know were created from and are lesser than men). Despite a particular culture's refusal to accept our one true God, and his son as our Saviour, he is no less the God of all. Should not your allegiance be to your one true God, and not to some arbitrary assimilation of people? God supersedes your constitution, and the United Nations seeks to unite all that are God's people. --TrueGrit 01:41, 11 April 2007 (EDT)

I disagree. According to the UN charter the purpose of the UN is:

  "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime 
     has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
   to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human 
     person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
   to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from 
     treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
   to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
   to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
   to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
   to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed  
      force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
   to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement 
      of all peoples..."[1]

Nowhere in this is any mention made of God, or any "gods of this world", including but not limited to Allah, shivna, jupiter, buddha, etc. In any case, from the same argument, what of those who aren't God's people? To be God's people necessitates actually following the principles of God (see 1 Cor 11:1, Eph 5), which drastically cuts the number of people who make claims to said status that may actually be included in said group (see Matt 7:21-23). But anyone who claims to converse with the Almighty for the sake of political and worldly power is highly suspect.

More onto topic. To wear the badge or symbol of a group, individual, or nation is to show allegiance to said party. To wear the badge or symbol of a foreign power (e.g. anyone other than the United States of America) is to show allegiance to said foreign power and thus don its uniform also. Soldiers cannot serve two masters as this is treason. Either they serve the UN or they serve the USA. They are not the same. Nor can one subordinate one duty to another.

In the matter of oaths and treaties. If an attempt is made by a president to conclude a treaty which subordinates the US constitution as a whole to a higher level of government such as is being hammered out in the form of a North American Union (Security and Prosperity Partnershiphttp [2]) he would be guilty of blatant and open TREASON. If a treaty is treasonous then it's void. The order oaths are taken in are important. The constitional oath is first and the presidential oath comes later. If the president orders the military to violate the constition then the oath to the president is void as he is guilty of treason. Too few politicians are held to their oaths of office anymore and the whole procedure has turned into basically a mere formality to be ignored immediately after assuming office. Left, right, middle... it matters not. Its best described by a famous man who said if you put all the politicians into a sack and shake it up then pull two out randomly "there ain't a dime's worth a' diference!" But despite all claims to the contrary the oath of loyalty is taken, in all practicality, to the government paycheck. A standing army is a mercenary (a.k.a. someone who fights for money) type of army. Hence it's inherent danger to a free society. Read up on the decline of the Roman Republic to learn more.

What if there was a number of natural disasters of huge proportions to strike the USA in a short period of time which became coupled with popular unrest as a result of a seemingly increasingly detached political elite. How many Americans would willingly accept "peacekeeping missions" by UN "peacekeepers" from foreign nations. Rather far fetched, admittedly, but something to think about.--Historiocality 18:04, 29 June 2007 (EDT)