It is incumbent upon members of themodern military to act with speed and decisiveness in the execution of their orders. Implicit in this requirement is also the necessity to maintain connection with your moral compass. If you are instructed to fire on unarmed civilians, for example, you have the right and obligation to question your superiors and refuse to comply. We spent half a century reviewing the circumstances which led up to the second world war and the damage done by a professional military abandoning their core values.
Right now, Col. Mohamar Ghaddifi has instructed his military to slaughter its own citizens. If there is one sure test of a despot, it is the willingness of a leader to slay their own people. This has been borne out in the examples of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Amin, Amedinijad, Hussein, Allende, Pinochet and a list of smaller nations' leaders. Ghaddifi failed to follow the lead of Hosni Mubarak and give up his 40 year reign with some dignity. The risk to Egypt as a nation to descend into chaos was averted by the discipline exhibited by the military. Despite the quick aspersions cast by some on the left about the support for the Egyptian regime by the United States over the past decades, one of the very positive effects was a positive impact on military relations and support for the development of a professional military.
I am hopeful that the few Libyan officers who retain their sense of morality and justice will act to preserve their nation.
Following orders is not an excuse.