DON’T ARGUE WITH THE JUDGE YOUR GUILT HAS ALREADY BEEN DECIDED
As he climbed the 13 steps to Manilla’s gallows on February 23, 1946, Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita in his few remaining seconds probably contemplated why he was there.
Perhaps he should have read 6th century Chinese strategist Sun Tszu’s admonition that a commander’s duty was to ensure that his subordinates conducted themselves in a civilised manner during an armed conflict.
The obscene business which is war has many rules. Command responsibility, also now called the Yamashita Principle, is that obligation of all commanders to ensure their troops fight within those rules.
Failure to do so is considered an omission mode of individual criminal responsibility. Further WWII war crimes trials remarked, inter alia, “failure to properly supervise subordinates constitutes criminal negligence on a commander’s part” based upon “a wanton, immoral disregard of the action of subordinates amounting to acquiescence.”
Summarised, these trials found command responsibility ended at the most senior level in all circumstances.
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