Skip to comments.GIs can be forced to wear U.N. beret: judge upholds court martial of soldier who refused orders
Posted on 12/26/2004 1:11:46 AM PST by JohnHuang2
The U.S. military can force its personnel to wear the blue beret of the United Nations and serve under the world body's command, a federal judge ruled.
Judge Paul Friedman upheld the military's conviction of former Army specialist Michael New, who refused to don the U.N. cap and shoulder patch and to serve in a peacekeeping mission in Macedonia nearly 10 years ago, the New York Sun reported.
New argued that the Constitution and the law governing U.S. participation in the world body prevent the president from sending American troops into possible combat under U.N. command without express authorization from Congress.
New, whose defiance became a cause celebre in the mid-1990s among U.N. opponents, launched a website that included his picture with the message, "Michael New was right. ... Real Americans don't wear U.N. blue."
He was court-maritialed and convicted in 1996 and given a "bad conduct" discharge from the Army, which later was upheld by military appeals courts.
Judge Friedman wrote in his 35-page decision that trying to sort out whether the president had ceded too much authority to foreign military officers "would involve policy determinations beyond the competence of the court," the Sun reported.
New's father told the paper an appeal is likely.
"We're disappointed," Daniel New said. "It's not printable what I want to say."
In addition to appealing to the Constitution and the U.N. Participation Act of 1945, New's lawyers argued that forcing him to serve under an international army he never signed up with abridged the ex-soldier's rights against "involuntary servitude" under the 13th Amendment.
Friedman, dismissing New's claims, said he could have pursued his legal points without defying his commanders.
"Petitioner had numerous avenues, besides direct disobedience, by which to challenge that order," he wrote.
Cliff Kincaid, author of a book about New's crusade -- "Michael New: Mercenary or American Soldier?" -- told the Sun the judge was right to suggest Congress could have stepped in.
"The Congress should have done more, but Friedman should have overturned the illegal order and New's bad conduct discharge," Kincaid said.
Kincaid objected to President Clinton's order to American troops to participate in the Macedonia mission and President Bush's unwillingness to change the procedure.
"U.S. troops deployed on U.S. missions under Bush still wear U.N. markings on their uniforms, including a U.N. shoulder patch and beret," Kincaid told the Sun. "Even though they serve under a foreign U.N. commander, he insists they are still somehow under U.S. command. It doesn't add up."
Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, contended the president's authority to defend America would be weakened if New prevailed.
"You'd be undercutting our ability to work with our allies. You'd also be weakening the power of the commander in chief of the United States," he said.
O'Hanlon argued American troops in past wars have been temporarily put under tactical foreign command more than under the U.N., with little objection.
New's father, however, believes the case has given the Pentagon a "bloody nose," causing it to look elsewhere to staff U.N. missions.
"Pakistanis and Indians are cheaper than Americans and there's no political fallout if they die. So let's just outsource it all," he said derisively.
I know I am going to get flamed on this, but... It appears he knew what he was doing and was going against the direct orders of his superiors. He took the risk that he would be punished for his actions, and that is what happened. I am in full agreement with him, but at the same time, he was disobeying orders.
On May 3, 1994, President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25), a policy directive outlining the administration's position on reforming multilateral peace operations. PDD-25 defined requirements that must be satisfied before the U.S. will participate in international peacekeeping operations. In one of PDD-25's provisions, the Clinton Administration clarified the position of the United States with regarding command and control of United States military personnel participating in a multilateral peacekeeping operations. The Directive defines "command" of United States armed forces and "operational control" of those forces, distinguishes between the two, and maintains that the President never relinquishes "command" over United States military personnel, even though he he may place United States military personnel under the "operational control" of a non-U.S. commander for limited and defined purposes. If the U.S. relinquished "command" over those forces then they wouldn't be able to recall them or replace them with other units. But that didn't happen.
Given those parameters then the U.S. frequently placed whole armies under foreign operational control during World War II, while maintaining overall command over those forces.
"Given those parameters then the U.S. frequently placed whole armies under foreign operational control during World War II, while maintaining overall command over those forces"
I am not asking this to be agrumentative, I merely wish to gain further understanding. Perhaps you can help.
I was born in 1948, too late to have witnessed these things first hand. My father served in the Pacific theater. He was a SeaBee. Other than reading and some historically based movies I have seen, my knowledge of the military operations comes from personal accounts I have gotten from Veterans of that era. The situation as I understand it was one in which US troops not only were NOT under foreign control, but that a friendly rivalry existed between the Allied Armies over who could dominate the field of battle more effectively.
Specifically, there was the well publicized competition between Patton and Montgomery, in which Patton chose to ignore directives from Allied command to claim specific victories for his army.
Did not the ultiumate command AND control of all Allied armies rest with Eisenhower? Has it not been a condition of our participation in NATO that the NATO commander is always an American General?
Again, I am not asking to be argumentative. If my information is wrong I would appreciate you correcting me!
PS: Regarding Clinton's Directive: Leave it to Bubba to parse words to appease both sides while doing the bidding of the UN! This sounds like something Kerry would have thought up. (Except he probably would have specifically put our boys under the French flag!)
Then you have to ask, does the NATO commander 'command' those NATO forces under him or does the ultimate command lay with the countries providing them? I think that the second is true because ultimately the German forces answer to the German government and the British answer to the British government. The NATO commander will exercise operational control, just like the U.S. command in Iraq may exercise operational control over the coalition forces there. But command in the ultimate control form of the word? No. And I believe that this was also true when Eisenhower ran the show. Eisenhower exercised operational control over the units but in the end the ultimate command authority went up their chain of command to their King or their Commander-in-Chief. In any case, there were other Supreme Commanders of other areas, one of which was Admiral Mountbatten who commanded the forces in the Southwest Pacific area, including China, Burma, and India. If Eisenhower exercised command over the allied forces in Europe then one would have to say that Mountbatten exercised command over the allied forces in his area, including Americans.
Absolutely not. Command of the Mediterranean Theater was under Field Marshal Wilson and then Field Marshal Alexander, both British.
You are bringing up a rational point in this thread? Fool!
Seriesly, of course there was mixing. After Ike left Italy in 1943, General Maitland Wilson was appointed Supreme Commander of the Mediterranean Theatre. General Alexander commanded the 15th Army Group under him, which consisted of the 5th US Army and the 8th BritishArmy.
FDR actually wanted Marshall to command all of the Western Fronts, but Churchill vetoed that. FDR then decided Ike would command Overlord instead of Marshall.
I'd be ROTFLMAO if it weren't for the fact that it may actually come to that! I can see a day when the ARMED and FREE people of the US have to assert their soverignty against the the UN. That is why I consider it so important that US troops are never under their command, control, influence or whatever other parsimonious term the Clintons and Kerrys of the world want to use.
This whole thread is ironic in the extreme. What actually happened is that the judge "recused" the judicial branch from this case because this is a command question for the President. The plaintiff tried to get the judicial branch to limit the President's authority as C-in-C, and the judge didn't buy it. Certain court cases are deemed "political questions" that courts will not take, because they belong in the Executive and/or Legislative Branches.
Extreme example -- the President orders a Marine Regiment to be placed under Chinese Command and sent to Tibet to help suppress an uprising. If the Marine General Commanding refuses to follow orders from the President to obey the Chicoms, he's committing mutiny. If he goes to court, he'll lose. The issue has to be decided politically -- in this extreme case, Congress would no doubt step in and cut off funding immediately. But it's not an issue to be decided by a judge. If it was, then the judicial branch would be the C-in-C, not the President.
Judicial restraint always sounds better when it restrains court actions you don't agree with. It's tougher when it stops actions you want.
Ping to the lawyers -- did I get this right?
get a copy of CROSSBORDER WARRIOR & read it. you'll see how Canada, GB & the USA "went out of their way" to assure that foreign nationals serving with allied units did NOT have to swear allegiance to any foreign power.
Thanks for the insight and clarification......but I still say that baby blue is a bad fashion choice for a warrior!
Oh, Yeah!....then there's that "oath" thing......
Yup, you did. I'd add that even if the President agrees to put U.S. troops under the command of a foreign general, he still retains the ultimate authority because he can withdraw them at any time. So we haven't surrended our sovereignity or ultimate control of our troops. We've just put them under the temporary tactical control of someone else, for purposes that presumably serve our interests.
It's a completely legitimate exercise of the powers of the C-in-C, even if some people might disagree with a specific application of those powers.
If it ever comes to that, it is good to know that the majority of the men and women of the United States Armed Forces hold the UN in quite low esteem and will be at our six when needed.
Who appointed this particular judge?
"I solemnly affirm to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as a member of the international service of the United Nations, to discharge those functions and regulate my conduct with the interest of the United Nations only in view, and not to seek or accept instructions in respect to the performance of my duties from any government or other authority external to the organization."
Aside from noting that New was not a Commanding Officer, there's nothing the slightest bit wrong with that oath. A UN Commanding Officer is going to be entrusted with the command of troops from a variety of countries. Because of that, he has to act in accordance with the interests of the United Nations. I don't think we'd be too happy if some French U.N. Commanding Officer took U.S. troops and used them for French purposes without our consent.
Before anyone goes apoplectic about this, there are three huge safeguards to be considered.
First, we're not going to be sending U.N. troops on a mission, or putting a U.S. general in charge with that oath, unless we've already determined that our interests and those of the U.N. are aligned in the specific case at hand. For example, the Korean War was a U.N. military operation with MacArthur in charge. That wasn't a problem because there was no tension between the U.N. resolutions being enforced, and the policy interests of the United States.
Second, if the Commanding Officer ever feels that there is a conflict between his U.N. duties and his oath as a U.S. officer, he simply resigns. No problem.
Third, the President has the right to recall the troops and/or Commanding Officer if he sees a conflict developing between U.N. interests in that particular deployment and U.S. interests. So its not like we're ceding ultimate control of our military to some nefarious evildoers at the U.N.
Part, though not all, of the screw-up's in the Battle of the Bulge were because US forces on the north of the bulge, were phyicscally separated from their US commenders on the south/center/middle of the bulge and "had to be" under the control of Montgomery.
Much of the screw-ups in the Caen attacks after D Day and in Holland air attack (A Bridge Too Far" was because US troops and strategic policies were determined by the Brit's reluctance to attack without a specifically prepared/too great a demand to attack WITH too poor an attack planning.