Letter: Ethical codes under pressure on the battlefield

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Sir: I agree with your leading article 'Civilised standards in wartime' (29 January). The Falklands war was not a crusade: but neither was it an outlet for serial killers. It was a dispute about territory, in which the Argentines moved from the diplomatic arena to armed conflict to achieve their aims. It was a contest between two opposing sides in which killing and wounding were allowed, subject to an ethical code. Part of that code, subscribed to by the UK, was the Geneva Convention on the humane treatment of prisoners.

All callings must have ethical codes; the more violent the activity, the stricter the code needed. When armed forces observe the ethical code of their calling, their profession is an honourable one.

If the code is frequently flouted, we risk having nothing but the uncontrolled licentiousness of a brutal and insolent soldiery.



(Former prisoner of war)


30 January