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60 Geo. L. J. 605 (1971-1972)
Law of War, Command Responsibility and Vietnam, The

handle is hein.journals/glj60 and id is 613 raw text is: THE LAW OF WAR, COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY
AND VIETNAM
WILLiAM V. O'BRiEN*
In recent months, the military trials of Lieutenant William F.
Calley, Captain Ernest F. Medina, and Colonel Oran K. Henderson
have brought to light the numerous and difficult questions sur-
rounding the concept of command responsibility in modern 'war-
fare. Dr. O'Brien, in attempting to resolve some of these compli-
cated command questions, carefully examines the modern theory
of the law of 'war, and focuses upon its application to the activities
of United States military commanders in the Vietnam War. Dr.
O'Brien concludes that command guidelines and regulations must
be carefully delineated and properly enforced in order to reduce
the future potential for atrocities such as those perpetrated at
Mylai.
The ineradicable facts surrounding the Mylai Massacre have been
established.' Their implications in terms of the law of war, command
responsibility, and the record of the United States in the Vietnam War
remain controverted and unsettled. Early hopes that th  allegations
might not be entirely true have long since disappeared, Aliost. equally,
hopes that mitigating circumstances would explain the actions taken at
Mylai 4 on March 16, 1968 have proven fruitless. It seems: highly
unlikely that responsible commentators will reject the finding of the jury
in the Calley case, a jury composed of six veteran officers, that neither
combat fatigue, misperceptions of the situation, nor illegal superior orders
explain or justify the behavior of the First Platoon, Company C, First
Battalion, 20th Infantry, Americal Division.
Obviously, the conviction of Lieutenant William L. Calley and the
disposition of the trials of others implicated in the Mylai Massacre do -int
close the matter. The attack on Mylai 4 by Call ey's .company was an
SB.S.FSS., M.S.F.S., PhD., Georgetown University. Professor of Government,'George-
town University; Chairman, The Institute of World Polity.
1See R. HAMMER, THE COuiRT-MARTAL OF LT. CAIAY (1971); R. HAMMER, ONE
MoRNING IN Tm WAR-TnE TRAGEDY OF SoN My (PixxrvnuE) (1970); S. HERSH, My
LAI 4-A RFPORT ON Tm MAssAcRE AD rrs Ari'mumvrl (1970); U.S. DEP'T OF THE
ARMY, REPORT ON PRELIMINARY INvEsTI ATION INTO THE My LAI INCIDENT '(1970) (the
Peers Report); U.S. Dep't of the Army, Statement on the Son My Incident (Apr. 2,
1971).
2Colonel Robert B. Nelson, a juror in the Medina trial, told newsmen that the
verdict in that case did not mean that the jury believed that no war crimes were
committed at Mylai: I am certain war crimes were committed... . [Washington]
Evening Star, Sept. 23, 1971, § A, at 2, cols. 1-3.
[6051

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