A question in international law:
Some people will doubtless have heard about the case of Lieutenant Ehren Watada: the first American commissioned officer to refuse to serve in Iraq, on the grounds that the war is illegal. He has said, for instance:
This administration used us for rampant violations of time-tested laws banning torture and degradation of prisoners of war. Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration and the rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes.
In some ways, this is the inevitable product of saying that “I was just following orders” is not a legal defence for someone who has committed war crimes. In effect, stripping them of that protection obliges every soldier to contemplate the legality of their own actions. This is especially true for officers, given their special responsibilities under international law, as referenced in the Youmans Claim1 and Zafiro Claim2.
The Fourth Nuremberg Principle, established to try war criminals after the second world war, states that:
The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
The Sixth Principle defines “Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression” as a crime against peace, punishable under international law. The Seventh says that mere “complicity in the commission of a crime against peace” can likewise be punished. Kofi Annan has called the second Iraq war illegal, and there is a legal case to be made that it was “a war of aggression.” At the very least, Lieutenant Watada will be able to make an interesting argument.
Politically, this case will probably just perpetuate the mudslinging war between people on the left who accuse the administration of criminality and those on the right who accuse the left of lacking patriotism and threatening American lives.
Lieutenant Watada’s court martial begins on February 5th, and he could be sentenced to up to six year’s imprisonment, if convicted.
 US v. Mexico (1926) US v. Mexican General Claims Commission: Van Vollenhoven, Presiding Commissioner; Fernandez McGregor, Mexican Commissioner; Nielson, US Commissioner. 4 R.I.A.A. 110
Essentially, Mexico was found to have not exercised due diligence in protecting three American nationals surrounded by a mob. The fact that Mexican soldiers actually fired upon the Americans while “on duty under the immediate supervision and in the presence of commanding officers” was taken to be relevant.
 Great Britain v. US (1925) American and British Claims Arbitration: Nerincx, President; Pound, American Arbitrator; Fitzpatrick, British Arbitrator. 6 R.I.A.A. 160
A privately owned ship with a Chinese crew was being commanded by an American officer. In the arbitration, it was found that in allowing the crew ashore unsupervised, when it could have been anticipated that they would participate in looting, was a violation of international law on the part of the officer.
No doubt, many more cases about the special responsibilities of officers exist. The Wikipedia entry on command responsibility includes a lot more information. American military doctrines and regulations also place special responsibility upon officers. As such, it would seem that people in that position have a special obligation to ask the kind of moral questions that Lieutenant Watada has.