Key Issue Essay: Hamlets And My Lai Massacre

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Key issue essay In 1968 on the 9th of March US soldiers from ‘c’ company entered hamlets in Quang Ngai on a search and destroy mission. The hamlets and My Lai were known as the Vietcong territory(Vietnamese army). US soldiers lost all control and killed 300-400 civilians including; men, women and children. 70 of these civilians were mown down with automatic fire once herded into a ditch. Over a year the US army covered up their massacre and 13 soldiers were charged with war crimes against humanity. Lieutenant William Calley was convicted as his platoon had killed 200 of the victims. He was given 10 years imprisonment but however only served 3 and received parole in 1974. He then settled down and had a quiet life as a shopkeeper in Georgia. During the attack the US army had no real opposition. Only one American soldier was killed; in addition to this another 6 of the soldiers were injured by mines and traps. Seventy to eighty percent of the victims were personally killed by Calley as he had took the weapon from soldiers who had refused to carry on with the killings and killed 2 groups of civilians. Calley just said ‘he was just following orders’ and another soldier mentioned that most of the US…show more content…
As agency theory states it shows the solders were acting primarily as an agent of the authority figure (Lieutenant William Calley) and secondarily as an individual. Therefore all the US soldiers are in the agentic state; giving up their conscious and free will. Consequently they found it difficult to refuse the orders of the authority figure and killed civilians as it was an order; and they didn’t feel responsible. Calley also claimed that he was following orders and was in the agentic state to the person above him in authority. Supporting evidence for agency theory is Milgrams experiment on obedience; this shows that people are highly obedient and will follow orders from the authority

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