There is, of course, a long history of armed forces committing atrocities against civilian populations: massacres, reprisals, ethnic cleansing, pillaging and rape and many examples in history of defeated soldiers being tortured for information or slain without mercy. There is also a long history of civilians collaborating with the army to enable them to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. People who thought “they were just doing their jobs”. It is not possible here to present a comprehensive survey of all of these atrocities but there have been some which have so repelled public opinion that they have influenced military and political thinking about the conduct of war and even thinking about International Law.
“The greatest crimes against humanity are perpetrated by people just doing their jobs…… It was the careerists who made possible the genocides…They were the ones who kept the trains running. They filled out the forms and presided over the property confiscations. They rationed the food while children starved. They manufactured the guns. They ran the prisons. They enforced travel bans, confiscated passports, seized bank accounts and carried out segregation. They enforced the law. They did their jobs.
Chris Hedges, American journalist who worked as a Foreign Correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans.