The Moral Power of a Military:
Military — By Joe Carter on December 2, 2004 at 12:22 am
Torture, Virtue Ethics, and the German Army
The German press is reporting that twenty noncommissioned officers and one captain of the German army are being investigated for using violent training tactics that included electric shocks, physical abuse and psychological intimidation on around 80 recruits between June and September:
Spiegel newsmagazine reported Monday that in four instances on the training grounds in Coesfeld, a small town in northern Germany, the officers dressed themselves up as Arabs, ambushed the recruits during a night march, bound and hooded them and then transported them in trucks to a basement in the barracks.
There the recruits were forced to kneel against the wall, where they were roughed up and drenched with cold water. At least two of the victims received electric shocks in the throat, groin and stomach area from a loud-speaker cable, according to Spiegel.
While any reports of such abuse are disturbing, I find it particularly troubling that the event occurred during initial training, a period when professionalism and soldierly virtue are inculcated in the impressionable recruits. Military units are hermetically sealed cultures that, when at their best, have a moral core that is comprised of a unique blend of deontological and virtue ethics. Although the deontological side, with its emphasis on regulations and discipline, is the most commonly associated with the military, it is the honing of virtue ethics that creates a moral institution.
By cultivating specific virtues such as courage, discipline, and honor, a military shores up the natural moral law which lies in the hearts of its members. But hazing ‘