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BUSINESS ETHICS

ASSIGNMENT I

SUBMITTED BY Syam MBA II - HR Roll No. 35300

Q) In the motion picture A Few Good Men a) According to you what is the core issue? A Few Good Men tells the story of two Marines from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who are charged with the murder of a fellow marine. Tom Cruise plays Lieutenant Kaffee, a smart young lawyer who is charged with defending the two US Marines. These marines are Lance Corporal Dawson and Private First Class Downey both charged with murder of Private First Class William Santiago. The military base is in Guantanamo Bay 300 yards from the Cuban border. Private Santiago was posted in the base as a recruit. He felt that the military life at Guantanamo Bay was not the one he wanted. He had medical problems because of which he couldnt bear the physical rigors of the Marine training program. He had collapsed many a times due to these problems during the training sessions and had been rated as a below average Marine. He was desperately seeking to be transferred from the Guantanamo Bay Military Base to other location for which he had written many letters to senior officials circumventing the chain of command of the base. He had broken the chain of command by writing directly to the NIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) seeking transfer. One fact that comes out is that the dead Private was willing to blow the whistle on his senior in command Lance Corporal Dawson. This was to reveal the illegal fence line shooting that Dawson had undertaken on the Cuban side. The shot had been unanswered and Private First Class William Santiago does not hesitate to reveal this incident in his letters to the NIS. The Commanding officer of the military base, Colonel Jessup hated the fact that Santiago despised the military rules and did not follow the standard military protocols and also was a substandard marine in terms of physical and mental strength. The Commanding officer of the base Senior Colonel Jessup, First Lieutenant Jonathan Kendrick and Private First Class Downey meet to decide the action to be taken to resolve the issue of Private First Class Santiago. It was decided that Private Santiago will be trained like all others and brought up to the task. This was to be done by performing a Code Red on Santiago by Private First Class Downey and Lance Corporal Dawson. A code red treatment is applied to ind ividuals who are not good soldiers, in this case Santiago. When this treatment was performed on Santiago, he was murdered inadvertently. Private First Class Downey and Lance Corporal Dawson were put on trial for the murder of Private First Class William Santiago. An attempt was made to hide the Code Red order by creating false discharge papers for Santiago. The major ethical issues here in the movie are, one is the murder of Private First Class William Santiago by Private First Class Downey and Lance Corporal Dawson while following the

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orders of their Commanding Officer Senior Colonel Jessup and the subsequent cover up of the Code Red performed on private Santiago. The core issue is Did Dawson and Downey do the right thing by following the order? b) Would you agree in the manner in which it was resolved in the motion picture? Aside from being a moral struggle and a tale of redemption, A Few Good Men is, at its very core, an exposition of what it means to be honorable. Before the trial begins, Lieutenant Kaffee negotiates a plea bargain deal with the prosecution amounting to six months in prison for both Dawson and Downey. Dawson, a man completely adherent to his principles, refuses the deal proclaiming, I believe I did my job. I will not dishonor myself, my unit, or the Corps so I can go home in six months. The fact that Dawson and Downey decide to press their luck by going to trial, facing a high chance of conviction and then prison, is a testament to the films statement that honor should be the central creed of each and every person, especially members of the military. As much as it is about honor, A Few Good Men is just as much about bringing justice to individuals who commit wrongs, even those who command authority. Though Senior Colonel Jessep actually ordered the assault which resulted in Santiagos death, he covers up his involvement and more or less condemns Dawson and Downey to an unjust conviction. In the trial, Lieutenant Kaffee attempts to show that Colonel Jessep definitively did give the order, and is therefore responsible for the murder. Lieutenant Kaffee works Colonel Jessep into a fervor, prodding him with questions and asks for the truth of whether Colonel Jessep ordered the assault on Santiago. Colonel Jessep responds with one of the most famous and lasting lines in cinema: You cant handle the truth! Colonel Jessep attempts to maintain his innocence in this legendary line, but in doing so realizes the inevitability of being brought to justice. Colonel Jessep then quickly admits to his involvement in Santiagos death, and he is finally held accountable for his crime. The movie shows that high-ranking individuals are not outside the rule of law, especially those in the military who can hide behind their subordinates. But even though Dawson and Downey were acquitted from the charges of murder and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, they were pronounced guilty as charged for the charge of conduct unbecoming a United States Marine and were sentenced to be discharged dishonorably. The answer to the question as to why they were so charged guilty is very much cut and dried. Even though the military jury of their peers found them not guilty of murder, they still had an obligation to Marine PFC William Santiago. Their commanding officer Senior Colonel Nathan Jessup had issued an unlawful order to commit assault and battery on their comrade. All service members, especially enlisted personnel in
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all branches of the US Armed Forces, have both an obligation and a duty to carry out lawful orders issued by either superior officers or non-commissioned (NCO) officers in the USMC, the US Army and the US Air Force and to carry out lawful orders given by officers or petty officers in the US Navy or US Coast Guard. Unlawful orders issued by superiors can legally be challenged by subordinates, especially if those orders directly jeopardize the health, safety and/or wellbeing of any enlisted person attached to any command/unit/ship/submarine. This can be well understood by the dialogues in the last few minutes of the motion picture when Private First Class Downey asks Lance Corporal Dawson the question of as to why they were being charged guilty, as all they did was follow the orders of senior in command. The answer given by Lance Corporal Dawson is very apt, that they were supposed to fight for people who couldnt f ight for themselves. In essence, PFC Downey and Lance Corporal Dawson had the right to refuse and challenge Colonel Jessup's authority when he gave the order to assault PFC Santiago. All they had to do was to report him to another senior Marine officer who would have had the obligation to look into the matter. Instead, they carried out an unlawful order which resulted in their friend's death.

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