Triage, Treatment, and Torture: Ethical Challenges for US Military Medicine in Iraq

Christian Enemark

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13 Citations (SciVal)


This article assesses some of the ethical challenges faced by US medical professionals seeking to preserve health and lives in the context of the Iraq War. The nature of the relationship between medicine and the military is tested in two areas at opposite ends of the care-giving spectrum. First, in the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers and civilians in Iraq, tough decisions are required on who receives what treatment and when. Second, when medical
professionals participate in harmful interrogations, there is a need to decide between medical duties and military imperatives. The ethical principles considered throughout the article include the Hippocratic maxim ‘first, do no harm’, impartiality in the provision of humanitarian assistance, and pursuit of a greater good. The author concludes that the military objectives and medical care-giving requirements of the Iraq War are mismatched, and that medical professionals who participate in interrogations are not entitled to protected status under the Geneva Conventions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-201
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Military Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2008


  • Iraq War
  • medical ethics
  • military medicine
  • triage
  • interrogation


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