Training on the Law of armed conflict (LOAC) employs different rationales to motivate soldiers and to induce their compliance with LOAC rules. Of these, none is as controversial, or as potentially contradictory, as the Golden Rule. This article analyzes the role of the Golden Rule in historical and contemporary LOAC training material, including manuals, pamphlets, circulars, and films. Research findings suggest that the Golden Rule message corresponds with changes in military training and doctrine that emerged as a result of Vietnam War violations. Furthermore, the Golden Rule is conceptually dynamic, having both positive and negative formulations that are tied to the larger concept of reciprocity. This article concludes with a discussion of possible contradictory interpretations of the Golden Rule and prospects for future research. Since this is the first systematic examination of the Golden Rule in LOAC training material, the author hopes that it will provide a foundation for further dialogue and research.
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