The Nuremberg trials were supposed to have established that "only following orders" isn't a sufficient defense for war crimes. Since the trials, has there been an example of a soldier who refused to obey an order that would have involved committing war crimes, and was not prosecuted for insubordination (or was prosecuted, but acquitted by a military court on the grounds that the orders were illegal)?
Offhand I can't think of any examples. Wikipedia's article on superior orders does not help:
- Mỹ Lai massacre: Hugh Thompson's crew played a part in stopping the massacre, but they apparently didn't receive orders to shoot, and hence were not disobeying them.
- There were a few Iraq war resisters who refused to be drafted, but it's not the same as refusing an order to engage in a war crime.
There's also this incident I'm aware of: the Incident at Pristina Airport.
The following morning, Sunday 13 June, Clark arrived at Jackson's HQ in Skopje. It was pointed out to Clark that the Russians were isolated and could not be reinforced by air and that Russian support had been a vital part of getting a peace agreement; antagonising them would only be counterproductive. Clark refused to accept this and continued to order that the runway be blocked, claiming to be supported by the NATO Secretary-General. Jackson refused to enforce Clark's orders, reportedly telling him "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you." When again directly ordered to block the runway, Jackson suggested that British tanks and armoured cars would be more suitable, in the knowledge that this would almost certainly be vetoed by the British government. Clark agreed.
Jackson was ready to resign rather than follow Clark's order. The British Ministry of Defence authorised British force commander Richard Dannatt to use 4 Armoured Brigade to isolate the airfield but not to block the runways. James Blunt has been quoted as saying he would rather have faced a court martial than use force against the Russians. Clark's orders were not carried out, and the United States instead placed political pressure on neighbouring states to not allow Russia to use their airspace to ferry in reinforcements. Russia was forced to call off the reinforcements after Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania refused requests by Russia to use their airspace.
But I doubt attacking the Russians would have been a war crime.