Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Courage to Stand Up

“I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. My oath of office is to protect and defend America’s laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath today.” - U.S. Army First Lt. Ehren Watada (click the image to view Lt. Watada's video statement) Today, June 27th, is the National Day of Action for Lt. Ehren Watada. Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq due to his disagreement with the War in Iraq. According to his statement, Lt. Watada enlisted in 2003, believing that it was his obligation to help his country fight a war against foreign powers who possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. However, since 2003, based on Lt. Watada's own research and news from the White House detailing the faulty intelligence surrounding this war, Lt. Watada now feels the war is "not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law. " Lt. Watada has attempted to resign his commission, but was refused this request. He reported to his base, as ordered, but refused deployment. Lt. Watada has been restricted to base, without charge, and cannot speak with any non-military personnel. He faces possible court-martial, dishonourable discharge and two years imprisonment. It is absolutely crucial that we speak out for Lt. Watada and other military personnel who do not wish to participate in a war they find morally and legally wrong. What good is "free speech" if we are willing to persecute those we don't want to hear from? Today, you can participate in a number of events around the country, in support of Lt. Watada. However, if you are not living in or near one of the cities, you can also take action by signing Lt. Watada's petition or donating to Lt. Watada's defense fund. You can also help by spreading the word about today's Day of Action by blogging about the war in Iraq and the courage of Lt. Watada and other officers like him. Hat-tip: Hyphen Blog


Anonymous Mac said...

The Lt. should've done his research before joining the Army. He can't say that there wasn't plenty of people and evidence saying Iraq didn't have what they percieved to be WMDs. He went into a job blind, signed a contract and now wants to break it. I can't feel for him.

6/27/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he wasn't drafted. while its unfortunate that he disagrees with the premise of the war now, joining the armed services is no guaruntee that you will always believe in the same cause as your commander in chief.

6/27/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

While it's true that he wasn't drafted, I don't think he should not be allowed to claim conscientious objection to a specific war, especially given that the administration has, itself, been shown to have been wrong on this war.

Why should someone be allowed to refuse deployment if they object to ALL wars but not if they object to a specific war? We are essentially asking this man to give his life to a cause he doesn't agree with. Considering how Bush duped America, I think it's fair to let this man refuse deployment, as a direct consequence of the fact that he WAS duped.

And while it seems obvious to those who were already disagreeing with the war that Bush was lying, there were many people who believed Bush. Why should those people now have to pay for Bush's transgressions? Why are they expected to know better than the president of the U.S.?

6/27/2006 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

entering the armed forces is not something to do lightly. its a serious commitment and the men and women that do so need to fundamentally understand all the possibilities and consequences that await them. one of those consequences is that one day you may be asked to serve a president or a war with which you don't agree. i'm not saying i disagree with the soldier's decision to object, i just don't believe he should be heralded as a hero. and i certainly don't think he should be asking the american public to fund his defense.

6/27/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Mac said...

Which goes back to my post that he should have done his research before he joined up. It seems (to me) that he got caught up in the war hype and signed up. Then relized that the hype wasn't all it was cracked up to be and now wants out. But it doesn't work that way. The Army spent tens of thousands of dollars on him, they're not going to just let him walk away.

"We are essentially asking this man to give his life to a cause he doesn't agree with."
No we're not. He volunteered to give his life to that cause when enlisted.

The unit he's assigned to have taken a lot of hits and I can understand him not wanting to go and possibly get killed. But these are the questions he should've been asking himself before he raised his hand and swore that oath and before he signed that contract.

What he should've done was asked to be reassigned to medical unit that way he wouldn't have to carry a weapon and he could've helped more then hurt. Finished his enlistment then got out.

6/28/2006 12:23:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

He may have gotten caught up in the war hype, but it's kind of like if someone recruits you for a job, lying to you about the job description.

In the professional world, if we're forced to do anything that goes against our moral codes, we have the option to quit or lodge a formal complaint, but, for example, our supervisors cannot demand sexual favours from us as part of our employment (uhm, unless we're imployed as prostitutes to pimps). To me, I think officers should have the same ability to refuse deployment.

I don't think it has to do with a fear of being killed -- after all, when he first enlisted, he enlisted to fight the war in Iraq, knowing that he would be deployed there. I honestly think he and officers like him are concerned about being lied to and being forced to fight a war they find is morally and legally unjust.

I have elucidated above why I think protecting the ability of Americans to act according to their own moral code, but I also think we have to consider the legal ramifications. Consider if this war is eventually found to be illegal and America faces a war crimes tribunal (as Nazi soldiers did). Many were asked why they did not object to committing the atrocities of the Holocaust. As a commanding officer, Lt. Watada would be subject to prosecution. In this hypothetical, he disagrees with the war, thinks it is illegal, and is forced to go fight it. Then, he is prosecuted for not objecting to the war later on, when he basically can't. Is that a fair system?

And again, I wonder why Lt. Watada is being held to a higher standard than Bush -- how was Watada to know that there were no WMD when Bush, the leader of this country, swore that there was? What research could Watada have done short of infiltrating the country himself?

Also, I think reassignment to the medical unit would still involve participating in a war he objects to. And he was denied a chance to resign -- I'm not sure if he tried asking for reassignment.

Ultimately, I still don't understand why conscientious objector status is awarded to those who enlist but object to all wars, but you can't award it to those who object to a specific war.

6/28/2006 01:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if there wasn't the extreme code of conduct and oath of allegiance in the army there would be literally tens of thousands of unprepared and uncommitted members of the armed forces. people would join it on a whim, knowing that when shit got tough, they could 'conscientously object' and get the hell out of there. (of course this is not to say this is what LT is doing, just that i can see the opportunistic nature of people and this could very well happen on a grand scale). this would not only compromise national security, but could, if there's a big enough problem with desertion, lead to the reinstatement of the draft.

6/28/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

what would be the benefit of enlisting if you planned on bailing when a war started? and i'm not sure i see how that circumstance (people bailing when shit gets tough) any different from the current ability to file for concientious objector status?

to me, if the system works now for those who can demonstrate a concientious objection to all wars, i don't understand why you can't extend it to extend to those who object to a specific war.

and, i dunno, while I see your point, anonymous, I can understand why the army would feel it necessary to maintain the strictness to prevent mass desertion. But people desert anyways -- it's not like the military is a jail. That's why I trust that the military is discerning in its enlistment practices and that our responsibility as a people is to deploy them only in a war that is ideologically defensible.

6/28/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Bhodi Li said...

Hi Jenn, it's been a long time. I'm love your blog and have been enjoying your discussion on Watada. Not surprisingly, I don't concur with your sentiments, nevertheless it's great hearing what you have to say. Keep it up.

-Bhodi (Mike)

6/29/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Bhodi Li said...

Oh, also there's an interesting thread on Watada on YW as well. Not sure if you still go there very often.

6/29/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

omg! it's bhodi li!!!! i've totally missed our chats on IM!!!

i haven't been back to YW in awhile, things just got so crazy that I stopped checking it and now... well... :)

6/29/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous fa_ikaika said...

in response to some of the earlier comments, I believe these folks have missed a central issue in Lt. Watada's refusal to go to Iraq. As a part of one's training, military personnel are under an OBLIGATION to refuse to follow orders that they believe to be illegal.

Lt. Watada believes the orders he is being given to go to Iraq to be in violation of (at the very least) international law and quite possibly US law as well.

Before military personnel rush to the familiar tropes of unit loyalty and duty to the Commander in Chief, they ought to reflect upon the stance taken by the US at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. At these trials, Nazi officers were prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity even though they argued that they were merely "doing their duty". At the time (and to this day) it is an article of faith in the LEGAL training of US forces that this standard of behavior is incumbent upon US military personnel as well.

That the majority (perhaps) of currently-serving military personnel have chosen to emphasize the more chain of command-friendly issue of loyalty and duty does not neccessarily make their attitudes more "right" than Lt. Watada's.

6/30/2006 10:37:00 PM  

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