Skip

Supporting our (non-combatant) troops
June 7, 2006 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Lt. Watada refuses to fight in Iraq and Hawai'i weighs in on their native son's statement of conscience (see vid). More discussions on alternet , in Hawai'i and a news conference today at the State Capitol. Watada is not alone.
posted by Surfurrus (40 comments total)

 
This story is still developing. I am trying to find the statements by Watada's father on the news last night. The father - who joined the Peace Corps to avoid the Vietnam war - was so eloquent in support of his son.
posted by Surfurrus at 7:31 PM on June 7, 2006


Hmm, the old 'unlawful order' defense.
Good luck, buddy!
posted by mischief at 7:31 PM on June 7, 2006


Bravo.
posted by mek at 7:35 PM on June 7, 2006


Have fun in the brig.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:38 PM on June 7, 2006


He joined up in June of 2003, 3 months after Iraq was invaded.

He's almost certainly in deep trouble; a "conscientious objector" claim won't stand, and he's going to face a military court martial for refusing a lawful order. It's also been pointed out that he might well be guilty of mutiny, which is a capital offense.

In case anyone would like to see the other side to the story, Michelle Malkin has a lot of material about this. She makes no bones about being partisan, and you may find some of it maddening, but there's a lot of info there you might find useful, such as an explanation of article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, under which Watada might well end up facing a firing squad.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:44 PM on June 7, 2006


Tomorrow this could be important, or it could be gone. But it's interesting as hell for now.

I can't say I support him, because our Army turns to shit if enough people do what he's doing. But I can't say I oppose him, because, hey, he's right.
posted by JWright at 7:46 PM on June 7, 2006


Watada might well end up facing a firing squad

An unlikely proposition, if the current administration wants to preserve whatever fleeting minority remains of public support for the Iraq debacle.
posted by Mr. Six at 7:52 PM on June 7, 2006


Stephen, I'm sure he's aware that what he's doing isn't legal, though of course neither he nor his lawyer are going to prejudice their case by saying so. He's taking the ethical stand. (pace the cries of "Godwin" that this will provoke) which was put forth at Nuremberg as the responsibility of a serving officer -- to refuse such orders, even if to do so means your death. I'd be interested to see if he is willing to stand up to a firing squad.

(As for Malkin, to paraphrase Dear Leader: who cares what she thinks? When she defended the Japanese Internment she lost the ear of every thinking being.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:00 PM on June 7, 2006


"In order to qualify as a conscientious objector, you have to be opposed to war in any form, and he is not. He's just opposed to this war."

Sorry, Lt. Watada, but you don't get to choose what wars you want to fight in (if you want to stay out of the brig, anyway.) You're an officer, so I'm pretty sure at some point your subservience to civilian authority was made pretty clear (no matter how odious that authority may be.) They say go, you go. "Get on that plane and deploy with your unit," is a lawful order. You don't get to decide where that plane lands. The best thing you could do is to do your job and not give or follow any unlawful orders while you're over there.
posted by Cyrano at 8:07 PM on June 7, 2006


I tempted to agree with the comments on Malkin's blog that he's either an idiot or someone with a planned publicity stunt. It's just because he joined up after Iraq was invaded (and not fresh out of school or anything, either). If anything, the current situation is more legal and moral than the original invasion, so I can't see why he didn't object enough to not join the invading army. If his views on the war have changed so significantly since then, let him start explaining what happened to cause this.

On preview: if you read the links, it was already Godwinned.
posted by jacalata at 8:08 PM on June 7, 2006


He joined up in June of 2003, 3 months after Iraq was invaded.

But before the WMD fraud had been fully exposed.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:11 PM on June 7, 2006


Here is the video from the local news last night: http://www.khnl.com/Global/story.asp?S=4998081 The father, who protested the Vietnam war, is quite eloquent.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:15 PM on June 7, 2006


What Mr. Six said. As much as a public execution would get Malkin and her ilk excited, this guy just sounds confused. And he'll do hard time.

My advice? Don't join the military, ever. (Uncle Cheney taught me that one.)
posted by bardic at 8:26 PM on June 7, 2006


On preview: if you read the links, it was already Godwinned.
~~ posted by jacalata

If you believe the links. You would have to know that 'UH Student Mike Chun' is quoting truthfully, wouldn't you?
posted by Surfurrus at 8:29 PM on June 7, 2006


Bravo. Even if it is a publicity stunt, prank or monkey wrench.

Even under legally-contracted pain of death, one always has a choice, and the ability to take a stand.

What if they threw a war and nobody came?
posted by loquacious at 8:30 PM on June 7, 2006


loquacious: my sentiments exactly!

BTW ... the 'Thank You, Lt. Watada' site is back up and has updates on news conference, etc.

.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:41 PM on June 7, 2006


But before the WMD fraud had been fully exposed.

That doesn't make any difference. That issue (if it even is an issue) is between the Congress and the President. Once Congress passed an authorization for the invasion of Iraq under the War Powers act (in October of 2002), it became a legal war as far as officers and enlisted men in the US military were concerned.

And it will remain a legal war until such time as Congress rescinds authorization to fight it.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:41 PM on June 7, 2006


Once Congress passed an authorization for the invasion of Iraq under the War Powers act (in October of 2002), it became a legal war as far as officers and enlisted men in the US military were concerned.

So a war is legal if the government of the country in question deems it legal?
That defense did not hold up at the Nuremberg trial.
The question is not whether the war is legal according to national law, but whether it is legal according to international law.

Not that that's going to make one iota of difference to this case, but still.
posted by spazzm at 8:55 PM on June 7, 2006


Even under legally-contracted pain of death, one always has a choice, and the ability to take a stand.

A couple things:

None of the dozens of people I've met who served in Iraq wanted to go there. Some supported the war, some didn't (although they all supported their mission in it.) No one happily gave up a year of their lives with their families and friends knowing that some of them wouldn't come back. All but a few who managed to have convenient injuries or pregnancies right before the deployment went anyway. If I had a dollar for every time I heard some variation of, "I knew what I was getting into when I signed up..." I'd have, well, $150 bucks or so.

And we often talk around here about the climate created by the Bush administration's casual disregard of the Geneva Conventions. How that leads to Abu Graibs and, allegedly, Hadithas. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. But there's a flipside to the praising of a military officer who doesn't feel bound by the civilian chain of command. Enough of that and you could create a climate where civilian authority is held in such low regard that military officers could decide to issue their own orders. Now, I'm not saying a Seven Days In May is likely, but you know, maybe the administration isn't taking those North Korean nuclear sites as seriously as it should, so...

So a war is legal if the government of the country in question deems it legal?

How many grunts that didn't commit atrocities were convicted of anything an Nurnberg? The leaders, on the other hand...
posted by Cyrano at 9:00 PM on June 7, 2006


"international law?" what's that?

oh wait--I think I remember... it's that little pretext we always claim we're going to war to defend.

(BTW, hi there, den Beaste--nice to see you again, sweetie!)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:01 PM on June 7, 2006


I think Cyrano's got it mostly right, though, from a high-level, strategic standpoint. Still, every human being is ultimately bound by his or her conscience above any man-made law. It's a facet of what the framer's knew as "Natural Law."
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:04 PM on June 7, 2006


Once Congress passed an authorization for the invasion of Iraq under the War Powers act (in October of 2002), it became a legal war as far as officers and enlisted men in the US military were concerned.

Strictly speaking, the authorization was passed under the War Powers Resolution, not the War Powers Act. And in any case, the resolution was signed under false pretexts, not to mention that Iraq poses no reasonable threat to any aspect of US national security at this juncture, despite promises of falsified WMDs that were (oops) never there. It's an illegal war, and certainly its indefinite continuation is in violation of the spirit if not word of the original resolution, but the judicial and legislative branches of government are too cowardly to challenge the President.
posted by Mr. Six at 9:05 PM on June 7, 2006


Despicable. He joined the military AFTER 9/11, AFTER Operation Enduring Freedom, AFTER Operation Iraqi Freedom...he took the Oath knowing that he was joining a wartime military, heavily engaged in combat and peace-keeping operations around the world, and he enjoyed all of the benefits of being a military officer: pay, healthcare, 30-days leave; not to mention the training, the camaraderie, the honor of leadership.

But now, when it's his turn to go "over there," he suddenly decides that this is not the "right" war for him to support?

Sorry, LT, but you cashed that check long ago. Time to pay.
posted by davidmsc at 9:10 PM on June 7, 2006


Still, every human being is ultimately bound by his or her conscience above any man-made law.

I agree totally. I'm just urging caution with the praise. I don't have any reason to believe Lt. Watada isn't sincere in his beliefs. But the convenient pregnancies I mentioned in my previous comment? There was a woman in my brother's unit who had two kids already, who the unit nicknamed "Kuwait" and "Kosovo." The kid she was pregnant with when they left was, of course, going to be dubbed "Iraq."

There are some people who have firmly held beliefs, and there are some people who will do anything they can do get out of doing something they don't want to do for less altruistic reasons. I believe Lt. Watada. I don't fully agree and certainly don't want to see him in front of a firing squad. But I still stand by my previous statement that the best thing he could do is to go over there and make himself into an example of how an U.S. military officer is supposed to act.
posted by Cyrano at 9:15 PM on June 7, 2006


how an U.S. military officer is supposed to act.

Presumably some sort of rational decision-making agent? Mhm. Perhaps the USA should think about how they want their military officers to act. If they all were as smart as Lt. Watada they'd be saving us a lot of funding, saving American and Iraqi lives, and preserving our international reputation. The do-as-you're-told military has failed on every count.
posted by mek at 9:44 PM on June 7, 2006


Just had to say, Sufurrus, that I don't have to agree with a reference to Hitler for it to qualify as Godwin. It just has to be made.
posted by jacalata at 9:55 PM on June 7, 2006


cyrano: i can't even say how much i agree with you. i just keeping thinking what a shame it is that so many among our civilian leadership and the public in general can't really bring themselves to imagine the extent of the personal sacrifice that military men and women volunteer to make as a matter of course to become the kinds of soldiers we rely on them to be--even worse, so many don't really seem to understand the enormous responsibility we as americans have not to betray the unselfish spirit of those sacrifices by tolerating irresponsible, ill-conceived or unethical uses of military force. if anything, the american people have failed the military--not the other way around. but it's a complicated problem; we've all been misled. i sincerely hope that in the very near future, there will be a time when our society carefully examines without any self-deception, political obfuscation, or sentimentality exactly how we arrived where we are today, so we can ensure that it never happens again.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 10:03 PM on June 7, 2006


"I was only following orders" is not acceptable as a defense against war crimes; we tried and convicted Nazi soldiers who used that defense after WW2.

So on the one hand, he can't legally refuse the order. But, if this war is illegal (and it certainly looks that way to me), he can't go, either, and fulfill his oath.

He can be held responsible for following illegal orders... but he will also be held responsible for failing to follow them.

Nasty situation.
posted by Malor at 10:08 PM on June 7, 2006


Assuming this is all in earnest of course...

Dishonorable.
I wouldn't say despicable, since that means morally reprehensible.
But something can be dishonorable yet ethical or compassionate. I have to go with Cyrano and all-seeing eye dog (et. al) the guy has to live with himself.

I have no sympathy for people who desert. But if he's willing to take the hit, that'd be one sign he's not doing it because he's a coward. And, in his way, he is supporting his brothers in arms.

Doesn't mean anyone has to like it or agree with it. But he's got the courage of his convictions. I'll give him that.
And as it so happens his convictions are looking more and more ethically correct. There comes a point when one's leaders (civilian government or not) are not worthy of being served.
Has that point been reached? I really don't know.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:09 PM on June 7, 2006


Perhaps the USA should think about how they want their military officers to act. If they all were as smart as Lt. Watada they'd be saving us a lot of funding, saving American and Iraqi lives, and preserving our international reputation. The do-as-you're-told military has failed on every count.

I want the officers and enlisted men to go where their civilian commanders tell them to go, and to disobey any illegal orders their military or civilian leaders give them when they get there. Charging a building full of insurgents (and maybe civilians, who a vast majority of the time I'm sure U.S. troops don't want to shoot accidentally or intentionally,) with RPG's and machine guns is not a rational act. You and I aren't even speaking the same language as the people over there.

He's not smart; he's leaving at least a platoon of other soldiers short one officer on the eve of their deployment to a place where they will almost certainly get shot at. I've got a gut problem with that.

if anything, the american people have failed the military

That probably expresses the gist of my point better than I have.

And as it so happens his convictions are looking more and more ethically correct. There comes a point when one's leaders (civilian government or not) are not worthy of being served.

Again, better expressed than I have been able to. But we get the chance to basically turn the whole system over every two years, with a big shake-up possible ever four. Yet it didn't happen. Hate to burst the bubble, but it probably won't happen later this year either.

Fear. Not fear of terrorists, but fear of being (and admitting that you were) wrong. That's what's going to drive us into to the ditch.
posted by Cyrano at 10:23 PM on June 7, 2006


If he had joined after 9/11 when the Taliban/Osama were the only targets and was now upset about Shrub using the excuse to go after Iraq... but this just reeks of a guy that joined up and now wants to back out when he realizes he actually has to go into a dangerous situation.

He'll either shut up and go or he will sit in jail. They are not going to put the dipshit up in front of a firing squad, it would be disasterous in light of how pissed people are with the administration and miltary over the clusterfuck that is this war.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:50 PM on June 7, 2006


Just had to say, Sufurrus, that I don't have to agree with a reference to Hitler for it to qualify as Godwin. It just has to be made

....and I was asking, jacalata why do you even believe the reference was made? The (alleged) reference was on a twice removed link that ended up in a quote by a 'student' who supposedly was quoting Watada, Sr. In other words, it could well have been 'planted' to provoke a response such as yours? This was from Malkin's blog afterall. ( and ... I never said you 'agreed with the reference' -- just that you reacted to it.)
posted by Surfurrus at 10:52 PM on June 7, 2006


but this just reeks of a guy that joined up and now wants to back out when he realizes he actually has to go into a dangerous situation.

That doesn't make sense. Who wouldn't go to Iraq for seven months instead of Leavenworth for ten years? The vast majority of servicemen and women serving in Iraq don't get killed, and he knows that. If he went to Iraq the overwhelming likelihood is that he'd serve his time and go on to have a fine career. Now he gets to spend the next decade in a cement room with a stainless steel toilet and a three inch thick mattress for company, and when he gets out he gets to pump gas for the rest of his life -- if there's any left in ten years.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:03 PM on June 7, 2006


Godwin is so 20th century, and it was bullshit then too.
Give it up already.
posted by mischief at 11:14 PM on June 7, 2006


This is the exact situation that happened when Ron Stephens, the Pharmacist from a small town in Illinois refused to sell the morning after pill to a woman when she presented to him a doctor signed prescription. The governor of Illinois signed into a law an executive order that require all the pharmacist to fill a signed prescription of the Morning after Pill. Stephens indicated that was “his choice" (Wow, this guy is... Pro Choice!) "to practice his religious belief". The governor indicated that if his conscience does not permit him to be a pharmacist, he needs to be looking for another profession.
That is why: If a military person for any reason believe that going to war with any other nation is against “His Choice” or “His or her religious belief, he should be let out of the military and permit him to go to work in another area of his choice.
posted by CRESTA at 11:31 PM on June 7, 2006


Salute, buddy.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:40 PM on June 7, 2006


In the world we live in, honor, duty, conscience and courage have become less watchwords that we try to live by than sticks with which we bludgeon one another.

Maybe it was always this way. It doesn't feel like it, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:45 PM on June 7, 2006


he took the Oath knowing that he was joining a wartime military

The Oath:
I (insert name), having been appointed a (insert rank) in the U.S. Army under the conditions indicated in this document, do accept such appointment and do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.
If he sincerly believes that the duties of the office include not following illegal orders, and he sincerly belives that the orders he was given were illegal, he isn't violating his oath as a commissioned officer of the United States Army. Indeed, he's upholding his oath, at all costs.

Heck, I'll give him credit for "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Emphasis mine, of course.

Note he doesn't swear to uphold the Command in Chief, the President, or King George. He swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Having said that, he's going to do hard time, and then be dishonorably discharged as a E-1, with all pay and benifits forfeit.
posted by eriko at 4:35 AM on June 8, 2006


Joshua Key has nightmares. Scroll down.
posted by adamvasco at 5:16 AM on June 8, 2006


"Prompted by a Fort Lewis Army officer's decision to refuse to fight in Iraq, the First United Methodist Church of Tacoma has declared itself a sanctuary for servicemen and servicewomen who also don't want to go to Iraq.

The 300-member congregation's administrative council voted last weekend to open its doors beginning this Saturday after 1st Lt. Ehren Watada announced that he thinks the war in Iraq is illegal and that he has sought to resign his commission.

A statement from the church on Wednesday said that service members "who are unable to deploy to combat areas for reasons of conscience" can find protection behind its doors.

"Our initiative was because of Lieutenant Watada's gesture and a clear sense that we have, as a reconciling congregation, deeply involved in justice issues throughout the city, that any war, particularly this one, is inconsistent with Christian teachings," the Rev. Monty Smith said Wednesday night."

More
posted by Feisty at 10:24 AM on June 15, 2006


« Older Pimp My Killing Machine   |   Gay marriage Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post