How far would you go?

I never had to choose between fighting in an insane war or going absent without leave. Vietnam was winding down when I got into the Navy - and except for officers like John Kerry who served on Swift boats, the duty on ships wasn't all that hazardous. But I often wondered what I would have done if I had been forced into combat.

The truth is, I might very well have done what Ehren Watada did last year as a first lieutenant in the US Army.

At the center of the dispute between the judge and the defense is Watada’s intent when he did not deploy with his unit to Iraq. The defense has consistently tried to call into question the legality of the war, because Watada said the war is illegal and a command to fight in Iraq is also illegal. But the judge has said the argument over the legality of the war is not a matter that can be settled in military court.

Whether Bush's war is legal or not, it is unethical and a blight on our nation. I completely support Watada's refusal to fight. And to those out in right wing land who call him a coward, I say the coward is the chickenshit in the White House who went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard - and got to be president as a reward.

It's almost enough to make you wish for a military coup. But not quite.



As an officer, you have a duty to protest actions that would violate geneva convention etc. In practice this doesnt always occur, but it "should". Anyway, is there any way to justify refusing to take part under the obligation to refuse to obey an unlawful order?

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Mistrial today

Last I read the trial might not be taken back up until summer.

I support Watada too. It took a great deal of courage to stand up for what was right and legal since his training is to follow orders.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

This isn't going to be popular.

I fully support Watada's opinion that the war is immoral and unethical and I respect his right to protest but his decision to avoid deployment was wrong.

The decision was also based on faulty logic. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is many things (immoral, unethical and dishonest come to mind) but it is not illegal. Congress authorized the use of military force in Iraq. Even though that authorization was based on manipulated intelligence, until Congress rescinds the authorization of military force the occupation is legal.

If Watada didn't want to fight, and that's a perfectly respectable desire, he should've done the procedurally correct thing and declared himself a conscientious objector. Unfortunately, this would've required him to carry out his deployment orders. Most likely, however, he would be assigned to a non-combat duty while the Army reviews and adjudicates his request. Also most likely is that the Army would grant Watada the designation of conscientious objector and discharged him from military service.

Watada's decision to avoid deployment was short-sighted and selfish. There were legal ways to accomplish the same purpose and he ignored them.

Thomas S. Brock


What have YOU done today to make the world a better place?

I'd have to look it up, but

I know there was the case of a person who did exactly what you suggested, they said they would hear his case AFTER he got back from Iraq. Combat duty.
Where are the candidates?

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I only know the Marine Corps Process...

and have admittedly less knowledge of the Army's. The process would be similar and if it's the case that the conscientious objector request was being stalled there are other forms of appeal that can be made.

My point is that there are processes built into military administrative procedures to formally protest immoral/unethical orders. Watada did not follow those processes.

Thomas S. Brock


What have YOU done today to make the world a better place?

I'm torn between

living up to your responsibility, and knowing when the responsibility goes against the oath you took.

Where are the candidates?

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

As most here know

The UCMJ covers all branches and his CO should have shuttled his ass over to JAG when he first became aware of the Lt's decision that he would not deploy to Iraq based on his personal belief that the war is immoral/illegal. Not that this in ANY way compares, but when my troops got into trouble, the first thing I told them in counseling was to contact the judge advocate and get the legal help you need now not when it's too late (these issues were typically for substance abuse, DUI's etc, like I said they don't really compare, but it's my only experience)

I agree with your sentiments, Thomas

but, like Robert, I don't have much confidence in the "legal" ways to challenge the imperial presidency we're suffering through. This is all politics, pure and simple, and military decisions are no exception. The entire OLF scam is just one more piece of evidence that military leaders value political expediency over the welfare of the men and women on the front lines.

And I don't disagree...

with either of you.

That Watada felt he had no other recourse is wrong, however. There were administrative processes available to defer the deployment. Watada did not give "the system" the opportunity to succeed.

Do I think Watada is a coward? No.
Do I think Watada is dishonorable? No.
Do I support Watada's opposition to the occupation of Iraq? Absolutely, unequivocally yes.

But, you've also got to look at the legality of his actions.

Did Watada violate the UCMJ by missing a movement? Yes.
Did Watada violate the UCMJ by going Absent without Leave? Yes.

Thomas S. Brock


What have YOU done today to make the world a better place?

I agree with you

Although this war is all that you mentioned, the fact that the rubber stampers actually gave Resident Bush the green light to attack Iraq, that does make it a legal war. I would say if I were still in the NG, I would deploy if ordered to do so. As some of you here have heard my disdain for the ass-clown in chief, my first duty is to my country. There is a reason that when you're sworn in, you take your oath to the Constitution and not the President or Congress. That is what the righties just do not get (because I believe at the heart of every neo-con is a desire to do away with the Constitution entirely) is that the oath is not to their Dear Leader.

So that's my two cents worth. Although I guess I'm an armchair warrior now and that makes what I would or would not do, irrelevant.

Re: Question

While it may be argued that a soldier's responsibility is to blindly follow orders, Watada's decision to protest the orders he received restored my confidence in our military. While it is an officer's duty to follow orders, he/she has to determine if the orders are legal.

Now I said, restored, because after Abu Grahib I was shaken that soldiers thought it was legal what they had done to the Iraqi prisoners, and was taken aback. I never waned in my support of the troops but my trust in their ability to discern the legality of their actions had waned.

No matter what, Watada is only one man of many men and women, but his actions should be considered admirable because he is risking his freedom on his convictions.

Yesterday, Rep. Charles Rangel

intoduced the "Universal National Service Act of 2007", H.R. 393. An Article Synopsis and Commentary at the John Birch Society.

No one gives this much of a chance, but do you think it could help start a national discussion, a REAL discussion on this war?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions My Blog at The Pilot online

Too bad

it doesn't have much of a chance. If anyone really wants to stop this war they should fully totally and unequivocally support Rangel's bill. I have two draft age children and a whole donkey cart load of nieces and nephews. I totally support it.

Yes, it hurts my heart to think of it, so why support it?

Because a law that requires national service will end this war and US envolvement in future wars of choice. It will return this nation to it's honor -- it's roots -- to the America that we thought we were -- a country that returns the fires of hell when we need to, but we only need to AFTER we've been fired upon. Until then, we talk to our enemies and use diplomacy like our lives depended on being successful at the diplomatic tables because, in fact, they do.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

I have a draft age child as well

I understand your reasoning, Leslie. I don't know if I can put my voice with yours, though. It scares the mess out of me.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Here is my fear

The rich and privileged will always find a way out of service.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

They always have, and they always will.

There will always be some with honor, who when called will serve, or who will volunteer. But there will always be the priveledged sons and daughters who avoid service, or who find ways to do their service in a relatively safe way, while those less fortunate, with no one to speak for them, will be the first to be put in harm's way.

At least it would put an end to the endlessly annoying advertisements aimed at convincing parents that your children really want to be in the military, if only you'd let them sign up. Or would it?

My dear son was called by a marine recruiter last week. I believe the language that he was treated to made the poor young man on the other end of the phone blush. They are not supposed to be calling us. I've complained and put them on our Do Not Call list. I wonder what the attorney general's office would do if I filed a complaint?

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

I agree

totally ... the wealthy and priviledged will always find a way out of service. They always have.

But I don't honestly think the lack of outrage across the American populace over Iraq (or the very slow-motion evolution of our distain for it) has much to do with the wealthy not serving. I think it has more to do with most of us, the middle class, whose children don't serve and do not even consider that that national service might be in their future; as a possibility or opportunity, or as a responsibility or duty.

Here's my thinking on it ... How many more people (people like us and like the Republican IT guy or the Democratic local attorney) who be in the street protesting this war, writing letters of protest about this war, mad as wet cats about this war, if we knew all our children had to serve? Sure, the wealthy children would be taking all the places in america corps and the peace corps (and I don't think that's really a bad thing -- exposing them to a reality they otherwise would never see) but with required national service, most of America's young people would be exposed to possible combat duty as everyone's responsibililty. I'm thinking that would have a huge negative effect on apathy and it would translate to a whole lot more anti-Iraq war activists from the average Joe and Jane classes than we see today.

Of course, its all just my opion and I could be way off but that's why I support a national service law.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

It's a valid point

And I agree with you, too. But I'm honestly not sure I have the courage to advocate for it, lest it become a reality and my only child suddenly wind up with a rifle in his hand instead of his guitar. So in theory, I'm with you. In practice, if it were me, I'd be willing to advocate for it, and take my chances. I'm not willing with my child. I'm just not.

I don't need that incentive to march, to write letters, to be mad as a wet cat, etc. And you don't either - that's one of the reasons you and I are both here.

I do see your point.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Immoral or Illegal?

Whether immoral or illegal (or both), I can't help but admire someone who stands on conviction, even/especially when it means accepting the consequences of one's actions. When Henry David Thoreau was thrown into jail for refusing to pay taxes to a government that supported slavery and waged what he believed was an immoral war on Mexico, his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson went to visit him. "Henry David," said Emerson, "what are you doing in there?" Thoreau looked at him and replied, "Ralph Waldo, what are you doing out there?"

Dharma Pup

Just a note

My brother was in the Navy during the height of Viet. He was station in the Med. and felt he was in no danger. Then the Israels tried blow up his ship. No place is really safe in the armed forces.

I admire him for taking a stand

I'm not sure that I would have taken the same route that he did, so I can't answer how far I'd go in this situation. I am obviously not military material.

But would I go to jail for my principles? Yes, I'd like to think that I would, especially now that my son is nearly grown and would be able to care for himself.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi