A LONE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE
This week at Fort Lewis First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is being court martialed for refusing to go to Iraq to serve in the military. This is an act of conscience for he is not a concientious objector for he is willing to serve elsewhere. including Afghanistan. Until this decision he was considered and exemplary soldier. He tried to accomadate the military by offering to resign. This was refused. He even offered to serve six months in jail for refusing to go to Iraq. This was turned down. Apparently, the military want to make an example of him. He is facing, if convicted, four years in jail.
Watada is refusing on the grounds that the war is illegal and for him to serve would be to participate in war crimes. "Citing international law and the U.S. Constitution, he points out that the Iraq war is "manifestly illegal." . . . .: "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order. It is my duty not to follow unlawful orders and not to participate in things I find morally reprehensible." . . . .
: "My participation would make me party to war crimes." Watada Lawyer Frustrated as Judge Narrows Defense This decision was come to after long study of Iraq and the circumstances of the waging of war as he thoroughly prepared himself to deploy.
There is no doubt the military will convict him. This is not meant to be a fair trial. The judge is not allowing evidence about the legality of the war, which prevents Watada to put forward his best defense. While a soldier can have a conscience and refuse an illegal order (in fact he is morally obliged to) in practice the military discourageous such moral stands.Making an Example of Ehren Watada
Watada is unique. No other officer has publically refused to go to Iraq. One wonders where the other men of conscience are. The war in Iraq is a preemptive war of aggression. It is a Crime Against Peace, by definition. There should have been more officers refusing to go particularly those of higher rank who presumably are well versed in the American constitution and US international agreements. which are part of American law. It seem those generals who disagreed with this war, quietly resigned ( with their pensions secure, as civilians many have spoken out ) or were professionally passed over by those who were willing to set their conscience aside and answer the call to serve by a President who is now guilty of Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. Under the principle of "command responsibility " the officers who conducted this war are also guilty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Command_responsibility it is on the principle of command responsibility that First Lieutenant Watada has felt it necessary to refuse an "illegal" order.
He will courageously pay a price for his act of conscience. One can only hope some of those responsible to prosecuting the war will some day be held accountable for their crimes which must leave them with guilty consciences. It is unlikely the American people will hold them accountable but on the principle of "universal juristiction" those in other countries may arrest them and bring them before the International Criminal Court. They will be at risk of arrest any time they leave the United States. Perhaps, this fear of arrest is all the punishment we can reasonably expect. In contrast, Lt. Watada after serving his sentence will still be a free man of conscience continuing to carry himself with the dignity he has shown during this ordeal.
Instead of Iraq, a battle all his own - Los Angeles Times
(Just before I posted this I read a mistrial was declared in his trial over a technicality and a new court martial be held later)