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Thread: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

  1. #1

    Default US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    I got a lot of respect for this guy. Lots of people know the War on Iraq is illegal, this guy has the honor enough to stand up for that truth. Kudos to him. I think it's especially hypocritical and immoral that they are charging him with "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman" considering that refusing to participate in an illegal war is exactly how a gentleman would & should conduct himself.

    First Lieutenant Ehren Watada still refuses Iraq deployment orders, calling the war illegal. A six-year prison term could result. Preliminary hearings are set for Thursday.

    By the Hot Zone Team, Tue Jan 2, 6:38 PM ET

    First Lt. Ehren Watada, a 28-year-old Hawaii native, is the first commissioned officer in the U.S. to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq. He announced last June his decision not to deploy on the grounds the war is illegal.


    Lt. Watada was based at Fort Lewis, Washington, with the Army's 3rd (Stryker) Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He has remained on base, thus avoiding charges of desertion.


    He does, however, face one count of "missing troop movement" and four counts of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.


    Watada's court martial is on February 5. A pre-trial hearing is set for January 4, with an added scope of controversy: the Army has ordered two freelance journalists, Sarah Olson and Dahr Jamail, to testify against Lt. Watada at the hearing. Both journalists are fighting the subpoenas.

    Kevin Sites recently spoke with Lt. Watada about the reasoning behind his decision, the controversy the decision has caused and how he is dealing with the repercussions.

    Lt. Watada spoke on the phone from his family's home in Hawaii. A transcript of the interview follows.


    KEVIN SITES: Now, you joined the Army right after the US was invading Iraq and now you're refusing to go. Some critics might look at this as somewhat disingenuous. You've taken an oath, received training but now you won't fight. Can you explain your rationale behind this?


    EHREN WATADA: Sure. I think that in March of 2003 when I joined up, I, like many Americans, believed the administration when they said the threat from Iraq was imminent — that there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout Iraq; that there were stockpiles of it; and because of Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist acts, the threat was imminent and we needed to invade that country immediately in order to neutralize that threat.


    Since then I think I, as many, many Americans are realizing, that those justifications were intentionally falsified in order to fit a policy established long before 9/11 of just toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and setting up an American presence in Iraq.


    SITES: Tell me how those views evolved. How did you come to that conclusion?


    WATADA: I think the facts are out there, they're not difficult to find, they just take a little bit of willingness and interest on behalf of anyone who is willing to seek out the truth and find the facts. All of it is in the mainstream media. But it is quickly buried and it is quickly hidden by other events that come and go. And all it takes is a little bit of logical reasoning. The Iraq Survey Group came out and said there were no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 and during 2003. The 9/11 Commission came out and said there were no ties with Iraq to 9/11 or al-Qaeda. The president himself came out and said that nobody in his administration ever suggested that there was a link.


    And yet those ties to al-Qaeda and the weapons of mass destruction were strongly suggested. They said there was no doubt there were weapons of mass destruction all throughout 2002, 2003 and even 2004. So, they came out and they say this, and yet they say it was bad intelligence, not manipulated intelligence, that was the problem. And then you have veteran members of the CIA that come out and say, "No. It was manipulated intelligence. We told them there was no WMD. We told them there were no ties to al-Qaeda. And they said that that's not what they wanted to hear."


    SITES: Do you think that you could have determined some of this information prior to joining the military — if a lot of it, as you say, was out there? There were questions going into the war whether WMD existed or not, and you seemingly accepted the administration's explanation for that. Why did you do that at that point?


    WATADA: Certainly yeah, there was other information out there that I could have sought out. But I put my trust in our leaders in government.


    SITES: Was there a turning point for you when you actually decided that this was definitely an illegal war?


    WATADA: Certainly. I think that when we take an oath we, as soldiers and officers, swear to protect the constitution — with our lives as necessary — and those constitutional values and laws that make us free and make us a democracy. And when we have one branch of government that intentionally deceives another branch of government in order to authorize war, and intentionally deceives the people in order to gain that public support, that is a grave breach of our constitutional values, our laws, our checks and balances, and separation of power.


    SITES: But Lieutenant, was there one specific incident that happened in Iraq or that the administration had said or done at a certain period that [made you say] "I have to examine this more closely"?

    WATADA: No, I think that certainly as the war went on, and it was not going well, doubts came up in my mind, but at that point I still was willing to go. At one point I even volunteered to go to Iraq with any unit that was short of junior officers.

    SITES: At what point was that?

    WATADA: This was in September of 2005. But as soon as I found out, and as I began to read and research more and more that the administration had intentionally deceived the public and Congress over the reasons for going to Iraq, that's when I told myself "there's something wrong here."

    "I saw the pain and agony etched upon the faces of all these families of lost soldiers. And I told myself that this needs to stop."
    — Lt. Ehren Watada

    SITES: Was there any kind of personal conviction as well, I mean in terms of exposure to returning soldiers or Marines — the kinds of wounds they suffered, the kinds of stories that they were bringing back with them — did that have any kind of influence or create any factors for you in coming to this decision?

    WATADA: Sure, I felt, well, in a general sense I felt that when we put our trust in the government, when we put our lives in their hands, that is a huge responsibility. And we also say that "when we put our lives in your hands, we ask that you not abuse that trust; that you not take us to war over flimsy or false reasons; that you take us to war when it is absolutely necessary." Because we have so much to lose, you know — the soldiers, our lives, our limbs, our minds and our families — that the government and the people owe that to us.

    SITES: Was there a fear that played into that? Did you see returning soldiers with lost limbs? Was there a concern for you that you might lose your life going to Iraq?

    WATADA: No, that had nothing to do with the issue. The issue here is that we have thousands of soldiers returning. And what is their sacrifice for? For terrorism or establishing democracy or whatever the other reasons are. And I saw the pain and agony etched upon the faces of all these families of lost soldiers. And I told myself that this needs to stop. We cannot have people in power that are irresponsible and corrupt and that keep on going that way because they're not held accountable to the people.

    SITES: You know on that note, Lieutenant, let me read you something from a speech that you gave in August to the Veterans for Peace. You had said at one point, "Many have said this about the World Trade Towers: never again. I agree, never again will we allow those who threaten our way of life to reign free. Be they terrorists or elected officials. The time to fight back is now, the time to stand up and be counted is today." Who were you speaking about when you said that?

    WATADA: I was speaking about everybody. The American people. That we all have that duty, that obligation, that responsibility to do something when we see our government perpetrating a crime upon the world, or even upon us. And I think that the American people have lost that, that sense of duty. There is no self-interest in this war for the vast majority of the American people. And because of that the American soldiers have suffered.

    There really is a detachment from this war, and many of the American people, because there is no draft, or for whatever reason, because taxes haven't been raised, they don't have anything personally to lose or gain with this war, and so they take little interest.

    SITES: Do you think President Bush and his advisers are guilty of criminal conduct in the prosecution of this war?

    WATADA: That's not something for me to determine. I think it's for the newly-elected congress to determine during the investigations that they should hold over this war, and pre-war intelligence.

    SITES: But in some ways you have determined that. You're saying this is an illegal war, and an illegal act usually takes prosecution by someone with criminal intent. Is that correct?

    WATADA: Right, and they have taken me to court with that, but they have refused — or it will be very unlikely that the prosecution in the military court will allow me to bring in evidence and witnesses to testify on my behalf that the war is illegal. So therefore it becomes the responsibility of Congress, since the military is refusing to do that. It becomes the responsibility of Congress to hold our elected leaders accountable.

    SITES: Now this is the same Congress though that in a lot of ways voted for this war initially. Do you think that they're going to turn around and in some ways say that they were wrong? And hold hearings to determine exactly that, that they made a mistake as well? It seems like a long shot.

    WATADA: Right, well I think some in Congress are willing to do that, and some aren't. And that's the struggle, and that's the fight that's going to occur over the next year.

    SITES: Let me ask you why you decided to go to the press with this. In this particular case you're the first officer — there may have been other officers that have refused these orders, but you're the first one to really do this publicly. Why did you do that?

    WATADA: Because I wanted to explain to the American people why I was taking the stand I was taking — that it wasn't for selfish reasons, it wasn't for cowardly reasons.

    You know, I think the most important reason here is to raise awareness among the American people that hey — there's a war going on, and American soldiers are dying every day. Hundreds of Iraqis are dying every day. You need to take interest, and ask yourself where you stand, and what you're willing to do, to end this war, if you do believe that it's wrong — that it's illegal, and immoral. And I think I have accomplished that. Many, many people come up to me and say, "because of you, I have taken an active interest in what's going on over in Iraq."

    And also, you know, [I want to] give a little hope and inspiration back to a lot of people. For a long time I was really without hope, thinking that there was nothing I could do about something that I saw, that was so wrong, and so tragic. And I think a lot of people who have been trying to end this war felt the same way — that there was just nothing that they could do. And I think by taking my stand publicly, and stating my beliefs and standing on those beliefs, a lot of people have taken encouragement from that.

    SITES: You've said that you had a responsibility to your own conscience in this particular situation. Did you also have a responsibility to your unit as well? I just want to read you a quote from Veterans of Foreign Wars communications director Jerry Newbury. He said "[Lt. Watada] has an obligation to fulfill, and it's not up to the individual officer to decide when he's going to deploy or not deploy. Some other officer will have to go in his place. He needs to think about that." Can you react to that quote?

    WATADA: You know, what I'm doing is for the soldiers. I'm trying to end something that is criminal, something that should not have been started in the first place and something that is making America less safe — and that is the Iraq war. By just going there and being willing to participate, and doing my job, or whatever I'm told to do — which actually exacerbates the situation and makes it worse — I would not be serving the best interest of this country, nor the soldiers that I'm serving with. What I'm trying to do is end something, as I said, that's illegal, and immoral, so that all the soldiers can come home and this tragedy can come to an end.

    It seems like people and critics make this distinction between an order to deploy and any other order, as if the order to deploy is just something that's beyond any other order. Orders have to be determined on whether they're legal or not. And if the order to deploy to a war that is unlawful, if that is given, then that order itself is unlawful.

    SITES: How did your peers and your fellow officers react to your decision?

    WATADA: I know that there have been some people within the military who won't agree with my stance, and there have been a lot of members of the Army of all ranks who have agreed with what I've done. And I see it almost every other day, where someone in uniform, or a dependent, approaches me in person, or through correspondence, and thanks me for what I have done, and either supports or respects my stand.

    SITES: You've remained on base, and that's been a situation that can't be too comfortable for you. Can you fill us in on what that's been like there?

    WATADA: I think that for the most part, people that I interact with closely — I have been moved, I'm no longer in the 3rd Striker Brigade, I'm over in 1st Corps — treat me professionally, politely, but keep their distance. I don't think anybody wants to get involved with the position that I've taken, either way. People approach me in private and give me their support.

    SITES: Tell me about the repercussions you face in this court martial.

    WATADA: Well I think with the charges that have been applied to me and referred over to a general court martial, I'm facing six years maximum confinement, dishonorable discharge from the army, and loss of all pay and allowances.

    STES: Are you ready to deal with all those consequences with this decision?

    WATADA: Sure, and I think that's the decision that I made almost a year ago, in January, when I submitted my original letter of resignation. I knew that possibly some of the things that I stated in that letter, including my own beliefs, that there were repercussions from that. Yet I felt it was a sacrifice, and it was a necessary sacrifice, to make. And I feel the same today.

    I think that there are many supporters out there who feel that I should not be made an example of, that I'm speaking out for what a lot of Americans are increasingly becoming aware of: that the war is illegal and immoral and it must be stopped. And that the military should not make an example or punish me severely for that.

    SITES: Do you think that you made a mistake in joining the military? Your mother and father support you in this decision, and your father during the Vietnam War refused to go to Vietnam as well, but instead joined the Peace Corps. He went to his draft board and said, "let me join the Peace Corps and serve in Peru," which is what he did. Do you think in hindsight that that might have been a better decision for you as well?

    WATADA: You know I think that John Murtha came out a few months ago in an interview and he was asked if, with all his experience, in Korea, and Vietnam, volunteering for those wars -- he was asked if he would join the military today. And he said absolutely not. And I think that with the knowledge that I have now, I agree. I would not join the military because I would be forced into a position where I would be ordered to do something that is wrong. It is illegal and immoral. And I would be put into a situation as a soldier to be abused and misused by those in power.

    STIES: In your speech in front of the Veterans for Peace you said "the oath we take as soldiers swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people." Can you expand upon that a little bit — what did you mean when you said that?

    WATADA: The constitution was established, and our laws are established, to protect human rights, to protect equal rights and constitutional civil liberties. And I think we have people in power who say that those laws, or those principles, do not apply to them — that they are above the law and can do whatever it takes to manipulate or create laws that enable them to do whatever they please. And that is a danger in our country, and I think the war in Iraq is just one symptom of this agenda. And I think as soldiers, as American people, we need to recognize this, and we need to put a stop to it before it's too late
    Last edited by Navaros; 01-04-2007 at 08:08.

  2. #2
    Member Member Yun Dog's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    As much as I think the war in Iraq is farce and agree with the guys opinion. Once you VOLENTEER for the army - then you DONT have an opinion you follow orders full stop. Its not his problem if he thinks its right or wrong - he needs to do what he told and not think.

    As far as court marshall - they shouldve just DD the guy and saved the bad press. This guy is hurting his fellow soliders on the ground.. he needs to shut up.

    The ones giving the orders and making the decisions are the ones who need to worry about illegal wars - not the soldiers they just need to do their duty - they are blameless.

    If you volenteer for the army expect to have to go and kill people - sorry thats what armys do - best not to think about it.
    Quote Originally Posted by pevergreen View Post
    its pevergeren.

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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunus Dogus
    As much as I think the war in Iraq is farce and agree with the guys opinion. Once you VOLENTEER for the army - then you DONT have an opinion you follow orders full stop. Its not his problem if he thinks its right or wrong - he needs to do what he told and not think.

    I found that the point you make here is very correctly rendered invalid by a poster who made a comment on the page where I saw the article.

    By volunteering to participate in a war you did not believe in, you shirked your duty to your country and the ideals of of the Consitution by empowering the government's actions. You basically surrendered your conscience and morals to the government. Mr. Watada joined the military to perform what he felt was his duty and obligation and upon discovering that the Executive Branch had lied to Congress and the American people (which included him) decided that he could no longer support this war. A war that he considered to be illegal. This determination of illegality occurred AFTER he had been enticed by fraudulent statements of the Executive Branch. No one in this country can be held to any contract entered into by reason of fraud. That is our law, and that is what Mr. Watada is saying occurred in this case. You cannot say that he is a traitor or a deserter. He is doing what he believes fulfills his oath to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America" and he has not deserted from the Army. Mr. Watada is an American of the highest caliber, one who is willing to sacrifice in the name of America and what it means. I, for one, wish that I could say the same about our current Administration and the past Congress.

  4. #4

    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Soldiers do not get to pick and choose which wars they fight.

    At best this man is simply a coward, at worst a traitor.

    Both deserve to rot in prison.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Yeti Sports 1.5 Champion, Snowboard Slalom Champion, Monkey Jump Champion, Mosquito Kill Champion Csargo's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    Soldiers do not get to pick and choose which wars they fight.

    At best this man is simply a coward, at worst a traitor.

    Both deserve to rot in prison.
    I agree
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    Senior Member Senior Member naut's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    EDIT:

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunus Dogus
    Once you VOLENTEER for the army - then you DONT have an opinion you follow orders full stop. Its not his problem if he thinks its right or wrong - he needs to do what he told and not think.
    Quote Originally Posted by PanzerJager
    Soldiers do not get to pick and choose which wars they fight.
    Exactly.
    Last edited by naut; 01-04-2007 at 08:36.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    I'll only go so far as to say he's wrong.

    His reasoning is extremely poor- it suggests to me that he's working at some other agenda than what he states.

    SITES: Do you think President Bush and his advisers are guilty of criminal conduct in the prosecution of this war?

    WATADA: That's not something for me to determine.
    Yet he declares multiple times that it's an "illegal war"- I thought that isn't for him to decide?

    If he's willing to risk prison time to make a point, good for him. But he is going to go to prison and rightfully so- he's clearly in the wrong.
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Perhaps he should think about why armies have court martials. To stop this sort of thing.

    It was after all his choice to join the army, the fact that he doesn't like the war they are currently fighting has nothing to do with it.

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    Member Member Productivity's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunus Dogus
    As much as I think the war in Iraq is farce and agree with the guys opinion. Once you VOLENTEER for the army - then you DONT have an opinion you follow orders full stop. Its not his problem if he thinks its right or wrong - he needs to do what he told and not think.
    That's not exactly true. If what you are being ordered to do is illegal or utterly wrong you can refuse to carry it out. It's a long proven precedent that being ordered to do something doesn't absolve you of guilt for doing it, the flipside of that is that you have to refuse what you beleive is ilegal.

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    Shark in training Member Keba's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    While it is an interesting case, the point is that he did join under deception.

    I have no doubt that he'd be quite willing to go to Afghanistan, should he be ordered, but he was ordered to Iraq.

    Still, I'm not sure I quite agree with his actions, but I certainly see the reasoning in them, and the danger he is to the whole operation. If he is absolved of guilt by the tribunal, there will be a very, very dangerous precedent, and there'll be soldiers and officers just lining up to leave.

    Quote Originally Posted by Productivity
    If what you are being ordered to do is illegal or utterly wrong you can refuse to carry it out. It's a long proven precedent that being ordered to do something doesn't absolve you of guilt for doing it, the flipside of that is that you have to refuse what you beleive is illegal.
    Took the words out of my mouth, though, to be pedantic, a soldier may only refuse to commit an illegal order, not one that he considers morally wrong, but yes.

    The key question is still whether the orders for transfer are illegal or not. The invasion certainly is, but I'm not so sure about the orders. If he had said this when assigned to the troops meant to participate in the initial invasion, it would be a no-brainer, but as it is ... well, the decision could go either way.

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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Keba
    a soldier may only refuse to commit an illegal order, not one that he considers morally wrong, but yes.
    Under law yes, in practice no. If hypothetically I, an Iraqi soldier knowingly executed (innocent) Kurdish civilians, despite it being legal under Iraq's laws at the time, would I be hanging today along with Saddam? I think the answer is yes. People have a bad habit of making retro-active laws, often on grounds of morality - see Saddam Hussein. I've yet to see anyone actually show that he did anything *illegal* under Iraqi law at the time, yet he's dead now.

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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Keba
    The key question is still whether the orders for transfer are illegal or not. The invasion certainly is, but I'm not so sure about the orders. If he had said this when assigned to the troops meant to participate in the initial invasion, it would be a no-brainer, but as it is ... well, the decision could go either way.
    I really didn't have any interest in going down this worn path again, but... the invasion certainly was not illegal- that much is clear. It was ordered by our elected (and re-elected) chief executive, approved by our legislature and is today continually funded (thereby implicitly approved) by our legislature. Go read the AUMF- the Congress was quite capable of spelling out it's own reasons to authorize force, it wasn't "because Bush said so, and we trust him completely".

    The only grounds some try to claim illegality on is the international/UN scene, but: 1)That dismisses Watada's bogus Constitutional argument (which doesn't hold up anyway) and 2)It hasn't been determined to be illegal under the UN to begin with.
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    Shark in training Member Keba's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    It was illegal in that it wasn't preceeded by a formal declaration of war, which is kinda necessary.

    Secondly, well, the UN Security Council is required to declare any invasion illegal, and we all know how good the Security Council is at reaching decisions.

  14. #14

    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Volunteer or not, he is right in his convictions. The war is illegal. When someone joins the military in any country, they may do so for a variety of reasons. The one thing they expect though, is to fight in the defence of their country, in the defence of allies, or against those that pose a threat to their country or allies. The Iraq war does not fit into any of those categories. Iraq never posed a threat to the US or any of it's allies. The WMD claim was entirely false and used a pretext. In view of this you cannot blame, military personnel for feeling deceived and even betrayed. The Bush Administration, with a helping hand from Tony Blair, created this mess, and have been sending men to their deaths ever since. For what? The Situation in Iraq is now far worse, and far more have now died as a result of the US led invasion than died as a result of Sadam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. The whole thing appears hypocritical and false. Also to imply that military personnel are some kind of mindless drones that should simply carry out orders without question does them a disservice. Both governments have admitted they've made "mistakes", but are now adopting the "well now we're in and can't pull out till the 'job' is done" line, while just hoping that public forgets all of the pre war WMD spin, lies and the bollox they've made of the whole operation and Iraq itself.

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    Texan Member BigTex's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Legality is a ridiculous argument for a war. Legality of a war is decided by the more powerful. Currently that means this war is legal nav.

    As for this man he should be shot for desertion. He volunteered for the military, fully aware of what that meant. He has sworn to uphold the constitution, and the senate has approved military action. He's deserted his comrades and slandered the name of his commander in chief. Give him the choice of Iraq or Death, I think then he'll recall his previous commitments.
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    Shark in training Member Keba's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex
    Legality is a ridiculous argument for a war. Legality of a war is decided by the more powerful. Currently that means this war is legal ...
    Legality is also decided by the bystanders. These are no longer the days when you could march to war whenever you felt like doing it, and expect everyone to be unable to say anything.

    The war may be legal as far as the internal laws are concerned (though dubiosuly legal, it is legal nontheless), but consider that the internal legal system is no longer the only one that matters.

    Thus, when a large number of other countries (big, important countries) denounced the war as illegal (from an international perspective), it became illegal, not from the point of view of the state, but from the point of view of the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex
    ... slandered the name of his commander in chief.
    There actually is a way for the guy to be slandered? More than he is already? Huh, you learn something new every day.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex
    Give him the choice of Iraq or Death, I think then he'll recall his previous commitments.
    Maybe he would, but then again, maybe he would not. You make an assumption, and a wrong one at that. If he chooses Death, as you put it, there are two victories in it for him. One, he becomes a martyr, in the unlikely event that it is carried through, and we all know what a martyr can do.

    Second, well, offering him the death penalty would be a bluff of the highest order. To sentence him for that would immediately cause a reaction among the wider population, one that would neither be favourable to the miltary and politicians nor one that could easily be fixed. Such a decision would be suicide, as the public outcry would be quite large.

    As it stands, I do believe the officer in question has already won, in a way.

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    L'Etranger Senior Member Banquo's Ghost's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex
    Legality is a ridiculous argument for a war. Legality of a war is decided by the more powerful. Currently that means this war is legal nav.

    As for this man he should be shot for desertion. He volunteered for the military, fully aware of what that meant. He has sworn to uphold the constitution, and the senate has approved military action. He's deserted his comrades and slandered the name of his commander in chief. Give him the choice of Iraq or Death, I think then he'll recall his previous commitments.
    That has to be a joke post. What kind of country do you think you live in?

    I disagree with his actions and arguments, but soldiers are not automatons. They are encouraged to make moral and political judgments - otherwise one gets the mindless brutality seen in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. A thinking soldier is a good soldier.

    He has made his decision in the knowledge of the possible sanctions. He has been properly charged and has a chance to make his case. He will get appropriately sentenced if found guilty.

    And he has not been charged with desertion.

    By the way, very few volunteer for military service fully aware of what it meant. Only actual experience brings awareness, and then rarely complete.
    "If there is a sin against life, it consists not so much in despairing as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this one."
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  18. #18
    A very, very Senior Member Adrian II's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunus Dogus
    If you volenteer for the army expect to have to go and kill people - sorry thats what armys do - best not to think about it.
    Best not to think about what? The killing, the dead, the reasons for it all? If you believe that most humans are able to stop thinking about such issues when they are directly involved in them, you need to wake up.

    And singing up to defend your country and constitution does not equal issuing a blanc cheque to the powers that be. Sure, there are youngsters who join modern western armies mainly in order to 'go and kill people' and who love nothing better than to shut their eyes to the reasons and consequences. Those are usually not the best soldiers, and you don't want them in charge in any situation precisely because they can't think for themselves. They are the low end of the military food chain and they better stay there, unless we want to replicate some of the major tragedies of the 20th century.
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  19. #19
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Productivity
    That's not exactly true. If what you are being ordered to do is illegal or utterly wrong you can refuse to carry it out. It's a long proven precedent that being ordered to do something doesn't absolve you of guilt for doing it, the flipside of that is that you have to refuse what you beleive is ilegal.
    That argument has been applied to specific actions, never to deployments. Was this soldier asked to serve in a concentration camp? No. Was this soldier asked to shoot down a civilian? No. Was he ordered to behead kittens? Nope. Did his C.O. tell him to rape someone? Nuh-uh. He was merely deployed, which is a pretty low standard for an illegal order.

    Arguing that the entire war is a war crime is a stretch for a soldier, and frankly, above his pay grade. The whole issue of illegal orders is tricky, but I think it's safe to assume that serving soldiers are not allowed to make sweeping decisions of state and national interest. If he had been issued a specific illegal order, that would be a different thing. But on the face of it, there's nothing illegal about ordering a soldier to deploy in an ongoing conflict.

    [edit]

    Here's a good beginner's article on the distinction between legal and illegal orders. From the Manual for Court-Martials:

    "An order requiring the performance of a military duty or act may be inferred to be lawful and it is disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate. This inference does not apply to a patently illegal order, such as one that directs the commission of a crime."
    Last edited by Lemur; 01-04-2007 at 14:43.
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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    In the Leader of the Democracies, the Land Of The Free, a person who refuses to serve in what is seen as an illegal war might get severely reprimanded...

    I respect him for his convictions, especially if he would go do other fronts that are equally dangerous.

    I agree that if he were let off as the war is illegal, this sets a precedent. But IMO that is a good thing. The army is there to serve the government, and hence the people. When the government fails to serve the people, the army should at the very least refuse orders. One could argue it is their duty to act against those ordering illegal actions.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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  21. #21
    Nobody Important Member Somebody Else's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    It seems to me that this man is being cowardly, and is making use of widespread dissatisfaction of the war to try and weasel out of being deployed. Is it a coincidence, d'you think, that his willingness to go has deteriorated as the danger to allied troops out there has been increasing?

    As a lieutenant, his duty should be to the men under his command, that he will have trained and trained with. What service is he doing them, by forcing them to fight under the command of a new and unfamiliar officer?

    If he thought the invasion was illegal, he should never have joined up. If he thinks that being there at the invitation, and in support of the current government is illegal, then he should never have been allowed into the army in the first place.

    I've spoken to some people who've served out there, in command of platoons of men. They have no doubt whatsoever that what they are doing is morally right. Their men have no doubt whatsoever that what they are doing is morally right. Is anyone who hasn't been there even remotely qualified to make such a judgement as this Watada is?

    If I were an officer, I for one would believe it my duty, regardless of the cause of a war, to go off and lead men and fight in it. It would be my duty to ensure that the men under my command conducted themselves as I would. In as decent and humane a way as possible - it would horrify me to think that the only people willing to go and fight were the sociopathic killers so many seem to think soldiers to be.
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  22. #22
    Forum Lurker Member Sir Moody's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    To be honest im highly against out war in Iraq and even i think this soldier is full of hot air - firstly while I hate it the war wasnt illegal - It WAS justified with lies and false propaganda but it wasnt illegal in anyway.

    Secondly while a soldier can refuse an illegal order the transfer order isnt such an order. Illegal orders are defined as an order that forces a Solider to perform a criminal action. Being transferred to Iraq plainly isnt forcing him to commit a crime hence it isnt an illegal order.

    hes plainly a Political activist getting his 10 minutes of fame

  23. #23
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Somebody Else
    It seems to me that this man is being cowardly, and is making use of widespread dissatisfaction of the war to try and weasel out of being deployed. Is it a coincidence, d'you think, that his willingness to go has deteriorated as the danger to allied troops out there has been increasing?
    Why not send him to Afghanistan, which is generally recognised to be far more dangerous than Iraq? Surely he has no problem with the legality of that, while the danger he will face will counter accusations of cowardice.

  24. #24
    Nobody Important Member Somebody Else's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian
    Why not send him to Afghanistan, which is generally recognised to be far more dangerous than Iraq? Surely he has no problem with the legality of that, while the danger he will face will counter accusations of cowardice.
    The US army is hardly going to change the deployment of a battalion to suit one of the lieutenants within it. If he wished to prove that he isn't a coward, then I'm sure he could request a transfer, rather than skulking in a base in the US.
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  25. #25
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Somebody Else
    The US army is hardly going to change the deployment of a battalion to suit one of the lieutenants within it. If he wished to prove that he isn't a coward, then I'm sure he could request a transfer, rather than skulking in a base in the US.
    Attach him to the Brits the next time we want to repeat the outpost strategy. 60 days of isolation, no reinforcements, no resupply, under heavy fire 24/7. I don't think we're quite lunatic enough to want to repeat that feat, but if you can cobble together a company of conscientious objectors I'm sure we'll be happy enough to oblige (chuck in the accused from Haditha and other incidents if you're short). Perhaps if they're lucky they'll emulate the British soldiers who survived, rather than the French soldiers who were gutted by their captors.

    Didn't Napoleon used to march rebellious regiments into the open, to be whittled down by the enemy until he felt they had been sufficiently punished? Now there's a charming anachronism - penal battalions.

  26. #26
    Feeding the Peanut Gallery Senior Member Redleg's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Quote Originally Posted by Keba
    It was illegal in that it wasn't preceeded by a formal declaration of war, which is kinda necessary.

    Secondly, well, the UN Security Council is required to declare any invasion illegal, and we all know how good the Security Council is at reaching decisions.
    Care to guess how many wars the United States has fought in the last 60 years without a formal declartion of war.

    Give you a small hint - all of them since 1946.

    Calling the war illegal is incorrect for this officer since frankly Congress authorized the use of force against Iraq. The courts martial will go badly for him if this is his arguement. Hopefully his lawyer has a better defense then the one protrayed in the article.
    Last edited by Redleg; 01-04-2007 at 15:47.
    O well, seems like 'some' people decide to ruin a perfectly valid threat. Nice going guys... doc bean

  27. #27
    Hope guides me Senior Member Hosakawa Tito's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    All military personnel sign an enlistment contract,click> Form DD 4, that spells out one's obligations to the US branch of service. You will notice that there is no "having to agree with or like it clause". Determining the legality of the conflict in question is way beyond a Lieutenant's pay grade. The correct way to respond is to follow his orders and file his greivance. His admirers and supporters will be able to mail their correspondence to him at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (military prison) after his military courts martial has concluded, because that is where he will end up.
    "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." *Jim Elliot*

  28. #28
    Nobody Important Member Somebody Else's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    I remember a similar incident with a British officer, medical - not sure if he was army or RAF. Nor can I remember quite what happened to him. I'm sure google does though.

    *edit*

    Ah yes. RAF medical officer. Jailed, fined and chucked out of the service. Malcolm Kendall-Smith.
    Last edited by Somebody Else; 01-04-2007 at 16:11.
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  29. #29
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    Redleg and Hosa' are on track here.

    If this Eltee's attorney tries to argue that deploying him to Iraq does not constitute a "lawful order" because he personally (as opposed to the expressed will of Congress) views the war as illegal and wrong, he's going to get his clock cleaned.

    Future letters to Ft. Leavenworth indeed.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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  30. #30
    Sacrelicious Member Rameusb5's Avatar
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    Default Re: US soldier refuses deployment to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal

    In the local sense, this guy has no leg to stand on. Whether or not he believes the war is illegal or not, he is required to obey orders. He should not have been so trusting of the government, and should look at this as a life lesson. To many people in our culture feel the need to avoid problems that they themselves created rather than just sucking it up and learning from the experience. This guy needs to deal with it and then write his congressman.


    In the grand scheme of things, I have a very strong belief that the citizens of a democracy (or republic) are in the end responsible for the actions of their government. It is their DUTY to defy their leaders when they get out of line. I am reminded of pre-war German during the 30's where nearly every German citizen watched and did NOTHING while Jews (their fellow citizens) were discriminated against. Even at the risk of death, it is the duty of the citizen of any country to attempt to stop immoral and corrupt behavior in their culture.

    The American public in 2002 and 2003 were too lazy or too stupid not to realize that they were being misled. Throughout the entire buildup to the war, I kept asking the question "what are we going to do after we defeat them?" Nobody else seemed to be asking that question, and if they did, there was no specific answer other than "We're going to turn Iraq into a Democracy" as if you could wave a magic wand and make it happen. I also heard NO evidence that WMDs existed that was more than a passing anecdote that maybe, perhaps, they had at some point talked to some guy about it.

    The Americans deserve this war and deserve to be the laughing stock of the world community because they UTTERLY failed to do their civic duty and think for themselves. They heard good ol' boy Bush Jr tell them how things were going to be so great after we went in there and kick some ass just like in the the good ol' days and everyone just bought it. What I find even more disappointing is that other countries have gotten involved. I'd feel a lot better about the whole situation if the entire world had basically said "no" when we attempted to bully them into joining our coalition.


    But, IMHO, soldiers do not have the same rights or responsibilities as civilians and are supposed to do what they are told. This is one of the reasons that I never joined the US military. I had a desire to defend my country, but since that's not the SOLE activity of the current US military, I probably would have found myself doing something I would have found decidedly unpatriotic. Like invading a small middle eastern country under false pretenses...
    Last edited by Banquo's Ghost; 01-04-2007 at 17:36. Reason: Poor choice of language
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