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June 20, 2006

Lieutenant Watada speaks.

Via Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, we hear from Lieutenant Watada, himself responding to an email (also posted there, you should read the post).

Dear Sir,

I'm sorry you feel the way you do. But the fact is, I do remember what I swore upon my oath of office: to protect and defend the Consitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The oath of an officer says nothing of obeying the unlawful orders of the President. Even though your experience was rewarding, it gives no credence to the legality of the war and occupation. Please sir, before you respond read the numerous articles by international and Consitutional law experts regarding the Iraq war. It takes a simple Google search. Read the accounts of Iraqis, vets, andindependent journalists who may not have been in your same AO. The responsibility of an officer is to evaluate the legality and truthfulness behind every order. We cannot blindly accept every order, especially one to go to war, based on faith and what our "political" leaders tell us. Many Germans went along with the Nazi's idea of racial superiority or because they were afraid of prison or execution if they didn't. Real leadership means first realizing what's wrong, finding everything there is to know about it, and finally acting upon it.

Uncle Jimbo slides in for the snap shot, which prompted John Noonan over at Milblogs to opine thusly:

Yeah, and I suspect the Nazis weren't pumping sizable portions of their treasury into rebuilding the Polish ghettos either.

Let's run with John's point, shall we?

The problem for Lieutenant Watada is that no competent authority has ruled the war illegal under US law. And that is the governing law here, and that is what will get him less-than-honorably discharged and possibly sent to live with us here in beautiful uptown Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The opinions of Constitutional Scholars are just that. Opinions. Did I miss the Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of US troops? Oh, I've heard opinions from members about it, just as I have heard opinions of members of Congress on the issue. Yet still, the majority of Members of Congress, and sizeable ones at that, continually vote to reauthorize the expenditure of funds and the deployment of the soldiers. And none of them do it under the duress that may have been experienced by members of the Reichstag in Hitler's Germany. The opinions of individual members are just that, until expressed as law. Ramsay Clark has opinions, too. So do I. Both have equal validity in this issue. I.e., none.

Lieutenant Watada should take a look at *who* went in to the dock at Nuremberg. Nary a Lieutenant among 'em. Or a Captain. Or Colonels. Some Field Marshals, yes.

The only officers of his stripe that found themselves in the dock found themselves there - not for going to war on the orders of competent authority - but for engaging in or allowing specific acts and orders contravening the laws governing warfare. Only for those acts, specific and in context, were they put on trial.

Just as we have tried our own for the same thing in this war. And may yet try some more.

Therein lies the difference, Lieutenant Watada.

If what you provided is going to be your defense, and I'm on the panel, all the prosecution has to do is enter your words into evidence and sit down.

But I'll give you this - you're standing up for your beliefs, and you're going to get run over for them.

And you should.

BECAUSE ABSENT VERY SPECIFIC CONDITIONS, NONE OF WHICH APPLY HERE, WE WHO CONTROL THE INSTRUMENT OF THE STATE'S RIGHT TO LEGITIMATE VIOLENCE DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION OF CHOOSING WHICH ORDERS WE WILL FOLLOW. PERIOD.

Believe it or not, Lieutenant, were you to be upheld in your assertions, it would set exactly the wrong precedent. The one where the soldiers (worse - the Officers) decide what is right and good in their employment. Exactly one of the things the Founders feared, regarding a large standing Army.

At the end of that path, at it's extreme, lies military dictatorship. We can barely manage ourselves. Just *imagine* how badly we'd fark up the nation.

It's not hard - look at Central and South America for lots of examples.

Your actions are unwise and actually dangerous in their ability to set up Unintended Consequences.

Except I know we aren't going have any precedents like that set in this case. Not unless you've got a *lot* better a defense than that.

Therefore, once again, I am forced to smash your guitar against the wall.

Come visit, we can chat about it.