THE TRIAL OF EHREN WATADA
This week, Lt. Ehren Watada faces a court martial for his refusal to serve in Iraq. But the trial of Lt. Watada is one in which We The People will be judged.
Following World War Two the Neuremberg trials established the principle that following orders was NOT an excuse for war crimes. The correlary is that soldiers not only have a right, but a duty to refuse to obey orders they consider to be illegal or immoral. This right is a foundation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice under which Amerecan military troops operate.
And, given that officers issuing illegal or immoral orders are not likely to announce them as such, implicit in the right to refuse such orders is the right and obligation of the soldier receiving those orders to make a determination if the orders are legal.
This is the principle the US Government is trying to bury as it prepares for Lt. Watada’s Court Martial. The last thing the government wants is for the legality of the war in Iraq to be put on trial.
But there is another principle the US Government hope is also pretending does not exist. And that is that the military of the United States is subordinate to the civilian control of the nation. That is why the Commander in Chief is a civilian position. That is why Congress must vote on the top military honors and promotions. Congress is, in theory, subordinate to the will of the people. That is why it is called a representative government.
It therefore follows that the civilians of the United States, i.e. WE THE PEOPLE have an authority in principle to tell the military court martial of Ehren Watada that this case is indeed about the legality of the Iraq war.
With that right, comes responsibility. And the world will judge not Lt. Watada, not the court martial, not the White House, but WE THE PEOPLE based on what we do to avert what appears to be a serious abuse of military authority.
If we accept that a soldier has a right and a duty to refuse to obey an illegal order, it follows that We The Poeple have a similar right and duty to stand by that soldier. WE have to make noise. We have to call attention to the injustice. We must hold that injustice up to the world’s criticism.
If, on the other hand, we sit still and allow our government to establish a precedent that soldiers CAN be ordered to commit illegal acts, we are no better than those Germans who remained quiet while Hitler ordered their soldiers to commit war crimes.
So, how do you want history to remember you?
And what are you prepared to do about it.
More info at Thank you Lt. Watada