This is an excerpt from a speech given by Lt. Watada at the Veterans For Peace National Convention last month. Watada is facing a court martial for refusing to serve in Iraq and for speaking out politically. Yes, you can face court martial for making political statements-- he is facing five counts on that alone. As he gave this speech 50 members of Iraq Veterans Against the War stood behind him giving their support.
"Though the American soldier wants to do right, the illegitimacy of the occupation itself, the policies of this administration, and rules of engagement of desperate field commanders will ultimately force them to be party to war crimes. They must know some of these facts, if not all, in order to act.To read the rest of his speech check out the article. He also notes the Catch-22 situation defined by the modern army's strict military obedience:
Mark Twain once remarked, 'Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country.' By this, each and every American soldier, marine, airman, and sailor is responsible for their choices and their actions. The freedom to choose is only one that we can deny ourselves.
The oath we take swears allegiance not to one man but to a document of principles and laws designed to protect the people. Enlisting in the military does not relinquish one's right to seek the truth - neither does it excuse one from rational thought nor the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. 'I was only following orders' is never an excuse.
The Nuremburg Trials showed America and the world that citizenry as well as soldiers have the unrelinquishable obligation to refuse complicity in war crimes perpetrated by their government. Widespread torture and inhumane treatment of detainees is a war crime. A war of aggression born through an unofficial policy of prevention is a crime against the peace. An occupation violating the very essence of international humanitarian law and sovereignty is a crime against humanity. These crimes are funded by our tax dollars.
Should citizens choose to remain silent through self-imposed ignorance or choice, it makes them as culpable as the soldier in these crimes. The Constitution is no mere document - neither is it old, out-dated, or irrelevant. It is the embodiment of all that Americans hold dear: truth, justice, and equality for all. It is the formula for a government of the people and by the people. It is a government that is transparent and accountable to whom they serve. It dictates a system of checks and balances and separation of powers to prevent the evil that is tyranny."
The American soldier is not a mercenary. He or she does not simply fight wars for payment. Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation. Does it matter what the soldier believes is morally right? If this is a war of necessity, why force men and women to fight? When it comes to a war of ideology, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. How tragic it is when the term Catch-22 defines the modern American military.I had quoted my ancestor Chief White Swan in a previous post who had noted that the servitude of the soldier is very different from the freedom to choose that a warrior in our tribe had. He gave a speech to a General (whom he called a "monster") saying that our warriors could leave the field of battle if they chose and others would say, "Maybe he will be braver next time." If a U.S. soldier fled his superiors would have him shot. Meanwhile, the officers sat on the fastest horses on a hill, watching the battle through a spyglass. He was basically describing a form of servitude that was alien and in his mind, wrong. How can one be a warrior if one is in the end, a soldier? There is in American society the desire to limit choice, to enforce loyalties and to impose strict hierarchies that is very feudal in nature. I call it a "serf mentality". Hard to shake, that.
If you would like to support Lt. Watada, please check out the website:
Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada
He needs all the support you can give. Even Sen. Inouye, a long-time supporter of Native issues, has recommended that Watada be court-martialed. Watada's father will be touring Oregon raising support for his son and money for his defense. Here are his speaking dates:
Eugene, Oregon - Tuesday, August 29, Noon - Rally at the Federal Building, 7th and Pearl Streets.
Eugene, Oregon - Tuesday, August 29, 7PM - Event at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street.
Salem, Oregon - Wednesday, August 30 - Meet Bob at the Lt. Watada/peace both at the Oregon State Fair (near the enterance).