Thursday, December 28, 2006

Post-Christmas Thoughts, Mourning Legends, and Iraq

Before I get into this post, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and hope they have a Happy New Year. We lost a true icon of soul in James Brown, who passed away on Christmas morning. He was the Godfather of soul, and he will be sorely missed. In yet another tragic note, former President Gerald Ford has died at the age of 93. I was born in 1979, so I obviously don't remember his Presidency, but from what I've read and seen, he was a humble man who assumed the mantle he never sought, and did his best to heal the wounds of Watergate. Ford received a lot of heat for his pardon of Nixon, but I suspect he was doing what he thought was right, in trying to heal the country by sparing it an ugly trial. May the verdict of history be just.

Speaking of the verdict of history, Marc Cooper has a piece on soldiers who dissent from the Iraq war, with a particular story of one Lt. Ehren Watada, who has resisted deployment to Iraq. I've written before about soldiers in an all-volunteer military refusing to obey orders. Myabe I'm being harsh here, but I don't find much heroism, or nobility in Watada's actions. He has based his actions on his belief that the Iraq war is illegal, and in his view, a war crime. Simply put, he has no legal or moral footing here. He's just plain wrong. We have 17 U.N resolutions, the Iraq War Resolution, and international law as a legal and moral support. It's one thing to consider the war unwise, or mismanaged. I respect the first position, and basically agree with the second. Things aren't going well. But to say this war is illegal, and thus tar all our soldiers as war criminals is wrong.

To be fair, Watada is not hiding from the charges, and he has agreed to serve in Afghanistan, which he believes in just. The thing is, you don't get to pick where they send you, and he ought to face the judgment for his actions. Some have called this an act of civil disobedience, comparing him to Thoreau and others. Ignoring the legal issues for a second, the moral situation in this case is totally different. Thoreau was resisting slavery. Watada refused to obey a lawful order, and thus violated the oath he swore and volunteered to uphold. Many have criticized the policy in Iraq, yet still did their duty. Heck, I support the policy, so I'm biased, and maybe I just can't see his moral position as legitimate. I just think he's totally wrong on this.

I'll leave it at that, as I now steel myself for the onslaught of false accusations of being an intellectual bag man for the Bush Administration, or in the words of one commenter at Cooper's blog, a peddler of "Malkinesque, war-blogger sarcasm."

Oh, and John Edwards has officially announced he's running again.


Tully said...

Watada refused to obey a lawful order, and thus violated the oath he swore and volunteered to uphold.

That's the core of it. When you swear that oath of appointment, you KNOW you will be ordered to do things you don't want to do. And you swear to do them anyway.

Officers have it explained to them very clearly what is and is not a lawful order and what their oath of appointment entails. If it's a lawful order they have zero excuses. They take their oaths "freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion." There is no "if I happen to feel like it and don't disagree with command or civilian authority" clause.

Rafique Tucker said...

Right. And besides, it's not like he has any legal leg to stand on.