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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2006

 

Opposing war in Iraq my duty as American
By First Lt. Ehren Watada

My name is Ehren Watada. I am a US Army commissioned officer. Currently, I am awaiting charges for refusal to participate in the illegal war and occupation in Iraq.
I was born and raised in Hawaii. As a child, my family instilled in me a moral sense of right, wrong and giving of one's self. As a young man, I worked my way through college, appreciating the value of earning my own education. I haven't always lived a perfect life, but I have tried to live it to the best of my ability.

When I decided to be military officer, I chose to lead by example and put the needs of others before myself. Joining the Army is a choice I will never regret: My decision to reject unlawful and immoral orders in spite of the danger, has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. I hope that my example shows other soldiers that they, too, have the freedom and the duty to choose right over wrong.

In March 2003, I joined the military because I felt the pull of duty, service and patriotism. This was coming off of the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Upon enlisting, I did not believe an invasion of Iraq was fully justified but I believed the president's claims should be given the benefit of the doubt. I was willing to fight terrorism-but always within the extent of the law. At that time, I never imagined that our leader could betray the trust of the people over something as serious as war.

Since I learned of my coming deployment last year, I wanted to know everything about war-its history, its effects, and of course, this particular one. The books and articles I read would change my views forever. They exposed in detail the president's deliberate manipulation to initiate this war. Recent reports show us that this war is a debacle of enormous proportions and that there never was any just cause. I felt as though our lives were being wasted for nothing.

My mind and my moral compass were in turmoil. For me, the turning point came in January 2006. It was not the startling revelations of US Rep. Jack Murtha that swayed me. Nor was it the countless articles written by veterans, former officials, nongovernment agencies and journalists exposing the criminality of the war. Instead, I as a leader could no longer stand the pain and suffering of so many soldiers, families, and Iraqis on the basis of a lie. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way is not to add to the death and destruction. It is to help oppose this unlawful war and end it so that all soldiers can come home.

Never in my life did I ever imagine I would have to disobey my president. But I have come to the conclusion that participation in this war is not only immoral but a breach of American and international law. Article VI of the US Constitution makes all international treaties the law of the land. Therefore, the invasion and the continued fight against an indigenous insurgency are unlawful because they violate Article 2 of the UN Charter, UN General Assembly Resolution 3314, and the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter prohibiting wars of aggression.

The Congressional Authorization of Force against Iraq has no bearing because its basic premises are untrue. Furthermore, there is vast evidence of numerous violations of international conventions by occupation forces and occupier-trained forces. Though I may never be punished for these crimes, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse to take part in them.

1st Lt. Ehren Watada was born and raised in Honolulu. He wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Posted on: Sunday, June 18, 2006
http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/18/op/FP606180301.html


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