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June 07, 2006

The Next Phase of the Vietnamization of Iraq

So it has come to this, says Dan Kirkdorffer over at On the Road to 2008 in his first post on DailyKos. He's talking of course about the news that U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is refusing deployment to the unlawful Iraq war and occupation. Watada will announce his decision at noon today at press conferences in Tacoma, where he is stationed at Ft. Lewis, and in Honolulu where he is from. (The question of whether he can be in two places at once will be cleared up at that time; we think his family will be hosting the videofeed in Honolulu). The PI broke the story yesterday. As Dan says,

Lt. Ehren Watada is a brave man. He has taken on what will be as trying a fight as any he is protesting against participating in in Iraq. This war that was initiated by men who this country somehow rewarded by re-election two years ago, and that has been a disaster from the start, even while early appearances were that the quick dispatch of the Iraqi forces in the first three weeks might be harbingers of a promising future.

If you are up and around and so inclined, go give Dan's diary a recommend. This is an important story and terribly, achingly familiar to those of us who lived through the Vietnam War era.

Posted by Lynn Allen on June 7, 2006 at 07:00 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink


Lt. Watada is not a brave man; he is a coward and a liar, a fraud and a cheat. How interesting it is that he did not find the courage to turn down his commission, reject the benefits and leave the military from the get-go. Only now that his life might be endangered does he feel the war is illegitimate and immoral.

This is not about standing up for what one believes regarding the war. This is about keeping your word and and not abandoning your fellow soldiers.

I too am a Lieutenant in the US Army. Whether or not I agree with the war is my business and I keep it to myself, especially in a professional capacity. However, I signed on the line when I was commissioned; I made promises to the Army, my country and God. If a man will not hold his word,he is not much of a man and should not be trusted in combat, business, marriage or any other capacity.

Watada needs to be cortmartialed and if found guilty immediately tranfered to his new duty station - Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks.

Posted by: Fred Johnsen | Jun 7, 2006 8:59:05 AM

I understand the mixed feelings about a soldier's refusal to fight when they are asked to do so. However, I think we have to factor in that this was a preemptive war and that a heck of a lot of people, particularly US Senators made a mistake in backing this war.

So Lt. Watada may have made a mistake in enlisting; he may have been financially coerced, although, in this case, I'd guess not but many soldiers certainly have been. Does that mean he follows through on his initial commitment at the cost of participating in an unjust war, of being forced to kill or be killed?

This war is a disaster, short-term and long-term. Lt. Watada is likely just the first of many to come who will refuse to fight. I personally support him and support all who make the same decision in this unjust war.

Posted by: Lynn | Jun 7, 2006 9:14:02 AM

Again, this decision on Watada's part goes to a much deeper issue. Do you stand by committments you make as an adult or do you cut and run for whatever reason you feel is important. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be more and more common in the culture today - marriage too difficult, divorce; didn't intend to get pregnant, abortion; didn't plan to get your girlfriend pregnant, just split.

If Watada came to feel the war is wrong he could have quietly resigned his commission, While I would not condone this either, quiet resignation would have been a better middle ground that would have served both his conscience and preserved some sense of dignity.

As it stands, Watada's actions will not only impact the morale of his unit, but could bolster the resolve of the enemy (however you would like to define them).

Posted by: Fred Johnsen | Jun 7, 2006 9:41:30 AM

Refusing to fight a dirty, illegal, immoral war is hardly a stand taken lightly, Fred. And, by the way, neither are divorce or abortion.

Your comments are rather odious (and odorous.) My stepfather, a tailgunner in WWII, makes more sense on this war than you do - he thinks it's crime. Isn't knowingly participating in a crime just complicity?

Posted by: mickey | Jun 7, 2006 12:24:00 PM

The point I attempted to convey was this: Watada did not/does not have to participate in this “crime” as your grandfather calls it and as you seem to believe the war to be. However, by accepting a commission as an officer, Watada was in fact supporting the war and, if it is a crime, aiding in the commission of that crime. His participation does not/did not start with deployment but began when he became part of the organization engaged in that so-called crime.

It's not as if the war had just begun when Watada became an officer. The war had been going on for 10 months, as reported by the media. The intelligence used to support the war had already been called into question. The legality of the war had already been questioned and the shortcomings in handling the war had already emerged. So, any objection should have been clear and visible to a reasonable person. The time to make the decision about participating was before Watada raised his hand, not just before deployment.

While I honor your grandfather for his service, that service does not make him an expert on military affairs or international law. He holds an opinion (as do I and as do you). You, however, have made a failed attempt to gain vicarious credibility for your argument by invoking your grandfather and his service. This is quite a common mistake (and tactic) when making an argument. A short course in Aristotelian logic might help you in the future.

Since you are opposed to the war, and this is your right, and I applaud you for exercising that right, any further discussion on this matter would prove pointless.

I do wish you and your granfather all the best, though we might disagree on the war and Watada.

Posted by: Fred Johnsen | Jun 7, 2006 2:09:26 PM

Mickey, my apologies for citing your stepfather as your grandfather in the previous post. I was typing in another program and was not looking directly at your post, while typing.

Posted by: Fred Johnsen | Jun 7, 2006 2:14:47 PM

Fred you are completely worng about most everything you said. The sad thing in this country right now is that people like you think that a soldier has to fight in a war even if that war is found to be illegal. NO, an officer does not endorse any war by just becoming an officer. An officers oath is to the Constitution, something that a lot of people in this country have forgotten about.

And also, Watada did silently submit his resignation TWICE and it was disapproved. What most civilians and a lot of military people forget is that our military is supposed to protect our country, our laws, and out constitution. Our military was made to be a defensive one, not an aggressive offensive one. Knowing now that the initial reasons to go to war was a lie and Iraq was no threat to us, explain how our troops over there are protecting us and our rights?

Basically, what you and a lot of other people are saying is that our military is meant to be a lot of braindead minions doing the bidding of the president no matter the consequences to the nation as a whole. Do you stand by this? And if you think that Iraq is not a bad war, can't you at least see how establishing this line of thinking could have detrimental effects if continued to future wars that may be even more overtly illegal? Do you want mercenaries or stewards of our democracy and constitution?

Posted by: military spouse | Jun 8, 2006 3:55:12 AM

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