From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Fort Lewis this week will become ground zero for the peace movement. Activists have called for a national day of action today, when the court-martial of 28-year-old 1st Lt. Ehren Watada begins.
In the past year, Watada has become a lightning rod for the anti-war movement as the only known U.S. military officer to publicly refuse to be sent to Iraq. Peace groups and such celebrity activists as Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen have taken up the lieutenant’s cause.
Watada has stated that the war in Iraq is illegal and that he is duty-bound as an officer under international and military conventions to refuse unlawful orders. But his views against the war will mean little at his court-martial. A judge already has ruled that Watada cannot question the war’s legality as a defense.
When I joined the Army in the 1980s, the hardest question with which I grappled was a variation on this theme: What would I do if sent to support a military action I did not support. It never came up, but it was important to understand before signing on the proverbial dotted line.
Military service isn’t some trivial pursuit or an easy way to pick up some college funding.
I have to assume Lt. Watada asked himself the same questions, so I’m having trouble seeing how, in an all-volunteer military, this lieutenant can object to deployment on the grounds of the war’s legality.
Furthermore, if a judge has already ruled that he cannot, in fact, use that as his defense, this looks to be a foregone conclusion.
For all the similarities, both real and imagined, this is one of the ways Iraq is not Vietnam.
(Cross-posted at The Moderate Voice)