This article in The New York Times came up on the Google news page yesterday when I logged on and I decided to read further. The story is about the court-martial of First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada, an Army Officer who has refused to go to Iraq on grounds that the war is illegal. I think it's an interesting issue.
On the one hand, as American citizens, we pride ourselves on our First Amendment right to protest our government's actions. On the other hand, to what extent do members of the military retain that right? By refusing to go to Iraq, is he exercising Free Speech responsibly or is he breaking a commitment he made voluntarily?
I have not yet been able to take a position either way. My realm of experience includes those who joined the U.S. Armed Forces before 9/11 and after and therefore have different views and experiences. I also have my own personal views on the war, some of which coincide with Watada's. However, I also have strong opinions on making informed decisions and abiding by the consequences of those decisions. Yes, we are all allowed to change our minds, but if there are ramifications to our actions, should we not be willing to accept them? Perhaps it is easier for me to theorize, given that my life is not endangered by this issue.
For more information on First Lt. Watada's court-martial, see here.
Following is an interesting movie presenting views on this issue: