Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Trial Starts for Officer Who Refused to Go to Iraq

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:


h2o_Mar said...

Your right that this issue is more complicated than one side or the other. I appreciate that you acknowledge that your view is different because your not endangered or in the officer's shoes. I think that we should have the ability to change our minds, but the question is whether accountability should come into play here. Personally I would never join the military because I know I couldn't be stuck or trapped by that sort of commitment. I think he should have thought of this before he joined, especially since we where already at war when he joined.

JfloG said...

Even though you are not directly endangered by this issue I do think that you are indirectly effected by this case in one way or another. Not neccesarily with him possibly being charged, but with the war itself. It is your right to believe in something and it is his as well. Im not sure what point I was trying to make, but thats ok. This gentleman sighned part of his rights to the military. Mind changing is not what he is worried about. He is arguing against the military, his country and the decision making of his president and leader. This kind of activity is not acceptable as a militarty man.

Ruairaidh said...

So Jflog, I'm curious to know if you're saying that because he's in the military he shouldn't be speaking out against the war. Do I understand you correctly?

JfloG said...

Not at all. Just speaking of the problems with our military. Or limitations our military puts on its personnel