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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Army Officer Refuses to Deploy

I have been aware of this story for some time, but I don't think it has yet been discussed on Fumare, so here goes:


A young US army officer could face court martial after refusing to obey orders to prepare for deployment to Iraq, claiming the war is illegal, his supporters said.

Lieutenant Ehren Watada, 28, was confined to his base of Fort Lewis, in the northwest state of Washington, and restricted from communications with anyone outside but his lawyer, according to people in Watada's support committee.

They said he was the first US military officer to refuse orders to go to Iraq.

Watada's mother Carolyn Ho called his refusal an "act of patriotism."

"As an officer, he believes it is his duty to disobey illegal orders," she told AFP, adding that they had argued over his decision and that he was influenced by questions about the US government's reasons for invading Iraq.


Apparently, Watada does not oppose all war (in which case, he would qualify as a Conscientious Objector and the military would not have permitted him to join) and simply views this war as unjust. He has stated:

"I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to 'stay the course.' I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression.

"I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home."

My Comments: When Lieutenant Watada signed up to join the U.S. Army, he swore the following oath:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." [emphasis added]

Lieutenant Watada was not drafted and he took this oath voluntarily. If he wants to exercise his conscience and not accept his deployment, he will have to face the legal conseqences of his actions, including the possibility of a court martial.

Though I think this matter is cut and dry, my opinion is not shared by a number of faithful Catholics. See Matt Abbott's June 8, 2006 column.