Thursday, June 08, 2006

Deserter or Dissenter? You decide

My husband was drafted into the Army in the '60's, but chose to go to the Air Force instead, for four years - 'his' choice. And, when it came time to go to Vietnam, he obeyed orders. We understood what the consequence could be, but we held on to faith that he would return. Never was there a thought of dereliction of duty!

So many men chose to skip their duty back then, and ran off to Canada, or deserted their base. But, the brave went to war, many of them lost their lives. And, today, we have an officer who is refusing to go to war in Iraq. But, one thing different here is the way he got into the service.
First Lt. Ehren K. Watada wasn't drafted, but chose to join the military. He knew what lay ahead; yet, he chose to go. But, now, when confronted with time in Iraq, he's decided it's not for him. In fact, when Watada found out he might have to be deployed, he sent a letter to his commander, wanting to resign, but was refused the opportunity to do so.

There is also vehement disagreement. Rebecca Davis, cofounder of Military Families Voice of Victory, issued a statement saying that "as a mother of three sons who have served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am demanding the Army prosecute Lt. Watada to the fullest extent under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Watada's refusal "will surely encourage al-Qaida in Iraq to continue terrorizing the Iraqi people and attacking U.S. and coalition forces," she said. Columnist Michelle Malkin called Watada a "deserter, not a dissenter," on her Web site.

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Hayes, with the Military Police Brigade at Schofield Barracks and a veteran of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, said he "could not hold" his tongue any longer.

"(Some) individuals are attempting to lift Lt. Watada up as some kind of hero or martyr, which in reality he is not. ... He is a dishonorable man and should be court-martialed," said Hayes, who said he was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the Army.

Watada's parents, attorney, supporters for him, and anti-war groups met in Hawaii's Capitol conference room. There were people who met to back him emotionally and vocally, but there were also those that did not uphold what he has done.

Watada's father said "we have to bring our troops home". He is saying that Vietnam was occupied until "members of the military stood up and said they were not going to fight any longer." But, his son's next step will be to refuse to board a plane when his troops are sent to Iraq. And, when he does, he will face a court-martial, and possible years in prison. Is it worth it?

Hal, over at The Bullwinkle Blog, has some great suggestions for Watada, since his father said he was 'very noble'.

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Nathan Bradfield said...

Barbara, thank you for this wonderful post. It's good to see people from your brave generation instructing this younger one on courage, duty, and responsibility. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - yes, this man should be court martialed. He took an oath - one that most who join the service take seriously. We depend on them to take it seriously. I remember taking that oath myself, perhaps he needs a refresher course on the UCMJ - it's not a joke. This man is no hero or martyr. I know heros, he is not one.

Barbara said...

Nathan, we were just brought up to believe that you carried out your commitments. You never thought about not obeying an order.

Blair, I agree with you. But, the liberals are going to give us lots of speeches on why he shouldn't be held to his commitment. But, I say, HE was the one who committed himself - nobody held a gun to his head. And, he understood the rules beforehand!