|Posted on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 04:03 pm: ||
“Indeed, the state of the American soldier is worse than that of a mercenary. For a soldier-for-hire can walk away if they are disgusted by their employer's actions. Instead, especially when it comes to war, American soldiers become indentured servants whether they volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation” – Lt. Ehren Watada............
Lieutenant Ehren Watada was the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq and he has since become a prominent figure in the anti-war movement. Watada graduated from college and joined the Army, going to Officer Candidate School after the United States initiated Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Lt. Watada was an artillery officer assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis, Washington. He proposes a radical idea: to stop what he believes is an illegal and unjust war; soldiers can simply choose to stop fighting it.
Watada delivered a speech at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in August, 2006. In his speech, Watada criticized our government as “authoritarian” and advocated dedication to the Constitution and not to our elected leadership. On February 5, 2007, Watada faced a court-martial on charges of "missing movement," "conduct unbecoming an officer," and "use of contemptuous words for the President." Three days later the judge declared a mistrial because Watada, according to the judge, "did not fully understand a document he signed admitting to elements of the charges." Watada’s retrial is set to begin in mid-July.
This concept of “just stop fighting and the war will end” is not new. In order to entice soldiers from participating in the Viet Nam war, protest slogans like “What if they threw a war and nobody showed up?” were developed. Radical leftists have called on soldiers to turn on their leadership in order to hasten a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Their propaganda is found in Lt. Watada’s comments. This line of thinking is flawed and dangerous. Mutiny on the part of our armed forces would do irreparable damage to our constitutional form of government, the same Constitution Watada claims to have such reverence for.
Where do you draw the line? Should Union soldiers have stopped fighting because they did not want to kill Americans? Should our sailors and marines have stopped fighting the Barbary Pirates because it was so far away from home? Should we allow our soldiers to choose when or who to fight, or shouldn’t we? Even small scale dissent in the ranks that reduces order and discipline would do serious damage to our armed forces, abet the enemy and cost lives. Lt Watada makes other untrue statements. Even though no military draft exists, he says “…volunteer out of patriotism or are drafted through economic desperation,” the insinuation being that only the desperately poor or the blindly patriotic would enlist; a line right out of the anti-war playbook and patently false.
A solidly apolitical military serves the country’s best interest. A military establishment involved in the U.S. political sphere is counter to our concept of elected representation. Our civilian representatives have the authority to run the republic and make decisions on our behalf because we chose them. Our chosen leaders then appoint our senior military leaders. Intelligent Americans know that our military must respect and obey the elected civilian authority we established as citizens. Watada’s assertion that a soldier’s duty “supersedes the ideologies of their leadership” undermines that respect and ignores the fact that American executive power comes from a mandate from its citizens.
The U.S. military should not be involved in the political wisdom of military engagements. They should also not be involved in determining the merits of one political decision or another. Perhaps most importantly, the military must never be in the business of appraising the virtues of their Commander-in-Chief. The military should only advise civilian leaders on use of military force, its implications and consequences.
Individual military members should and do have their own private political views. But being a member of the Armed Forces does not entitle them to publicize views that hinder or influence our constitutional process. Insubordinate objectors who try to alter our definition of the civil-military relationship cannot be tolerated. Countries around the world have suffered military intervention into internal politics that inevitably resulted in violence, bloodshed and societal collapse.
The successful accomplishment of military objectives requires the proper interaction of leading and following from generals to privates. Watada may not have bought into the President’s vision on Iraq because he did not intellectually agree. He did not deploy to Iraq and placed his personal convictions over his orders. As Sun-Tzu said in his book The Art of War:
“But when the army is restless and distrustful, trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away.”
Given the military’s job of fight and win, I’d say that rancorous dissenters contribute to the aforementioned flinging.
From the first day of basic training our military men and women are taught “followership.” It is instilled in our service members in a variety of methods and it is a benchmark of good order and discipline. As a follower, our service members develop their leadership skills and eventually take their place as leaders after observing and participating in the leader-follower culture and process. If a soldier is not good follower, how can they be deemed a good leader? A leader has to be credible. An erosion of discipline manifested in a follower will be plain on their record and in their character. Another Sun-Tzu quote from The Art of War:
“The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success”
Our moral law is based in the Constitution, the President is clearly the Commander in Chief as ascribed by Article II, Section 2 and our government is constitutionally required “To Provide for the Common Defence…” Method and discipline is taken from the Uniform Code of Military Justice, either Article 92 or Article 94. Since Watada and his kind seem the type to view lines in a parking lot as gentle suggestions, we should review the “written in stone” substance of these articles:
ART. 92. FAILURE TO OBEY ORDER OR REGULATION
Any person subject to this chapter who--
(1) Violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation;
(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or
(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties; shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
894. ART. 94. MUTINY OR SEDITION
(a) Any person subject to this chapter who--
(1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;
(2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;
(3)(b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court- martial may direct.
Now is probably a good time to review the oaths our soldier’s pledge:
For the enlisted:
"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." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
For the officers:
"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
In a call to perfidy, Watada has asked our troops to break their oaths, abandon discipline, and refuse to execute their orders. He does not understand the enemy we now face or the Islamic world view of domination. He appears unaware of infiltration by Syrian and Iranian based Islamic fascists into Iraq. After absolutely breaking faith with the people he swore an oath to lead, Watada expects soldiers to abandon their collective honor for his personal morality.
I would expect Tokyo Rose to broadcast this kind of poison, or someone that doesn’t know the meaning of loyalty, discipline and justice. This is a commissioned officer in our armed forces; a person looked to for leadership and discipline. He should be aware of the fundamental reasons why we are over there. Our military has been charged with protecting Iraq from anarchy to usher in an era of political enlightenment for millions of people. Beyond that, we are thwarting an Iranian/Shiite led insurgency that would leave millions in thrall to ideological tyrants under an Islamic caliphate. As declared by Osama Bin Laden in an audio message to Muslims in late 2004:
"I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers [Iraq]. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate."
Islamic ideologues advocate the extinction of liberty and submission of the world to Allah. This ideological leadership comes primarily from the Middle East and inspires terrorists to act in the name of God worldwide. They call on Muslims to form groups and carry the Jihad to every corner of the world. The decentralized nature of these radical Islamic cells promotes autonomous operations as evidenced by the plot on Fort Dix and JFK airport. The establishment of a secular Iraqi government is a menace to the ideologues because it will deny the continued expansion of their influence. The threat is so great, the Islamists have demonized the United States as “the Great Satan” and are bent on our destruction as indicated in a speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah on Beirut Al-Manar Television in September 2002:
"Let the entire world hear me. Our hostility to the Great Satan [United States] is absolute. … I conclude my speech with the slogan that will continue to reverberate on all occasions so that nobody will think that we have weakened. Regardless of how the world has changed after 11 September, Death to America will remain our reverberating and powerful slogan: Death to America."
Islamic fascists are focused on world domination. They are not interested in peace talks and treaties. This is clearly stated by Iranian President Ahmadinejad in a speech aired on Tehran Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television in August of 2006:
"And you, for your part, if you would like to have good relations with the Iranian nation in the future, recognize the Iranian nation's right. Recognize the Iranian nation's greatness. And bow down before the greatness of the Iranian nation and surrender. If you don't accept [to do this], the Iranian nation will later force you to surrender and bow down."
Like Watada, many of our politicians advocate a cut and run strategy that could kill thousands of our military personnel. Having an en masse withdrawal requires planning and coordination to protect retrograding forces. Beyond the immediate tactical disaster of a hurried retreat, Iraq would be a long term national security disaster. The current Iraqi regime would be a failed state and the resulting chaos could slide into a wider Middle East war. The new Iraqi al Qaeda safe haven would be a base to export trained terrorists and Islamic propagandists. A radical Iraqi regime would be a threat to oil production and exportation. Further, a U.S. defeat would discourage our friends, embolden our foes and erode our influence in world affairs. We must remind ourselves that when one path is rocky and difficult there is no guarantee another path is easily traversed. Though the road ahead is hard, a planned withdrawal on our terms under an established Iraqi government is the only way to ensure an effective security handover. To precipitously withdraw would create chaos and soldiers who “throw down their weapons” will be hostages.
Is the war our soldiers’ fault? War is not of our soldiers’ choosing and it never is. The mission is what the military executes. In 1999, President Clinton sent our military to counter the ethnic cleansing of Albanian Muslims by Milosevic’s forces during Operation ALLIED FORCE. A few misguided soldiers’ opinions of President Clinton’s politics did not define the professionalism applied to Operation ALLIED FORCE nor should similar opinions of President Bush’s policies define Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. If our military personnel allow their politics to get in the way of moral duty the U.S. military will take a form we don’t even want to imagine. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard follow the orders of the Commander-In-Chief, not personal whims. It’s how we defend our national sovereignty. To do anything else is an erosion of our values and the honor of our Armed Forces.
An examination of all American wars will reveal they are vastly different, separated by time and circumstances. There were many arguments pro and con concerning the U.S. entrance into those wars. However, the American Armed Force’s job is simply this: fight and win. The objectives, methods and politics are different, but the soldier’s fundamental job is to fight and win. That’s what links our heroes together; the American Occupation of Arms shares one valiant purpose: defend our nation. The politics behind the decision to go to war should not be their concern. Our Armed Forces defend the constitution and the nation, subordinate to our lawfully elected leadership. Again, our Grand Nation elects those leaders. Watada has the opportunity to vote as he wishes. However, he does not have the right to subvert his leaders, comrades, or his soldiers.
Our military people are my heroes. If I ever miss an opportunity to thank you personally when I greet you on the street, I apologize. It’s been said before, but I will tell you again from my heart: Thank you for serving our country. Watada and his kind do not tarnish you in my eyes because I know cowards hide among the mighty. They are not heroes; they are self serving seditionists that sap our strength and unity. I hope when Lt. Watada’s trial finally finishes, he gets what he deserves.
|Posted on Saturday, June 23, 2007 - 08:25 pm: ||
Born with the gift of laughter, aware that the world is mad. -- Jimbo