I can't decide how I feel about this
Lieutenant Watada has refused to serve in Iraq and is about to face a court-martial as a result.
On Jan. 25, “with deep regret,” he delivered a passionate two-page letter to his brigade commander, Col. Stephen J. Townsend, asking to resign his commission. “Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership,” Lieutenant Watada wrote.
A year ago Lieutenant Watada was still prepared to deploy to Iraq, but was beginning to have his doubts. He considered it his duty to do some research and learn as much as possible about the situation. He read several books and spoke to returning soldiers, one of whom confessed that he and his men had 'probably committed war crimes.'
I can't decide how I feel about this because, on the one hand, it makes sense that you can't just let soldiers decide on a case-by-case basis which wars/conflicts they're going to fight in. On the other hand, Lieutenant Watada has a pretty good response to that argument:
But, he wrote to Colonel Townsend, he owed his allegiance to a “higher power” — the Constitution — based on the values the Army had taught him: “loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”
I respect that this soldier is willing to stand up for his beliefs and pay the potential price for doing so. He's not trying to evade punishment nor is he claiming conscientious objector status, because he's honest that it isn't war generally that he disagrees with but the war in Iraq specifically (he requested to be sent to Afghanistan but was turned down).
Perhaps if more individuals had such strength of their convictions (and the luxury to stand by them and afford the deprivation of pay) in the future we can avoid such situations. Because really, shouldn't that be the goal? To not have to worry about soldiers deciding on a case-by-case basis which war they agree with because every conflict the army immerses itself in is defendable? That once you sign on to the philosophy of being a soldier, you can hold both your own personal principles and the army's principles and goals and actions without conflict?