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Ruth Rosen: Military Opposition - Bravery by Another Name

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In her column for Talking Points Memo Cafe, Ruth Rosen acknowledges the courage of Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to publicly oppose the war in Iraq.

For those of a certain age, it’s impossible to forget all the brave soldiers who decided they would not fight ­or continue to fight---in Vietnam. Once they were there, some realized it was a war without end, a war without an exit and a war against ordinary people, rather than an enemy. Arguably, their opposition and open rebellion in the field was more decisive in ending the war than all the marches put together by the anti-movement.

Is it happening again? This morning, June 22nd, First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the highest-ranking soldier to defect from the Iraq war to date, refused orders to fly to Iraq. Watada believes the war and occupation are illegal and therefore refuses to join the military effort in that country.

The military has placed a complete gag order on Lt. Watada, which not allow him, like Cindy Sheehan, to speak about his opposition to the war. Eric Seitz, his attorney, is challenging the gag order and told the press, “We will immediately challenge these highly questionable and improper restrictions.” Good luck.

Lt. Watada is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to war in Iraq. But he joins a growing list of West Point graduates and current and former Generals of the armed service who have voiced their profound opposition to the war effort.

In January 2006, Lt. Watada asked to resign his commission because, as he then stated, “I am whole-heartedly 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. Lt. Watada faces court-martial charges and apparently will defend himself by declaring the war and occupation to be illegal. Supporters of Lt. Watada have declared June 27th a national day of action in support of his action. It is being coordinated through the website www.ThankYouLt.org and will be held in many American cities. (Check the site for listings and more information.)

What he’s done takes genuine bravery. This is a soldier who deserves our support, expressed with the very same dignity and decency with which he has opposed the illegal war and occupation of Iraq.


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