Lt. Ehren Watada
I would ask that people look at this situation with an open mind. It is a provocative issue, a polarizing issue in many ways. Neither side should be discounted out of hand, which is why I'm including his statement, encourage people to discuss it and will try to lay out my feelings on this as a liberal, a patriotic American and Marine (there is no such thing as former Marine).
It is a very brave thing he is doing. He must know how it will end. We are a country of laws but he must understand and should understand that when you sign up for duty in the US Armed Forces, you relinquish some of those rights.
He signed up for duty after we invaded Iraq. This is an all-volunteer force. So any sympathy I would have had had he been on active duty before we went to Iraq don't count in this situation. Be that as it may, once you sign up, your duty is to do your duty. You can be a participant in a so-called illegal war, do your duty and not commit war crimes, as he alleges he would be doing.
He should have chosen to be a conscientious objector as a civilian, not as an active duty member of the military. He can call it a breech of American law, but not while he's on duty, especially an officer, a leader of men.
Joining the military takes a lot of soul searching; and again, given that we were already involved in Iraq before he joined, he had plenty of information with which to search his soul. This kind of second guessing by officers is what gets those who are supposed to follow him innocently killed.
I felt very strongly before we went to Iraq that we shouldn't have gone to Iraq; that the reasons the American public were given for going were deceiptful at best. But I can tell you this: Had I still be on active duty at the time we went, I would have done my duty, followed those orders that were legal (which would've been 99.999999% of them); and honored my commitment and my country, and then came home and done a much better job and honorable job of objecting to this war.
That's as even handed as I can be about it.
conscientious objector Iraq war Watada officer war crimes duty