Thursday, June 29, 2006

Soldiers Refusing to Participate in "Illegal and Immoral War"


Ret. Col. Ann Wright
June 27, 2006

Col. Ann Wright served in the U.S. Army for 13 years and in the U.S. Army Reserves for 16 years. She also served for 16 years in the U.S. diplomatic corps, and in that capacity helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001. She received the State Department’s Award for Heroism as the acting U.S. ambassador during the rebel takeover of Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1997.

June 27 was a National Day of Action in support of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who, on June 22, refused an order to deploy with his unit to Iraq.

Watada said he could not participate in an “illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. My oath of office is to protect and defend America’s laws and its people. By refusing unlawful orders for an illegal war, I fulfill that oath.”

Watada’s refusal to deploy to Iraq raises ethical, moral and legal questions, not only for him, but for other military personnel as well as for civilians. He believes the war on Iraq is a violation of international and domestic law and is therefore illegal. Watada says that as a military officer of honor and integrity he must refuse an order to participate in an illegal act.

Watada joins 10 other members of the U.S. military who—as a matter of conscience—have refused to either go to Iraq or to return there and have been court-martialed for their actions. Two are currently in prison for their stands. In addition, over 200 U.S. military personnel have gone to Canada to avoid being sent to Iraq, nine of whom have gone public with their war resistance. Over 6,400 U.S. military are absent without leave (AWOL), while thousands who have returned from AWOL have been given administrative discharges instead of courts-martial. The military has not provided information on whether those who have turned themselves in were AWOL due to opposition to the war.

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