Thursday, August 17, 2006

With Lt. Watada's Case, GI Resistance Grows

Sarah Olson reports over at alternet: Inspired by US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, a growing number of GIs are resisting orders, going to jail, or going AWOL.

28-year-old Lieutenant Watada disobeyed deployment orders on June 22, several weeks after announcing his opposition to the war at a press conference. He is charged with six violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: one count of missing troop movement, two counts of speaking contemptuously toward officials, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. An Article 32 hearing is scheduled for Thursday, August 17, to decide whether to proceed with a general court-martial. If tried and convicted, Lieutenant Watada could face over seven years in prison.

The Military would have us believe that Lt. Watada is the lone voice of dissent, but that is simply not true. There is a growing number of soldiers who are speaking out, and refusing orders; and in all likelihood, an undetermined number of others who feel they cannot speak out regardless of their position against this war.

Clifton Hicks, an Army Tank Driver, talks about what he calls the "wedding party incident." His unit was on patrol when they heard shooting between US armed forces and what they thought were Iraqi insurgents. While Hicks prepared to go house to house in search of the enemy, what he discovered instead was a wedding. Some of the men had been shooting rifles into the air, as is customary during family parties and celebrations. Three people from the wedding were shot; a 6-year-old girl was killed. When the platoon sergeant called the command center to report the incident, "all they said to us was 'Charlie Mike,' a stupid Army acronym for continue mission."

Hicks says, "What struck me most was just how callous we had become."

He eventually filed for and received conscientious objector status. Hicks now believes the only patriotic thing to do is to oppose this war.

Lt. Watada is a true hero, because he knows well the consequences of speaking out. Lt. Watada speaks for me. I hope he speaks for all America, and quickly.

13 comments:

Lew Scannon said...

Any idiot can wave a flag and follow the crowd, but for someone to risk jail for their beliefs is the sign of a very brave patriot.

DivaJood said...

Lew, he really stepped forward, and has become a real example for other soldiers. As a Lieutenant, he shows the others what's right. I'm in awe of his courage.

Tina said...

Although my dad doesn't discuss his time in Vietnam, he has increasingly been saying as of late that he expects to see more troops refusing to fight this war. I asked him why and he said: Those kids know for a fact that they are sitting ducks in the middle of a civil war and that their govt is using them and keeps lying to them and the world. What reason do they have to obey orders at this point?
I didn't have an answer to that.

glenda said...

me too, divajood, me too.
Courage has given way to brainnumbing conformity...

sumo said...

I agree...they should go with what is in their heart. Even though he had joined and was a soldier...not deployed yet...he knew he couldn't go forward with it. It's hard to stand up and be vilified by practically everyone. I'd written about Watada myself in June and an experience first hand of a friend who went to prison rather than go to Viet Nam. It's a very sad thing now...like it was back then.

DivaJood said...

Tina, most of the Vets I know who saw combat don't discuss Nam. Those who didn't see combat tend to talk about it more. And your father is right. The troops know they are pawns in a losing game, in an illegal war.

Glenda, I believe we will see more Lt. Watadas.

Sumo, I remember your post about him in June. Yesterday was his hearing - so far, I haven't seen what the result is or if it is still being heard.

karena said...

I hope and pray every day that more and more refuse to continue this illegal war. Sure, they will spend some time in jail, but they will live and not kill others, and come out better humans in the end.

DivaJood said...

Karena, those that spend time in jail shouldn't - that's a crime in itself. I feel more outrage than I did as a 20 something and we were in Viet Nam.

karena said...

Diva,
So right you are. That should be a crime to lock someone up for not committing a government endorsed and sanctioned crime.

Kati said...

I'm not an American, but as a human being I feel the agony and the senselessness of the violence is breaking my heart. Instead of opening his heart and seeing the misery American and British foreign policy has created in many parts of the world, Bush is throwing fuel on the fire and trying at every turn to justify a brutal act of aggression.

DivaJood said...

Kati, Bush's policies are wrong, regardless of what citizenship you hold. His is a policy that believes in "shoot first, aim later." Dangerous.

Helen Wheels said...

Lt. Watada is as brave as they come. Can you imagine what sort of threats this guy must live with on a daily basis? I can't.

BRAVE as all get-out.

DivaJood said...

Lt. Watada is living under the threat of prison, for refusing to participate in what he knows to be an illegal and immoral war. My hero, in truth.