Lieutenant Ehren Watada faces a court marshall February 5 on charges of refusal to redeploy to Iraq and “conduct unbecoming an officer” (i.e. he publicly criticized the Bush administration for launching an illegal war in Iraq). The first charge carries a sentence of up to 2 years in prison and the second an additional four. Watada has been denied the right to bring witnesses to testify on his behalf on the basis that the decision to go to war is “political” and not “military” and, thus, exempt from the defense that Watada is defying an order that he claims violates both his Constitutional rights of free speech and international legal conventions:

An interesting implication here. During WW2 German soldiers were also denied the right to protest fighting in an illegal Nazi war because a Vatican pronouncement (eventually reversed at the Second Vatican Council) had disallowed individuals the right to declare a war illegal — only a state waging one could do so. Unhappily Pope Pius XII (unlike his immediate predecessor) concurred and was subsequently criticized for his silent toleration of the Nazi horrors, including the Holocaust:

What, then, we are seeing in the prosecution of Lieutenant Watada is a replay of the Nazi defense which denied selective conscientious objector status to German soldiers protesting a particular unjust war.

Watada is not a conscientious objector (to all wars) and has offered to serve in Afghanistan as an alternative to Iraq.

And so it goes with American justice?
P.S. In a recent case parallel to that of Watada’s the German government accepted the right of a German soldier to refuse service in Iraq on the basis that the war there violated international conventions.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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