Just Saying No
by Debbie Clark
at a press conference at the King Center, Atlanta, Georgia, June
It is my great
honor and duty to be here today to share with others my support
for the action of First Lieutenant Ehren Watada in disobeying an
unlawful order to serve in a war that is both immoral and illegal,
as well as to show my support for all military service members and
their families who are now resisting this war.
refusal to obey orders to deploy to Iraq with his unit was not made
lightly. It came about through much soul-searching and research
that led him to the irreversible conclusion that to participate
in this unlawful war of aggression would make him an accomplice
to a criminal act.
is the first commissioned officer to refuse orders to Iraq and is
also the first soldier to do so who is not a conscientious objector.
His decision is based on legal grounds as well as moral, with the
recognition that a soldier has not only the duty to obey all lawful
orders, but also has the moral and legal obligation to disobey any
mother described her son as having "an unflinching commitment
to his men and to democratic ideals" and said that he believes
that he can best serve them by taking a stand against the war.
doing," she said, "he demonstrates that one does not relinquish
the freedom to choose what is right, even in the military, and that
the freedom to choose what is right transcends the allegiance to
man and institutions."
is doing the right thing. As a US Army veteran myself of eight years
active duty, with five years in the military police and three years
as a special agent in the US Army Criminal Investigation Command;
as a former soldier who remembers very well being explicitly trained
by the Army that it is the duty of a soldier to disobey any unlawful
order and to comply with the Geneva Convention, I honor Lt. Watada
for the courage to be true to his conscience and true to his oath
of office as a commissioned officer to support and defend the Constitution
and bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
participate in an unjust and illegal war is an act of conscience
that is also an affirmation of the rule of law. No soldier owes
absolute allegiance to any military system. The legal authority
of military command is grounded in the rule of law, which is based
on the Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
has requirements for what branch of government has the power to
declare war and for what purpose – which is specified as being for
the defense of the United States and also makes any treaties adopted
by the United States the law of the land.
There is a
point at which one’s conscience and understanding of the US Constitution,
the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Geneva
Conventions, requires an individual to make the conscious decision
to obey or not to obey what he believes to be an unlawful order.
courage, Lt. Watada made that decision.
There is one
veteran who was not able to be here today to show his support for
Lt. Watada, but who would have liked to. He is a veteran of Operation
Desert Shield and Desert Storm, now retired, US Air Force Major
Kelley G. Culver, of Augusta, GA.
has provided a statement in support of Lt. Watada, which I will
relay on his behalf:
I was commander of an Air Force Combat Communication Squadron
deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Shield and Desert
Storm. At the time of the deployment, I was opposed to the war
because it was obvious that the true reason was not the liberation
of Kuwait from Iraq, but the protection of American oil interests
in the Persian Gulf.
purpose of this war was obvious. The US had been a supporter of
Saddam Hussein’s government in the years prior to the war, and
had previously turned a blind eye to Hussein’s activities. Suddenly
in 1990, the United States was outraged at his actions. We went
to war on a tapestry of lies.
war in Iraq was also started on a tapestry of lies. Neither the
situation in 1990 nor the situation today justifies the loss of
American military men and women.
I opposed the war in the Persian Gulf, but I deployed and served
in spite of my objections. My reasons, simply put, were that I
had a career at stake. To refuse to deploy would have ended that
career. I was not willing to pay that price.
assemble in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, who realizing the illegal
nature of the war in Iraq, has chosen to do what I could not do
16 years ago. People will call him a coward for his actions, but
I can assure you, this is the action of a brave man.
Today I add
my support to the cause of Lt. Watada and I thank him for taking
the stand that I was unable to take myself.
G. Culver, Major, USAF (Retired)
can especially understand how hard of a path it is that Lt. Watada
has taken, because, whether we served in war or during peacetime,
we know what it means to live and serve under military authority.
hard it may be to stand up, any active duty service member today,
whose conscience has been moved by what he or she knows in their
heart to be wrong, can also take strength in knowing that the very
same military authority that requires them to obey all lawful orders,
also, if it is true to its own code, imposes upon them the obligation
to disobey all unlawful orders.
Clark [send her email] served
eight years active duty in the US Army, is a former US Army criminal
investigator, and the founder of Greater Atlanta Chapter 125 of
Veterans For Peace. She has two daughters and one son-in-law.
© 2006 LewRockwell.com