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Ehren Watada -- Cowardice or Courage?

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I received this in response to an article I sent out about Ehren Watada. The army officer who has refused to ship-out to Iraq with his unit:

You obviously do not understand the nature of the military. Imagine if every Soldier decided on their own what was right/legal or what is justified action for war. If we allowed that, we would have no Army and eventually no country. Same as a gang member; if one member decided to not commit to the actions of his leader, that member would be ousted or ostracizes or even killed on the spot. Do you remember the movie "La M". 1st LT Watada is a coward and hiding his actions on righteous talk. Trust me, the military will prosecute.

As far as ordering him not to speak to the press. . . IT IS AN ORDER...plain and simple. As an officer, he has influence over enlisted members of which is authorized by the Secretary of State who has entrusted LT Watada with this rank. LT Watada broke that trust of which he will be dealt with. Military personnel do not have rights as civilians do and I would suspect that civilians do not and cannot understand that unless they have served. The military is controlled mainly by trust and influence. If you alter that balance by allowing any officer to oppose war of speak to the press, you'd be allowing the first steps in weakening our country's military might of which keeps us all safe

I"ve served in Iraq, and I do not have the right to speak out against the war. I joined with the knowledge and understanding of obligations and that I may be called in Arms way. BELIEF IS BESIDE the point; the LT had a job to do, and he refused. Back in the old Army, he would have been sentenced to 10 years without question.

CPT Coronado


This was my response:

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You wrote the biggest hole in your argument, with the biggest letters, yourself.

Soldiers in the German and Japanese armies during World War II used the same argument.
Are we cattle, and are the oaths we take like the yokes put on cattle to control their movements? Are we then expected to no longer think for ourselves? Are we then expected to do our master's bidding without resistance or complaint? Are we then free of responsibility for anything we do?

This would seem like real cowardice to me.

Ehren Watada took an oath. He then realized that the oath was a mistake. Now he is willing to suffer the consequences of breaking that oath.

In the end, he will be able to live with his choice, without guilt, remorse, justification, or rationalization.
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You liken the military to a gang. This is not very flattering to the military. Personally I have no respect for gangs, or what gangs do. The so-called honor of gangs is no honor to me. The honor of a man's individual conscience is more important to me.

You mention the balance of trust and influence that helps to maintain control in the military, and thus maintains our military might and keeps us safe. The balance of trust and control starts with honorable, ethical, and moral leadership. If the leaders up the chain of command are correct in their leading, their influence with, and the trust of, the rank and file will be confirmed by the loyalty and good service of that rank and file.
If there is no real honor at the top, the rank and file, at the bottom, will break. Because honorable men in the ranks will be forced to follow their conscience in order to save their souls.

Those who stubbornly maintain a false sense of honor, will find themselves thrown on the ash-heap of history as nothing more than honorable, but foolish, men who sold their honor to dishonorable leaders -- men who did not have the courage to stand for something greater than unquestioned loyalty to a questionable cause.

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Jim Bush is a 67 year old, Vietnam-era veteran, currently living in Texas. He was raised in a military family. His father received the Silver Star for directing troops while under air attack at Clark Field in the Phillipines, survived the Bataan (more...)

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