Wednesday, February 07, 2007


The latest report on the Watada trial is on Truthout ( in an article by Bill Simpich and Scott Galindez.

Three points strike me. First, that 1st. Lt. Watada’s comments that “to stop an unjust and illegal war the soldiers can choose to stop fighting it” are characterized by the prosecution (and thus the Army itself) as “disgraceful”. That Watada is actually stating LESS than what this country declared at Nuremberg (i.e. that soldiers MUST refuse to participate in illegal and unjust military orders) escapes the Army’s notice. That had this country chosen to discover Wehrmacht personnel who had chosen to stop fighting because they judged the war to be unjust it might well have given them a ticker-tape parade. (Well, the old ‘America’ would have; the postwar National Security State might well have had them bumped off; the Nazi rocket scientists were quickly absolved and baptized into the cause of democracy, almost as easily as Pastor Haggard – the crystal meth having apparently worn off – has just declared himself to be heterosexual without a doubt; he is, of course, certain that he is “saved”, nor do his colleagues find any reason to disagree.)

Second, that there indeed is a God and that He worketh in mysterious ways – or, as Tolkien noted, the evil that evil entities do oft works to assist the good folk who oppose evil. Having exposed and compromised himself irretrievably by tossing out almost every witness and argument the defense hoped to introduce, the military judge – the marvelously-monnikered Judge Head – was confronted with the bald fact that his own prosecutors then went and opened the door for the key elements of the tossed material to come back into play. They brought in a military ethics expert who, following Watada’s own commanding officer, opined that officers were under no obligation to follow orders that they think are unjust and illegal. Was this military fact news to Judge Head? If so … ? If not …?

Third, that this ethics expert, Dr. Swain, incidentally brought up an old ghost: the ghost of court-martial as an ideal, the professional convening of competent practitioners to discover fact. Swain said “If they [officers who decide an order is illegal] make that determination, they have to be right. If they’re not right, they have to expect to be held accountable.” A court-martial would be convened to determine that fact. This ideal vision is hell-and-gone from the show Judge Head is running (no doubt under orders, unspoken but clear): this is a kabuki exercise the object of which is to declare the defendant guilty and get on with it. For which purpose, ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ (whatever that might be, as Governor Pilate pithily put it) will only get in the way, will only un-simplify and de-clarify what should be an open-and-closed case: What is Truth? We’ll have none of that here, gentlemen! Harrrrrrumph, Harrrrrrumph! Truth is a slam-dunk! Convict him and we will be greeted as liberators! Ach ja!

The current military-justice approach as it has evolved (or devolved) is now the model for civilian justicial praxis throughout the land. In so becoming it has created a monstrous threat to the Republic and to the American ethos and to The People … this is a truth, a reality, that is only just starting to reveal itself. Prosecutors all over the country dream of being able to do it the military way: just reach out and grab somebody and – the amenities having been decently observed – slam-dunk the conviction and get on with it.

Far far far too many folks on the Left and on the Right think that this is a good idea. Woe to the Republic because of them.

But the presence and the active inquiry of the media has opened a path, a Landing Zone. And along that path Truth may march. Glory hallelujah.

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Blogger Davidco said...

The essence of civil disobedience is that it calls for a decision on the part of observers. Although it occurs in a military context, Watada's act is the same.

We should not be surprised that a military judge will not rule that the Iraq Occupation is aggressive war and the occasion of multiple consequent war crimes as per the UN Charter, Nuremberg and US law.

Encounter with Watada has made millions of other people perfect a choice for or against complicity. He has already performed his function. Those who read about him and do nothing have made a moral choice in spite of themselves.

Four years in prison is a small price to pay for the opportunity to serve one's country so heroically.

5:49 AM  

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