Soldier takes path of civil disobedience
First Lt. Ehren K. Watada said he will refuse orders to fight in Iraq.
CIVIL disobedience is a brave and honored tradition in America, and 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada has chosen that road in refusing to fight in Iraq
. He faces almost certain court-martial, conviction and up to five years in jail, and says he is "prepared to face the punishment." Those consequences rightfully are an integral outcome of civil disobedience.
The son of Bob Watada, former head of the state Campaign Spending Commission, says he will not join other members of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team when they fly to Iraq later this month. He is not applying for conscientious objector status because he is not against all wars, just this one.
Watada said he joined the Army in March 2003 as an act of "duty, service and patriotism" but has since come to the belief that the Iraq war is immoral and a breach of law. Many Americans who supported the invasion of Iraq have similarly come to oppose it.
Numerous young men served prison time for refusing to be drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. More than 50,000 Americans instead fled to Canada, and President Jimmy Carter disparaged the principle of conscientious objection in 1977 when he issued a broad amnesty for them to return to the United States. Though many might disagree with his actions, Watada is adhering to that high principle.
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