Monday, February 05, 2007

I'd like to say that I'm proud of Ehren Watada. I think what he's doing is a good thing. I hope he gets a lot of press so everyone can hear what democracy sounds like; it's a sound that many of us haven't heard in a long time. You can listen to an interesting piece on him at


Jason said...

I always thought democracy sounded kind of like this.

Pronunciation: di-'mä-kr&-sE

Anonymous said...

I ahven't looked at it yet...I'm in Constitutional law; I'd like to beat Jason one day...How are you so witty on such short notice? ;)


Anonymous said...

Oay, I know this guy. The problem is that none of the generals are doing it and it's really more their duty--to uphold the laws and Constitution of the US. It makes me super mad. It's a direlection of duty all around--and everybody knows--but it much worse for the upper level officers.

Jason, Devil's Advocate said...

Ok. Devil's advocate questions:

Would you be as proud of a pharmacist, physician, or nurse who refused care of a patient, say a rape victim who would like the "morning after pill", because they felt the requested treatment was against their morals? Are these situations different? If so, how?

Also is a democracy where one can neglect duty and civic responsibility? Certainly one can state one's opinion by voting this way or that (in most cases we rely on our representatives). If someone does not support the war, can they then refuse to pay taxes since the funds would be used to help support such? Is this a democracy or an anaracho-syndicate commune?

On another note...
I can't believe someone would be so bold to threaten physical violence against me on your blog. I need to obtain a restraining order.

buffy said...

The morning after pill is a touchy subject for a lot of people. I think the choice of ending a pregnancy should be left up to the individual who is pregnant, so I personally think that a woman who has been raped should be able to obtain the pill. I can see how these situations are similar, in that in both situations someone is being asked to do something that they're against that will probably result in the taking of human life. I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of differences as well, but for right now I'm just going to say "You know Jason, I can't really put my finger on it."

I personally am against the war in Iraq, and feel that additional troops shouldn't be sent over and the remaining troops should be brought home. That's why I'm proud of Watada- I'm happy to see someone who feels the same way that I do having the courage to do something about it, regardless of how it will affect his career or personal life. This war has been marked by fanaticism, in that from the beginning people who have disagreed with it have been labeled "traitor" and "anti-American" and other such names that, in my opinion, aren't accurate at all. I think that the values this country was supposedly built on give us the right to look skeptically at our government's actions and policies.

It's possible that this guy will get into a lot of trouble for what he's doing, and that he might have to face up to some nasty consequences. As far as taxes are concerned, I'm sure that we COULD refuse to pay taxes in order to refuse to support the war. The question is how many of us are prepared for the consequences if we do so?

Watada said (I'm paraphrasing) that a standing army that is not allowed to question their orders is not democratic at all, and that the American people have been deceived in the war and the motives behind it. In this way, I think it's representative of democracy; he's utilizing his right to disagree, to question his orders. I realize that this could open a pandora's box of problems for the United States and the Armed Forces, but I can't help but be inspired and envious of his courage.

Anonymous said...

Very little time, but military personnel don't have the same status as an average citizen; yet they DO have a duty to uphold the Constitution and US laws, which are clearly being broken. Buff, can't wait to read your response. The pharmacist doesn't have a duty to refuse to fill prescriptions based on perosnal beliefs.

Anonymous said...

word, Buffy.

Ramey said...

This is such a serious and complicated subject, and it may highlight the ultimate reason why people have a conscience. We will all most likely come to a place in life where we are compelled to act in accordance with our conscience or against it. I applaud those who will not betray their own convictions.

Jason, devil's advocate said...

This is great!

Ok, well here are a couple of points I think are important.

Regarding Anonymous short on time... I think a couple of states already have laws that protect pharmacists who do not wish to fulfill certain prescriptions, based on moral-whatever. So if this is true the pharmacist could just pass her along and hopefully there is someone else who could fill the script.

Regarding the differences in the situations... I think these two are slightly different situations, with simlar cores. Watada is choosing not to participate in the war on the grounds that he was deceived and that this was in actuality an aggressive war, not a defensive one; not sanctioned by the U.N. charter and therefore illegal in our country. The pharmacist isn't really breaking a law, in fact in some places there are laws to support such actions. The key similarity, to me, is that both have taken a stand for things they believe to be right, both with potential negative consequences for others. If no other medical professional is available the woman may go without treatment and have no viable alternative, but to carry out the pregnancy or have an abortion at a later date. Watada, being a lower level officer still commands a number of troops under him. What does this do to his troops? One, they no longer have an officer they are familiar with. Two, how would his troops feel about going to Iraq again while he awaits a court martial? Three, yes what effect would such behavior have on the military if it became widespread?

The question is : are you ready to sacrifice the rights of others so that your moral obligations can be satisfied? I think this is an evil we have to live with everyday.

buffy said...

Jason- re: The question is : are you ready to sacrifice the rights of others so that your moral obligations can be satisfied?

Another question that could be asked is are you ready to infringe on the rights of thousands of others in order to carry out your orders? If Watada obeyed his orders, went to Iraq and did whatever he was told, he would be going against his own moral obligations, against his own instincts, against his own judgements. He would also be leading the troops in his command to do something that he found to be morally wrong. Is there no wrong in that? Also, if they are having to do what we know many troops to be doing there, killing thousands of Iraqis, is that not violating their rights? Which is more important: the right of his troops to have a familiar commanding officer, or the right of folks in Iraq to live?

Jason, devil's advocate said...

Unfortunately, I don't think Lt. Watada will have any subsrantial effect other than that on his troops and perhaps on how the military disciplines itself. To be frank he likely has been replaced and someone else is doing his assigned job. We still have the same problem in Iraq. And the people who live in Iraq still don't have much of an opportunity to live (sectarian violence isn't what I'd call easy living). We're in a lovely Catch 22 right now.

I would have preferred for someone like this to be an officer in Iraq. Who else would be better to question dangerous or illogical orders? I still think that his decision was a selfish one.

Since I mentioned preferences...I would have preferred that Colin Powell had not testified to the UN that Saddam had mobile WMD labs (what a ludicrous idea that seems now). I am kind of glad that W landed on the big aircraft carrier with the sign that read Mission Accomplished; I will play it over and over in my mind. I would prefer if the generals and all in the administration would be more forthcoming about the failures in Iraq and work to make changes rather than make more rhetoric. I would prefer if Dick Cheney had been shot by his hunting buddy rather than visa versa.

buffy said...

From what I understand, Watada has served in Iraq already, and this was to be his second go-round. After having been there once, he might very well be scared as hell to go back. In that way, his motives ARE selfish. But I don't think that's the whole nine yards. I still think that, at least partly, he's trying to act with his conscience and not against it.

Jason, devil's advocate said...

I do think Watada is acting on his conscience, but I don't think that his actions are those that would be the most productive in reaching what I would assume would be his goal: Helping bring an end to the morass of this war. His actions are not selfish in that he is a coward or is protecting himself by not returning to Iraq. I do not claim that Watada is acting cowardly or is a coward. His action is selfish because he is making a judgement based upon his morals and not based upon his expected duty and this action has adverse consequences on others who may or may not have an alternative. Again I wish he would have served again so that he could have questioned orders in the field; a manner that I would think would satisfy his duty, his moral obligations, and respect the rights of others.