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Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Refusal to deploy

A crime to participate in war of aggression

It is hard to imagine an issue more central to the future of our country than this: Will we uphold the rule of law, or simply say we do and then act however we wish?

Lt. Ehren Watada refused deployment to Iraq for one reason: He claimed the war was illegal [“Feds drop appeal of Watada decision,” page one, May 7].

U.S. Army Field Manual (27-10, Section 498) says, any person “who commits an act which constitutes a crime … [is] liable to punishment … [including] a crime against the peace.” A crime against the peace is the crime of engaging in a war of aggression.

To follow the rule of law and the Army Field Manual, the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada had to confront the question: Was the U.S. war in Iraq a war of aggression — not of self-defense? This is the question the military judge refused to allow, disregarding his own military laws.

As one law professor put it: “[Lt. Watada] is being ordered to do something that he has every reason to believe … is implicating him in the gravest crime against peace imaginable. And if he has no chance to even raise that issue before this military tribunal, then it’s such a blatant denial of justice as to itself constitute a kind of crime because he’s being criminally disallowed from obeying the law. Franz Kafka didn’t have such a macabre imagination.”

Perhaps George Orwell had a better imagination. I hope we’ll choose not to live in that world.

— Bert Sacks, Seattle

Comments | More in Iraq war

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