Sunday, March 04, 2007

It can be done

Arthur Silber makes a important point which I have written about before -- we are all complicit but there is something that can be done about it. He tells us about Lt. Watada.
When the order comes down to treat a prisoner with unspeakable cruelty, to "waterboard" him, to electrocute him, to cut him, to hang him on hooks from the ceiling for days on end, or to commit any number of other unforgivable crimes, there is always the man or woman who will say -- without bravado, without show, without explicitly staking any particular moral claim, but as a simple, unadorned statement of fact:
No. I will not do this. You can torture me, or say you will kill me. I cannot and will not do this to another human being. I will not do this.

It is the person who says, "No," whom we must seek to understand. It is not melodramatic or engaging in overstatement to say that he or she is our salvation.Ehren Watada is one of those rare heroes who has said, "No" -- and he is prepared to go to jail for four years for his refusal.


In direct resistance to the depravity of the Bush administration as it escalates this war, Lieutenant Watada is taking a clear and uplifting position. Citing international law and the U.S. Constitution, he points out that the Iraq war is "manifestly illegal." And he adds: "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order. It is my duty not to follow unlawful orders and not to participate in things I find morally reprehensible."

Watada says: "My participation would make me party to war crimes."


As Lt. Watada recognizes, you cannot stop evil by compromising or making accommodations with it. If you genuinely understand the issues and if you care, you must say, "No." You must refuse all further participation. If not enough of us will do this, the horrors will continue for years to come, and probably for decades.
The Democrats now control Congress. As Russ Feingold explains here, they could stop the ongoing criminal catastrophe in Iraq within months. Feingold writes:
As the hearing I chaired in the Senate Judiciary Committee made clear, this legislation is fully consistent with the Constitution of the United States. Since the president is adamant about pursuing his failed policies in Iraq, Congress has the duty to stand up and use its constitutional power to stop him. If Congress doesn’t stop this war, it’s not because it doesn’t have the power. It’s because it doesn’t have the will.
Congress almost certainly won't have the will, and for the worst of reasons: most of them are pathetic cowards. They're terrified they will be accused of failing "to support the troops." They are so inept and unintelligent that they have no confidence they can refute the charge, which is easy enough to do (Feingold explains how). These are the people who govern us, and who make decisions that involve the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. If they fail to take action to stop an attack on Iran, they will possibly be responsible for the deaths of millions.


They should pay much closer attention to Feingold, and try to understand his argument with their few remaining brain cells.

They can stop it. They won't. These are the greatest stakes in the world, and the lives of countless innocent people lie in the balance. In such a situation, you are either with the resistance -- or you are with the murderers.

Those in Congress who will not even try to stop these horrors are with the murderers. In terms of the principles and the moral responsibility involved, they are the murderers. This is your government.

I think only continuing, massive public protest and civil disobedience will stop this nightmare, and the greater nightmare that may soon be upon us. Our government will do nothing to end them.

Now, it's up to the rest of us.


Blogger liberal journal man said...

Watada is correctly citing the law. I just wish he wasn't so isolated in his dissent.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

It's scary stuff, going against authority in the military. The whole culture ingrains unquestioning obedience. Most of us discover that we are ultimately cowards. That's what makes these few so exceptionally. I hope that they inspire others.

11:20 PM  

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