Why do did I post this article, without putting my thoughts on it? Well, I really had to think about it first, to put some thoughts together. Now that I have them, I suppose I should day something.
First off, Lt Watada should be shipped directly into Iraq. If you join the military, you have a pretty good idea why you joined, and what it was going to be all about. It’s no secret that the Army’s main purpose is to defend the country and fight wars. I mean, any kid playing soldier, any student studying WWII, anybody with a TV will have that basic knowledge. The idea that freedom isn’t free is something we understand as a child. Lt Watada is probably a good guy, and a good officer, but that oath that you take as an officer, as a soldier, directs you to follow orders given to you by your superiors, not follow orders as you see fit. By refusing to go to Iraq, Lt Watada has let down his entire platoon and all of his men that would serve with him. He has proven that he will allow his beliefs, political or otherwise, cloud his judgment and make him ineffective when his men need him the most. To say I won’t go, after all of his men are going, is like a baseball player taking his 12 million a year, and refusing to play. The problem is that this is not a game, and I feel sorry for the men that Mr. Watada decided he is too good to serve with. I know this may sound callous, but that’s too bad. Lt Watada is a coward, not for saying what he believes, but for abandoning the people who need him the most.
What I find equally distasteful, is that Mr. Watada chose to use the press as his platform to get his beliefs out. Maybe, by getting his side of the story into the papers and on TV, he can arouse sympathy from people like Mrs. Sheehan or others, to fight for his cause and make such a noise that the Army will have no choice but to discharge him, or face the wrath of hundreds of anti-war supporters. So, he lets the press get the story first, makes them comfortable, shows how effective he is, and generally makes him look good. The picture in the paper, which I did not include, show Mr. Watada sitting in his living room, in regular clothes, seemingly in despair over his choice. What they should show and comment on are pictures and comments from the men at the front. The ones Mr. Watada chose to abandon. The soldiers in full gear, living and fighting. Maybe they should interview one of two of Mr. Watada’s platoon members, and see what they think. Maybe then, Mr. Watada would understand that having the courage to do the right thing sometimes has a cost, and that cost is not borne by Mr. Watada alone.
I hope that Mr. Watada’s men come safely. I wouldn’t be able to handle the guilt if one of my men got killed doing something that I was supposed to do, because I was too afraid to do it myself. But then, Maybe Mr. Watada doesn’t care at all. So ship him to the front line, let him object all he wants, but he can do it behind a rifle. Then, Mr. Watada can get out of the Army, and write a book about how he was treated, sell it to a movie studio, and laugh about it all the way to the bank. But until then, move out soldier…