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Taco John
06-16-2006, 05:12 AM
Do you support 'the right' of US Soldiers to abstain from wars they feel are illegal for reasons of conscious?

Yes or no.

* Results of the poll are public.




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Troops refusing Iraq duty get a haven

By MIKE BARBER
P-I REPORTER

Prompted by a Fort Lewis Army officer's decision to refuse to fight in Iraq, the First United Methodist Church of Tacoma has declared itself a sanctuary for servicemen and servicewomen who also don't want to go to Iraq.

The 300-member congregation's administrative council voted last weekend to open its doors beginning this Saturday after 1st Lt. Ehren Watada announced that he thinks the war in Iraq is illegal and that he has sought to resign his commission.

A statement from the church on Wednesday said that service members "who are unable to deploy to combat areas for reasons of conscience" can find protection behind its doors.

"Our initiative was because of Lieutenant Watada's gesture and a clear sense that we have, as a reconciling congregation, deeply involved in justice issues throughout the city, that any war, particularly this one, is inconsistent with Christian teachings," the Rev. Monty Smith said Wednesday night.

Smith said the church stands "in solidarity" with others who hold similar social-justice convictions. The church essentially is providing a protective space and resources to those contemplating whether to resist deployment to Iraq, he said.

Smith said the church so far has received no applications for sanctuary from members of the armed forces. It has protocols and precautions to ensure that anyone who seeks sanctuary is doing so for legal and religious reasons.

The decision marks the latest action by peace activists and war resisters in recent weeks in the Tacoma-Olympia corridor near Fort Lewis.

While troop supporters continue their vigils at a bridge near the post's main gate, Tacoma and Olympia seem to have become a new epicenter for an invigorated anti-war movement usually seen in Seattle.

Two weeks ago, demonstrations in Olympia against the movement of military vehicles from Fort Lewis to Iraq via the Port of Olympia resulted in civil disobedience and arrests.

Last week, Watada, a company-grade military officer with the Stryker Brigade about to deploy to Iraq this month, said off-post and after working hours that he does not conscientiously object to war. He would serve in Afghanistan but not in Iraq, which he considers an illegal war.

Watada, who has tried twice before to resign from the Army, continues to work and train as an artillery-targeting officer but is under investigation, his lawyer and military officials said.

Smith said he's a bit surprised that activism is taking root in the area.

"Before, the huge demonstrations and marches were in Seattle," he said.

Spokesmen for the Church Council of Greater Seattle could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The Seattle council has expressed support for Watada, and urged support for an Interfaith Network of Concern petition to the Seattle City Council for a resolution urging an exit strategy from Iraq.

On its Web site, the Seattle church group said:

"The Church Council appreciates the difficulty for Lt. Watada in making such an important decision, given his military service, and the potential consequences that he likely will face, including a court-martial. Our support and prayers go to Lt. Watada at this time. We continue to pray and call for an expedited end to the war in Iraq and for the preservation of all lives in the areas of conflict."

Smith, joined by other local clergy members, has scheduled a news conference for noon Friday to explain the church's position and to answer questions.

The church, at 423 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood, has a long history of supporting social justice since opening its doors in 1876.

banyon
06-16-2006, 10:15 AM
CO status is based on morality, not legality.

We shouldn't expect soldiers to delve into international law. If the illegality is the basis of their moral objection then fine, but the moral objection is what's relevant.

patteeu
06-16-2006, 12:43 PM
Agree with Banyon. Voted no.

go bowe
06-16-2006, 12:49 PM
hey, a guy can refuse to go to any war he doesn't feel is justified...

if he doesn't mind spending a few years up at the usdb in leavenworth...

Radar Chief
06-16-2006, 01:15 PM
hey, a guy can refuse to go to any war he doesn't feel is justified...

if he doesn't mind spending a few years up at the usdb in leavenworth...

There ya go, itís as simple as that. :thumb:

Hydrae
06-16-2006, 01:19 PM
I voted no simply due to the fact that they swore an oath which they are no longer upholding. If this is a possible issue for you, don't join up in the first place.

Taco John
06-16-2006, 01:56 PM
I wasn't able to fill in the whole question... But I wanted to add "for reasons of conscious." (i.e. morality).

Personally, I think that there should be some sort of an opt-out mechanism for soldiers who joined with the noble ideas of protecting the nation, and end up being used immorally.

BucEyedPea
06-16-2006, 04:19 PM
Don't they also swear to uphold the Constitution too? I believe so.
If war is not declared by Congress I'd say yes, but only on those grounds.
(Sorry Patteeu :( )
If they're a CO then why are they even in the military to even be able to claim that?

Radar Chief
06-16-2006, 04:22 PM
Don't they also swear to uphold the Constitution too? I believe so.
If war is not declared by Congress I'd say yes, but only on those grounds.
(Sorry Patteeu :( )
If they're a CO then why are they even in the military to even be able to claim that?

I, {insert name here}, do solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. (Note that the last line is not required to be said if the speaker has a personal or moral objection)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Military_Oath_of_Allegiance

BucEyedPea
06-16-2006, 04:23 PM
Thank you! :)

Radar Chief
06-16-2006, 04:25 PM
Thank you! :)

;)

Have a good weekend.

listopencil
06-16-2006, 04:39 PM
Don't commisioned oficers have the choice of resigning their commisions? I don't remember. Just a thought. Anyway, the armed forces of our country is strongest when it is a volunteer force. I don't want someone over there who strongly disagrees with the action. I think an administrative discharge under other than honorable conditions is in order for objectors in this situation. Oh by the way, I voted "Yes".

RedNFeisty
06-16-2006, 04:48 PM
This raises a valid point. If our President/Congress sends our troops into
a war that should not be fought and our troops are against it and the American people are against it, then why should they be forced to go?


What would happen if American people possibly one day raise up against the government because people are tired of the corruption, what should the troops do, listen to the government and open fire on American soil on American people?

Mr. Laz
06-16-2006, 04:52 PM
no ... a soldier can refuse an order they feel is illegal, but the legitimacy of the war itself has to be decided by the government as a whole.

Mr. Laz
06-16-2006, 04:54 PM
What would happen if American people possibly one day raise up against the government because people are tired of the corruption, what should the troops do, listen to the government and open fire on American soil on American people?
a revolutionary war would pretty much make the decision about going to war pretty much moot.


every person in the U.S. would have to decide where they stood on that issue.

memyselfI
06-16-2006, 04:57 PM
Of course a soldier should be able to refuse a deployment. Does the military really WANT someone there who does not believe in the mission protecting fellow soldiers? Who wants to share a foxhole with this person?

Mr. Laz
06-16-2006, 05:05 PM
Of course a soldier should be able to refuse a deployment. Does the military really WANT someone there who does not believe in the mission protecting fellow soldiers? Who wants to share a foxhole with this person?
i don't know ... if each soldier can start deciding whether they "feel" like going to war is a very sticky issue.


following orders is a pretty important part of military success.



i suppose if the soldier felt strongly enough about it they could request discharge from the military completely to avoid going.


but they also need to immediately forfeit all monetary gains by joining the military. If they used the military to fund college ... well they need to pay a pretty strict penalty to get out.


you can't have people joining the army and then wanting to drop out as soon as any kind of war started.



when you join the military service ... military action is a part that comes with the commitment.

memyselfI
06-16-2006, 05:12 PM
i suppose if the soldier felt strongly enough about it they could request discharge from the military completely to avoid going.


but they also need to immediately forfeit all monetary gains by joining the military. If they used the military to fund college ... well they need to pay a pretty strict penalty to get out.


you can't have people joining the army and then wanting to drop out as soon as any kind of war started.



when you join the military service ... military action is a part that comes with the commitment.

Absolutely, changing your mind should not be cheap. Repay loans with interest plus a stiff penalty for not fulfilling your contractual obligations. That seems to make more sense than sending a soldier to jail and the society have to pay for their care while they are in the hole.

As far as joining the army and not believing there would be military action, I've heard of stories where recruiters practically told the signees anything to get them to sign up. Including a 'guarantee' that they would not see combat but rather desk jobs, etc. Of course the people who sign on the dotted line because they believe them are eeediots but they've still been lied to.

Mr. Laz
06-16-2006, 05:56 PM
As far as joining the army and not believing there would be military action, I've heard of stories where recruiters practically told the signees anythign to get them to sign up. Including a 'guarantee' that they would not see combat but rather desk jobs, etc. Of course the people who sign on the dotted line because they believe them are eeediots but they've still been lied too.
then the recruiters need to be disciplined.


but in reality, you have to be pretty dim to not realize the whole reason of having a military is for a possible military action.

listopencil
06-16-2006, 06:07 PM
then the recruiters need to be disciplined.


but in reality, you have to be pretty dim to not realize the whole reason of having a military is for a possible military action.


In Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers the "recruiter" was a guy missing a lot of limbs and other parts who was ready to tell you how dangerous the action was. In reality, recruiters that I have come in contact with are snake oil salesmen trying to make their numbers to keep their current cushy jobs. I'm not going to complain. Anybody who signs up thinking that there is no chance that they will see action is an idiot, but I think a discharge with loss of benefits is a just penalty for objectors. Let them quit and disallow any benefits as you stated earlier.

penchief
06-16-2006, 06:08 PM
Anyone who signs on the dotted line should know what he or she is getting into. Yes, they should have to serve in some way, shape, or form. If not they should repay their obligation in some other way. If that is prison then so be it if their conviction is strong enough.

However, while I believe they are obligated to serve I also believe they should be allowed to speak their minds (like all citizens) if their convictions are at odds with their commitment. Everybody, IMO, has the right to exercise their constitutional rights even if they are actively serving the military.

Adept Havelock
06-16-2006, 06:14 PM
They already can. They do have another option. It's called a military prison. :shrug:

Adept Havelock
06-16-2006, 06:16 PM
Everybody, IMO, has the right to exercise their constitutional rights even if they are actively serving the military.

I'm not so sure about that, penchief. Just off the top of my head, I should think unfettered freedom of speech, for example, could have a really bad effect on the chain of command.

listopencil
06-16-2006, 06:27 PM
I'm not so sure about that, penchief. Just off the top of my head, I should think unfettered freedom of speech, for example, could have a really bad effect on the chain of command.



Members of the military have to follow the UCMJ. They are defending The Constitution as opposed to being defended by it.

Adept Havelock
06-16-2006, 06:29 PM
They are defending The Constitution as opposed to being defended by it.
An excellent observation.

BucEyedPea
06-16-2006, 07:25 PM
I believe they have Constitutional protection depending what the situation is. I was on another board discussing the two points posted above and the Military Code of Justice. I contacted an attorney I am aquainted with who is also a libertarian commentator, a lawyer and former military. Vietnam had an amnesty so this was never tested.

Anyway here's what he wrote back and my last comment:

The best way, it would seem to me, would be a soldier refusing to deploy to Iraq and then getting court-martialed, where he would bring up his constitutional arguments. He would then appeal to the U.S. Court of Military Appeals and then appeal that decision directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
_
Best regards,
_
Jacob

They have to go through the military court system, with the Supreme Court being the highest court to which an appeal can be taken after all steps in the military system have been taken. It doesn't start over again in federal district court.
_
It's comparable to the state system--a case can go through the state system and all the way to the state supreme court. If there is a constitutional issue, the case can be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court--it doesn't start over again in federal district court.
_
Jacob

The only other point I found was that the SC has refused to hear conscription cases. This is not conscription. It's desertion. Some of these cases where soldiers have been jailed are not using Constitutional arguments but a conscientious objector argument. (Meja was the first out of the Iraq matter who was CM and jailed) Doesn't wash.

Would ultimately really rest on what the SC would decide to hear it seems. The arguments have to contain constitutional issues though to have that happen.
I believe it would open up a Pandora's box for our gov't if they did. Politics could overrule there. But we'll never know until it happens. It's never been done on such grounds but seems to me that the avenues are there.

penchief
06-16-2006, 07:39 PM
Members of the military have to follow the UCMJ. They are defending The Constitution as opposed to being defended by it.

That's why they are obligated to serve wherever the military decides that they should. However, if they are going to serve to defend the constitution they should not be deprived of the articles within. They should be enitled to their public opinion as long as they dutifully fulfill their obligation.

I think that defending the constitution is their job. As it is the president's job, and his cabinet's job, the congress's job, and the judicial branch's job but that doesn't stop them from using their position to speak their moral and political minds. I don't think members of the military should be prohibited from expressing their opinions about the state of the union anymore than the average citizen or the partisan politician.

On the other hand, I do fear the politicization of the military as a means for partisan purposes. Is it too late to prevent that or has it already happened?