I have never met Ist Lt. Ehren Watada in my life, or his father. Yet his actions, to refuse to go to war, make me feel that we are united somehow by a common thread that cannot be torn by either a bulldozer or by distance.
War often is a racket. It is for the benefit of the few who initiate it at the expense of many. As for President Bush's war in Iraq it is the worst example of how our nation was deceived by this man and his entourage who did not mind using all evil means at their disposal to get us into war. They epitomise evil. They are the worst of God's creature on earth. They lied to our nation and rest of the world. They deceived the Congress saying that Saddam possessed Weapons of mass destructions (WMDs), while he did not. They said he would use WMDs against our troops and Israel. He did not. Our leaders in the Washington, and their 'Amen Corner' in the Capitol Hill wanted to believe everything that pro-Israeli neocons had fed them. They conspired to changing the geography of the Middle East, for the vested interest of Israel. So, Colin Powell went to the UN and lied there unashamedly and so did many world leaders and diplomats (not just here in the USA, but also in the UK).
Now look what this ugly war has delivered. It has killed some 250,000 innocent civilians in Iraq and maimed and orphaned at least a million. In the name of disarming Saddam, our troops literally disarmed hundreds of thousand of children, who will only know that it was America that killed their parents, siblings, and led to their handicap. What do such crimes against innocents produce other than revenge seekers who may one day come to haunt us in an imbalanced war, what we so conveniently, without any reflection and guilt, dump as 'terrorism'?
We have literally set the clock of Iraq back to the dark ages, (and not middle ages) since Baghdad under its Islamic Caliphate was the metropolis of the world for a number of centuries, 7th-16th CE, while our western world was deep into savagery then. In this war, just as in the first Gulf War, our troops, under directives of Pentagon, deployed depleted Uranium, a banned chemical that leads to cancer and other ailments. There are thousands of deformed children born every month in the various hospitals of Iraq as a result of such usage. What a monumental crime against the people of the oldest civilisation on earth, perpetrated by the so-called vanguards of the youngest civilisation? Our troops let the looting of Baghdad Museum happen, even some bringing those looted artifacts -- treasures of humanity -- here to sell to underworld treasure hunters. Our troops destroyed everything in Iraq that was necessary for its people to survive and feel good. Our troops produced beastly prison scandals of Abu Ghraib, horrific massacres of Haditha and many such horrendous crimes that pale My Lai by comparison. Now Iraq is on the brink of a civil war, thanks to our and British troops, who are accused of even planting IEDs to start the sectarian war. If you ask any Iraqi today: are they better off today, the most oft-repeated answer is - NO. After all, it is easy to live in a country where there is no democracy but at least security, for security triumphs over all needs in a civil society. No buts, no questions there.
So, when Ehren refused to participate in that war, what he did is noble and humane, just and proper. By refusing to participate in Bush's evil war, he demonstrated that humanity is more important than mere uniform or the codes that it provides. If ours was a losing country like Germany in post-World War II, Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and many, including Powell and Condi Rice, today would be hanged for their crimes against humanity, for deceiving humanity, for preparing the groundwork for war, killing and destruction, let alone invading an independent member state of the UN. And we shall all have been celebrating officers like Watada for their courage not to go to an immoral war. Unfortunately, that day has not come. Our war criminals are in the winning side, and since history is written by winners, they have saved their skin, and now, instead, want to put Ehren behind the bar for his refusal to participate in that war. This is really amazing! What are we coming to: when the innocents are punished, bombed and killed, and the evil criminals rule our world!
As a Muslim, I am by nature, anti-war and for peace and social justice (for the root word of Islam comes from the Arabic word Salam which means peace; and peace cannot be sustained without justice). Unfortunately, I see how the most powerful warlords of our time want to play God by victimising my people and all those who hate war and are willing to stand for truth and justice. So, when I see someone like Ehren of another faith who takes the risk of not going to a racket war for it's inherently immoral and evil to participate in killings and destructions for the benefit of the few (Bushies, Bechtel, Cargill, Halliburton, etc.), I cannot but salute them for their courage.
It would be great disservice to millions of those who raised their voices against the war to punish Ehren. He symbolises the conscience of majority of our humanity. A guilty verdict would be immoral and unnecessary. No justice would be served by sacrificing one more innocent human being at the altar of War Party. If and when our world has too many guys like Ehren that day would be a day that we can all celebrate and use our weapons to plough our land for greater good of all humanity, of all races, colours and religions.
So, again, my fervent request to the hearing committee deciding the fate of Ehren is: don't sacrifice him, don't incriminate him for his noble intention not to participate in an immoral war that shamed our nation with scenes of Abu Ghraib, Haditha and not-to-be-found WMDs. When war is evil, it is better not to participate, and not the other way around. By his refusal to participate in war, Ehren has proved that he is a just and honourable human being that we can all be proud of. May he find peace and tranquillity in this life and hereafter.
The writer is Peace and anti-war activist based in Philadelphia, USA. http://habibsiddiqui.unibd.org